Horror stories about Muslim misogyny have long been used by western patriarchs to justify imperialism abroad and sexism at home. The Guardian’s Katharine Viner reminds us about Lord Cromer, the British consul general in Egypt from 1883. Cromer believed the Egyptians were morally and culturally inferior in their treatment of women and that they should be “persuaded or forced” to become “civilised” by disposing of the veil.
"And what did this forward-thinking, feminist-sounding veil-burner do when he got home to Britain?" asks Viner. "He founded and presided over the Men’s League for Opposing Women’s Suffrage, which tried, by any means possible, to stop women getting the vote. Colonial patriarchs like Cromer … wanted merely to replace eastern misogyny with western misogyny." More than a century later, the same logic is used to imply that misogyny only matters when it isn’t being done by white men.
"White feminism" does not mean every white woman, everywhere, who happens to identify as feminist. It also doesn’t mean that every "white feminist" identifies as white. I see "white feminism" as a specific set of single-issue, non-intersectional, superficial feminist practices. It is the feminism we understand as mainstream; the feminism obsessed with body hair, and high heels and makeup, and changing your married name. It is the feminism you probably first learned. "White feminism" is the feminism that doesn’t understand western privilege, or cultural context. It is the feminism that doesn’t consider race as a factor in the struggle for equality.
White feminism is a set of beliefs that allows for the exclusion of issues that specifically affect women of colour. It is “one size-fits all” feminism, where middle class white women are the mould that others must fit. It is a method of practicing feminism, not an indictment of every individual white feminist, everywhere, always.
If you think you’re gonna gain street wisdom from an app, you probably deserve to have your smartphone stolen.
This is like, the fifteenth app that does this? The headline should read, “White People Can’t Stop Inventing Apps For Avoiding Black Neighborhoods”.
I once attended a symposium on journalistic ethics where the keynote speaker, a well-known journalist, talked about journalists’ special role in society as guardians of democracy. Because of this, he said, journalists are sometimes allowed to do certain things that other citizens are not, such as intrude into people’s private lives. This is much like doctors who are allowed to cut into people or soldiers who are allowed to kill, he explained.
Then he offered another analogy: it’s like police who “have the right to beat people.” I sat in the audience, momentarily stunned. I nudged a friend next to me. Had he actually said that police have a right to beat people? Yes, she said, I had heard it right.
I looked around at an almost completely white and generally middle-class audience in the auditorium of the private college where the symposium was being held. No one seemed too upset by what he had said.
The speaker went on to say a lot of other reactionary things. Later, during the question period, I went to the microphone, intending to focus on another stupid point he had made.
"But before I get to my question," I said, "I want to say that it seems to me that anyone who can say that police have a right to beat people is presumptively excluded from discussion about ethics of any kind."
The audience squirmed, unsure of how to react. The speaker winced but never responded to my challenge.
Later, during the reception, I talked to a colleague who was unclear what point I was trying to make. Surely, the speaker just misspoke, he said; what the speaker meant to say was that in certain situations, police have a legal right to use force, sometimes even deadly force.
Yes, I understood that, I replied. But my point was that he used the phrase, "the right to beat people.” The language reflects his relationship to power. No one who comes from a class of people subject to being beaten by police would ever think of using such a phrase. Only people who don’t have to worry about being beaten would make the “mistake.” Beyond that, I argued, it’s not implausible that the speaker and lots of other folks like him are glad they live in a world in which police sometimes beat people; it keeps the “dangerous classes” in line.
"Try to imagine if he were black, even a black person with a professional career and a middle-class life," I said. "Think of how different interactions with police are for black people. Do you think he would have said that?"
My colleague shrugged and said I was overreacting to an admittedly careless, but harmless, choice of words on the speaker’s part. The colleague turned, never really understanding what I thought was a simple point, and headed off to talk to someone less contentious.
I was left standing there, full of anger, wanting to scream, and feeling incredibly alone.
I looked around and realized that all around me were people just like me - white, middle-class, educated academics or professional journalists. And I hated them. I don’t just mean that I was frustrated with them. At that moment, I hated them. Not just the speaker, but all of the nice middle-class white folks in the room who were too polite to say anything, to hold the speaker accountable. I even hated the three or four white people who had come up to me after the talk and thanked me for speaking up. I bit my tongue and didn’t ask them the obvious question: Why didn’t you speak up too, instead of leaving my comments to hang in the air, to wither and die without support?
Imagine if the vast majority of Germans refused to apologize for the Holocaust and instead denied that it happened or argued that it wasn’t so bad, taught white-washed, revisionist history to their children, and continued to engage in a sanitized, less overt form of concentration and ethnic cleansing.
That’s basically what white Americans have been doing to African Americans.
Book sale find 1. Filed in “men’s, women’s, and senior issues” (wtf?). Should have been under “comedy.”
I looked this up on Amazon. Here’s part of the blurb:
He focuses on the experiences of white males who have been victims of reverse discrimination under such programs and explores the lackluster response from government, the media, and employing institutions. Lynch examines the political taboo that for two decades effectively stifled discussion of the issues that affirmative action raises in both public discourse and scholarly analysis….In case studies based on interviews and other data, Lynch assesses the reactions of white males to affirmative action social barriers, as well as their impact on co-workers, friends, and relatives. He describes the role of the mass media, the social sciences, and ideological elites in creating a conspiracy of silence concerning the hidden and unintended consequences of affirmative action policies. The only study that deals specifically with the impact of affirmative action on white males…
What a load of nonsense. The top review is actually entitled “affirmative genocide”!
The author has also written a book attacking diversity training and one defending entitlements for “mostly white” senior citizens. Here’s his twitter page. First tweet is a link to a Nation Review article about how Black Americans are the “true casualties of amnesty”.
Not only did a Latino actor not play Tony, who clearly in real life looks like a Chicano, but his ethnicity is stolen from the Latino community at a time when Latinos have been demonized. Our real Latino national heroes if acknowledged would dramatize our patriotism and contribution to the United States…
In “Argo” we have yet another instance where the public has been denied of an opportunity for all Americans to learn of an American Latino’s valor, talent and patriotism. This occurs because there has been no consequence to this behavior. It is time for a change.
Moctesuma Esparza on Ben Affleck’s Argo and the White-Washing of the Mexican-American. Esparza says:
The film actually goes out of its way to obscure Tony Mendez’ ethnicity. His name (Mendez) is mentioned only once and the character says he is from New York (Tony was born in Nevada from a mining family with six generations in Nevada and raised in Colorado). Nowhere in the movie does the viewer get that the hero is Mexican American.
Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Antonio “Tony” Mendez was very contained and had very little range, I don’t know what Tony personality is like to judge the portrayal but this did not impact the movie’s success or failure. It was an excellent role that would have elevated a Latino actor like Benjamin Bratt or Michael Peña.
Instead, like with the story of Guy Gabaldon, whose extraordinary achievements in the WWII Battle of Saipan, capturing, by himself, 1800 enemy soldiers, more than any other American soldier in the history of our country, was similarly white-washed as Jeffrey Hunter played him in the 1960 film, “Hell to Eternity.” But that was more than half a century ago, Argo is now.
In the closing credits, the photos of the real people portrayed are presented side-b- side with the actors’ photos showing the very close resemblance and care that was taken in the casting process to cast actors who looked like the real people. Yet, for the key role of Tony Mendez, the director/producer Ben Affleck chose a single long shot of Tony with President Carter where his image was not distinct or recognizable, breaking the pattern he had chosen for all the other real people depicted.
White privilege is being able to star in a person of color’s life story. See also: Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart and almost everyone in 21. Nevemind. I should have made a separate post. Sorry, folks.
to a white person diversity basically means ‘i have the option of interacting with Black/Brown folks at the time and place of my choosing.’
like they are a resource to be called upon when they want ‘soul food’ or someone to practice their spanish on. but if the Black/Brown presence is readily visible/audible outside of the gentrifiers choosing, then they are an invasive nuisance.
because this is ‘diversity’ not ‘i want to live in an all Black/Brown community’.
They basically want to be cultural tourists, to visit POCLand, not live there.
For whatever reason, many white Americans seem to think that ‘white’ = WASP (white Anglo Saxon Protestant) and that folks whose forebears came over on the Mayflower are the actual whites, not the Italians, Russian Jews, Irish Catholics, etc. It’s certainly true that non-Anglo European ethnic groups were once considered nonwhite. But the definition of whiteness changed generations ago to encompass pretty much any European ethnicity that embraced white supremacy. So nonwhites from Europe got to become white ethnic Americans and enjoy white privilege. And nonwhites from every other continent remained nonwhite…because what’s the point of being white if there are no nonwhite people around to oppress?
Yet I’ve had many conversations with white Americans who’ve tried to employ that throwback definition of whiteness, to treat ‘white’ as though it only means ‘WASP’. Conveniently, this distancing from whiteness tends to only occur during conversations about racism. I don’t think they realize that whiteness is achieved, but that non-whiteness is thrust upon you. Their European ancestors gladly handed in their nonwhite badges as soon as they were able to do so. This was an opportunity that many others at the time did not have (though some tried) because their ethnicity was visible in their skin color, hair texture, eye shape, etc.
What’s particularly annoying is when white Americans not only deny their whiteness, but attempt to use their immigrant ancestry to appropriate ‘person of color’ as an identity. ‘People of color’ was devised as a positive, empowering alternative to terms like ‘minorities’ and ‘nonwhites’, which can be inaccurate or suggest otherness and inferiority. The term subverts the usual racial dynamic by suggesting that white people lack color instead of us lacking whiteness. ‘People of color’ is a specifically racial term. It does not mean ‘ethnic people’ or ‘non-WASPs’.
It is also a modern term that began gaining prominence by being employed by racial justice advocates in the 1960s and ’70s. It is nonsensical and self-serving to use an archaic definition of non-whiteness in order to claim a label that modern nonwhites popularized.
So the fact that your ethnicity wasn’t considered white generations ago doesn’t mean you can get away with claiming to be nonwhite or a person of color today. You still benefit from white privilege. And claiming POC status so on the basis of your Euro ethnic identity is particularly offensive since your ancestors chose to leave non-whiteness behind by stepping on black people, Mexicans, Chinese, Indians, and other nonwhites on their way up the racial hierarchy.
Some further reading:
the rest of the time it’s just “what *are* you?”
Hell at this point, asking about my ethnicity is the preferred question. It’s better than the above, or “Where are you FROM? Oh, then I mean, where are your parents from???”
Ha. This reminds me of a routine my Chinese American friend goes through (and which most visibly ‘ethnic’ people can probably relate to):
"So where are from?
"I mean, where are you really from?"
"No, where are your parents from?"
"Well my parents moved here from California."
"Where are they really from?"
I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with strangers that started with a brief, intrusive interrogation of my ethnicity, place of birth, native language, etc. I don’t understand why white people feel like they have to know all this information. What happens if I answer ‘wrong’?
I’ve tried highlighting the strangeness and rudeness of these questions by pointedly asking them what their ethnicity is, but this backfires since white people love nothing better than to talk about being Irish-Welsh-German on their dad’s side and French-Dutch-Italian on their mom’s side and 1/16 Cherokee, blah, blah, blah.