I lived for nearly 25 years in Portland, Oregon. There I staffed an organization dedicated to fighting vigilante white supremacists. In order to fight the white right, we built a base that was made up almost entirely of white progressives. I also served as the Executive Director of the McKenzie River Gathering Foundation, a financial resource for progressive causes in Oregon. The foundation is supported almost entirely by wealthy white progressives. During my years in Portland, I also worked to end the prison build-up through a group made up of incarcerated people and their loved ones. The prison population … Read more “The Bernie Sanders Kerfuffle, #blacklivesmatter, and White Progressive Colorblindness”
Yesterday, Bill O’Reilly took us from the No Spin Zone to the make-your-head-spin zone in his rant, “The Truth About White Privilege.” And what was O’Reilly’s “truth?” That white privilege is a myth, the proof of which lies in the experience of Asian Americans. Here’s the gist, according to O’Reilly:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for black Americans is 11.4 percent. It’s just over five percent for whites, 4.5 percent for Asians. So, do we have Asian privilege in America? Because the truth is, that Asian American households earn far more money than … Read more “The Manipulation Factor: An Asian American Take on O’Reilly, Race, and Asian Americans”
The idea of “privilege”—that some people benefit from unearned, and largely unacknowledged, advantages, even when those advantages aren’t discriminatory —has a pretty long history. In the nineteen-thirties, W. E. B. Du Bois wrote about the “psychological wage” that enabled poor whites to feel superior to poor blacks; during the civil-rights era, activists talked about “white-skin privilege.” But the concept really came into its own in
Twitter was abuzz with banter yesterday concerning Time magazine’s re-post of a Princeton Tory diatribe by student Tal Fortgang, entitled Why I’ll Never Apologize For My White Male Privilege.
I checked it out and quickly understood why. Tal begins,
There is a phrase that floats around college campuses, Princeton being no exception, that threatens to strike down opinions without regard for their merits, but rather solely on the basis of the person that voiced them. “Check your privilege,” the saying goes, and I have been reprimanded by it several times this year. The phrase, handed down by my moral … Read more “Why I’ll Always Apologize for My Privilege”
If you do a google search of “Asian privilege” you’ll see that the subject is generating a lot of chatter, both on the right and the left. But, much of the online discussion concerning Asian privilege ignores a couple of really important things.
First, “race” is a political category, invented to serve the interests of white supremacy. Second, the Oriental “race” (what we were called before we became Asian) was conceived of in this context. When you consider these facts, it becomes clear that Asian privilege may be more complicated than we imagine.
On the first … Read more “The Problem With Asian American Racial Privilege”
I’ve recently started noticing an unnerving trend on my social media accounts: articles and videos about white people being the victims of racism. It reflects an incorrect understanding of anti-racism that places racial bias outside of the historical forces that shape today’s racial constructs. The people who post these links are not particularly political, but their online actions are. They imply that instances of individual racial hostility are somehow equal to the systematic and institutionalized effects of white supremacy. It is a reminder that addressing racism without confronting white privilege is a perilous path.
The first video I saw go … Read more “Social Media and Anti-Racism 101 (For White People)”
I can be notoriously out of the loop. I’ve “discovered” life-changing songs and excitedly shared them with my friends who respond, “Um, isn’t that from like 4 years ago?” That said, have you all heard about Amy Schumer? Apparently she’s been hot sh*t for at least a year now. There’s an ad for her Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer with a pixelated boob hanging out of her dress all over the NYC subway system, so I thought I’d check it out. I watched two episodes shortly after reading Lesli-Ann Lewis’ excellent opinion piece on Dave Chappelle’s shrug-off of White … Read more “Amy Schumer: America’s Answer to Dave Chappelle”
Many excellent perspectives have emerged among the media pandemonium following Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMAs this week. Before I get to the main point of this blog, I just want to say Robin Thicke is gross. In the world I want to live in, an artist 16 years Cyrus’ senior would have wanted to mentor her, not just attend rehearsals where she grinds on him (an apparent fetishizer of black women) and a foam finger in preparation for an international stage. I also find the “Is Miley racist or not?” debate ridiculous. Of course she is. Cyrus is descended … Read more “After Miley, Remembering Hottentot Venus and Ah Fong Moy”
I might’ve become one of those people who buy into the whitewashing hype that race no longer matters in America. Having grown up in the environment in which I did, if I ever commented on racism, people would typically dismiss it with, “Don’t be so touchy.” Racism was a thing of the past. The End. As I wrote in an earlier post, as a young person, I had few tools to understand my own racial oppression as anything more than a hangup that I needed to get over. If I hadn’t met the remarkable racial justice organizers that I … Read more “Racism is Like Cell Phones”
I’ve often pondered the question, why are white people so touchy about being called out for racism?
I know some of you will say that racism is much more than the hurtful prejudice of a marginal few. Agreed. Racism is also inherited structural and political inequity by race resulting in persistent poverty, health disparities, and deficits of opportunity in communities of color. And as with all kinds of oppression, racism is ultimately kept in place by violence and the threat of violence (think in terms of lynchings, cross-burnings, KKK raids, etc. throughout our history). Simple prejudice seems pretty minor by … Read more “Why Are White People So Touchy About Being Called Racist?”