"Well, it turns out that seeing blue when we look up is dependent on already knowing that the sky is blue. To illustrate, the hosts of Radiolab interviewed a linguist named Guy Deutscher who did a little experiment on his daughter, Alma. Deutscher taught her all the colors, including blue, in the typical way: pointing to objects and asking what color they were. In the typical way, Alma mastered her colors quite easily. But Deutscher and his wife avoided ever telling Alma that the sky was blue. Then, one day, he pointed to a clear sky and asked her, “What color is that?” Alma, at first, was puzzled. To Alma, the sky was a void, not an object with properties like color. It was nothing. There simply wasn’t a “that” there at all. She had no answer. The idea that the sky is a thing at all, then, is not immediately obvious."
"Prejudice against women, however, has deep and far-reaching consequences that do a lot more than make them feel bad, for it supports an entire system that privileges men at women’s expense. Sexist prejudice doesn’t just target individual women, for it is fundamentally about women and strikes at femaleness itself in every instance. Each expression of antifemale prejudice always amounts to more than what is said, for it reaffirms a cultural legacy of patriarchal privilege and oppression. When a particular woman is treated as less intelligent, less serious, and less important than the men she works with, for example, this specific view of her is easily linked to the patriarchal idea that women in general are inferior to men. When men ignore her ideas and suggestions or pay more attention to her looks than to her work, they do so with a cultural authority that damages her far more than similar treatment directed at a man.
Since patriarchal culture values maleness, the weight behind antimale prejudice is limited primarily to the individual woman who expresses it and is therefore easier to discount (“She must not like men”). And however hurt men might feel, they can always turn to the compensations of male privilege and a mainstream culture that sends continuing messages of inherent male value. In this sense, the issue isn’t whether prejudice hurts-it hurts everyone it touches. But prejudice against women wounds in deeper and more complex ways than does prejudice against men because the hurt is magnified by a patriarchal system that spreads it by association to all women and that systematically links it to male privilege.
Because prejudice affects women and men so differently, calling antimale prejudice “sexism” distorts the reality of how systems of privilege work. Prejudice against women not only harms individual women, but perpetuates an oppressive system based on gender that harms women more deeply than any isolated instance of hurtful speech or discrimination. Antimale prejudice may hurt individual men, but it isn’t connected to a system that devalues maleness and oppresses men as a result. The difference between the two is so great that we need to distinguish the one from the other, and that’s what words like “sexism” and “racism” are for. Sexism distinguishes simple gender prejudice-which can affect men and women both-from the much deeper and broader consequence of expressing and perpetuating privilege and oppression. Without this distinction, we treat all harm as equivalent without taking into account important differences on both the personal and the social levels in what causes it and what it does to people."
Allan G. Johnson, The Gender Knot (via wretchedoftheearth)
"Curiously, the current debate over race-conscious remedies assumes that the sole beneficiaries of these policies are blacks and other racial minorities. If, however, affirmative action is defined as “race and gender preferences codified into law and enforced through public policy and social customs,” then it is strange and peculiar, arbitrary and incorrect, to suggest that affirmative action began in the summer of 1963 when President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 110925. Given the above definition, routinely cited by opponents of affirmative action, the more accurate beginning date for this legal and public policy is 1641. That is when the fledgling jurisdictions that would later become the first states began to specify in law that rights to property, ownership of goods and services, and the right to vote would be restricted by race and gender. In 1790, Congress formally restricted citizenship via naturalization to “white persons,” a restriction that remained in place until 1952.
…[S]ince the inception of the United States, wealth and institutional support have been invested on the white side of the color line, leading to an accumulation of economic and social advantages among European Americans. On the black side, economic and institutional disinvestment has been the practice, resulting in a process of disaccumulation. When President Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925 in the summer of 1963, he was therefore simply trying to open doors that had been sealed shut for more than three centuries. Now, after only four decades of “racial and gender preferences,” a vigorous and partially successful attack is being waged against affirmative action programs that were instituted to reverse three hundred years of disinvestment in black communities. Yet when power and wealth were being invested and accumulated on their side of the color line, white Americans registered hardly any opposition to the arrangement."
Michael K. Brown et. al, Whitewashing Race (via wretchedoftheearth)
"Historically, white Americans have accumulated advantages in housing, work, education, and security based solely on the color of their skin. Being white, as a consequence, literally has value. Though race may be a cultural and biological fiction, whiteness, like Blackness, is a very real social and legal identity. Both identities are crucial in determining one’s social and economic status. This is why, when Professor Andrew Hacker asked his white students how much money they would demand if they were changed from white to Black, they felt it was reasonable to ask for $50 million if they were to be black for the rest of their lives, or $1 million a year for each year they were Black. That was the financial value they placed on being white. It was, to use W. E. B. DuBois’s phrase, the dollar amount they attached to their “wages of whiteness.” The idea of a possessive investment in whiteness helps to explain the structures of durable racial inequality and the color-coded community processes of accumulation and disaccumulation. The formation of racial identity, in turn, connects interests to attitudes toward public issues that have racial consequences and color-conscious remedies."
Michael K. Brown et. al, Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society (via wretchedoftheearth)
Sometimes I hear people say that racism/sexism/etc in culture isn’t important or worth criticizing. ”Oh it’s just a book,” they say. ”It’s just a crappy TV show.” ”It’s just a commercial.”
This argument always baffles me. It’s like if you put poison into a fish-tank and then say “Oh well I didn’t poison the fish, I just poisoned the water.” The fish lives in the water, dumbass; it’s completely submerged in and surrounded by the water. I’m pretty sure that poisoned water is going to affect the fish.
Similarly, we all live constantly immersed in this miasma of information that we call “culture.” People are not born prejudiced. We don’t emerge from the womb knowing that all black men are scary thugs, that all Latinas are spicy sexpots, that all Indians are violent savages, that all women are weepy and frail, that all gay men are depraved pedophiles, and that all people in wheelchairs are objects of pity. We learn these things, usually starting at a very young age, and we often learn them from our culture — the books we read, the movies we watch, and the constant barrage of advertising that we don’t really pay attention to but which still manages to seep into our brains, and which shapes the way we think about the world, for better or for worse.
If you want to save the fish, you need to purify the water.
I really love this analogy.
However, in the case of -isms, one cannot apply the fish-tank logic, “The solution to polution is dilution” because, to me, that sounds like that colourblind approach.
abraxia asked: Last night, a white woman I was hanging started talking about racist jokes. I told her to stop it, she was being racist. She defensively said “well it’s not whites who are racist, everyone else is really racist I mean look at non-white comedians.” Then, when I challenged this, she said: “Race isn’t real, it’s just a social construct, I learned that in Sociology.” I tried to argue but apparently she also studied White Denial 101 and aced it. I can’t stop thinking on how to handle people like her.
fucking sociology 101
I’m always really entertained when people are like “Race doesn’t exist because it’s a social construct.”
…Which basically means, it’s something CONSTRUCTED BY SOCIETY, SO YES, IT IS ACTUALLY THERE.
That would be like saying “Gender doesn’t exist. Stigma doesn’t exist. Parental duties don’t exist. YOU KNOW WHY? BECAUSE THEY’RE JUST SOCIETAL CONSTRUCTS.’
….Fucking white sociology.
Picking and choosing what to read in my posts about racism and then taking them out of context doesn’t make you look good, FYI.
If you notice, I said slavery was common back then, which is why Africans had no problem selling their prisoners and condemned criminals to Europeans in exchange for money, trade, and guns.
Uh…that entire post was to tell you idiotic folks to stop using THAT as an excuse to continue to ignore the fact that the Middle Passage was largely rooted in racism and making Africans (and their subsequent descendants) feel inferior to Europeans. If you notice, in other slave trades, the place of a slave was not based on their race…at all. Yeah, there was some tension between Gauls and Romans, but for the most part, the slave population of pre-America was very racially diverse. It was a matter of station; even CITIZENS could become slaves/indentured servants to pay off debts or because circumstances have seen them with no other choice.
The African slave trade was different because not only was it not racially diverse, but even when Africans (and some European countries, for the sake of money) decided to put an end to it, racism was used as propaganda to continue it. And why white people want to ignore this so blatantly, want to minimize these events which from a historical standpoint are as recent as can be, just proves that so many of you have been conditioned thoroughly by a society that was built on white supremacy, first against the Native Americans, then Africans (mostly sub-Saharan Africans; North Africans were fetishized by Europeans), then the Chinese, then the Japanese, and pretty much anyone who wasn’t white.
And it continues until this day. I see white people marginalizing Arabs, Indians (often calling them Arabs because white people can’t be bothered to learn the difference), East Asians, and basically anyone who isn’t white. I see it happen every single day, and you may think it’s all fun and games but when those people go home to their families they’re likely all shaking their head at you, laughing at you, and clucking their tongues that “white people never change”. I’ve crossed paths with other people of color who aren’t African, and our opinions coincide: the racism, cultural and identity erasure, cultural appropriation, and fetishization of our races is hurtful, but what can we do? The white man holds all the keys to all the doors, holds all the reins to the horses, holds all the power and influential weight in this country. It’s our word against theirs, and who is the world more likely to believe, since the media and society has painted us as lesser individuals in the shadow of white people? Don’t hit me with statistics and the like. Open your eyes and look around you. Think really hard and be fucking honest with yourself before you reply or reblog.
So you idiotic cock-in-ass white folks reblogging just to interject with your lame ass apologetic excuse-making can take that cock out of your ass and insert it into your fucking flap-trap, because I don’t give a single solitary fuck what you think. Your opinion doesn’t matter when it comes to how I and other people of color feel about racism, and until you learn that it isn’t ABOUT YOU, then you’ll always be the bad guy. Plain and simple.
If This Were Cultural Appropriation “Ask Alice”…
I’m Irish, and people dress in ‘Kiss me, I’m Irish!” t-shirts all the time on St. Patrick’s Day…isn’t it the same thing?
The experience of ethnicity amongst white individuals in the US is almost exclusively symbolic. The claim that “I’m oppressed too because there was a time when people didn’t like the Irish” does not hold water because identifying as Irish in today’s context does not impact your life outcome in any negative way – it is a symbolic ethnicity. You get to choose to participate in your ethnicity when it is convenient or pleasurable for you to do so. A person from a historically underrepresented group does not get to shed themselves of their identity nearly as easily as you are able to – it is a very real and concrete part of their existence with regards to how they navigate in the social world.
But what about whiteface? Minorities are racist towards white people all the time…why is that okay?
In a nutshell, Racism = Prejudice + Power. Individual people of color do not have the power in this culture, therefore reverse racism is impossible. P.O.C.’s can be prejudiced against certain people, just the way anyone in a marginalized group can be, but they cannot be reverse-racist because of their lack of power within the systems and structures of American society. While I certainly don’t advocate the aforementioned, it certainly isn’t a justification to make the behavior acceptable – it’s wrong regardless.
Well, why don’t historically underrepresented groups just educate better?
It is not up to historically underrepresented people to make oppression more palpable to you; This implies an undue burden. For example — why should a Native person take all the responsibility to educate people about their culture? That would imply a privilege to interrogate or force that connection on someone else. Instead, do some initial research on your own – For the most part, most high-schoolers are taught at least some rudimentary level of research skills and methods. If you have further questions that you’d like to ask someone from a racially-marginalized group, you now have some background research and information to further the discussion. Showing effort means something. Most people will be appreciative of it!
But, I’m oppressed, too. What about me?
Instead of complaining and insisting that you share the same plight as oppressed people, become an ally. Be respectful, humble, and inquire. Examine yourself critically! Examine your position within society critically.
What is privilege and how does it relate to me picking out a costume at Halloween? Aren’t there better ways to address the issue?
Part of privilege is thinking you have the right to define things, conversations, contexts, and pick and chose what you want to talk about, listen to while ignore things you are uncomfortable with. It has nothing to do with merit (something you’ve earned), it is something you are born with. If you think you have a right to demand how someone from a historically underrepresented population should speak to you about their experiences of oppression (ie, “it makes me uncomfortable that you’re bringing this up this way…”), that is part of the problem. Instead, it would be more useful to do some internal reflection on privilege.
But, if you don’t share these cultures, they’ll die out! People should be happy we’re promoting their culture!
“Not sharing” culture doesn’t make it die out. There were historical reasons and oppressive policies design to stamp out marginalized cultures around the world. Saying, “it’ll die if you don’t share it” is a gross simplification of entire histories of marginalized persons. Not to mention, the means by which you’re “promoting” another culture are probably highly inaccurate and very stereotypical, at best.
But what about people of other cultures wearing things from American culture? For example, a person from Japan wearing a Sesame Street shirt?
First, let’s distinguish the difference between the sacred and the mundane. Sesame Street is not a religious or sacred thing. While it may be special to you (heck, it’s special to me), it is secular (mundane) and is not something tied to faith or something deeply ingrained in an entire culture’s way of being.
America is a world power. Sesame Street is a multibillion-dollar television show with many investors, lawyers, and hundreds of patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Sesame Street is not vulnerable in the same way that a culture is. Sesame Street has not been trampled on for centuries. People have not made fun of Sesame Street, told you that it’s not special, told you that they know how special it is without actually ever having seen it, and haven’t made sweeping generalizations or assumptions about this children’s tv show. And even if they had, this has almost definitely been on an individual level and not been indoctrinated by an entire nation. Let alone from the people in power of the nation in which you live. For your entire life.
Last year, I wore a costume like that…are you calling me a racist? I bought a costume like that for this Halloween…am I a bad person?
“It’s not about whether you’re a good person; prejudice and privilege and the blind spots they create, these are things good people are going to struggle with all their lives. We’re all human beings, we’re all going to be prone to having blind spots and preconceived notions – that’s the nature of being human, we’re imperfect. This attitude that, “I’m a good person, therefore I shouldn’t be questioned on things” is kind of like, “my bathroom is clean, so I don’t need to clean my bathroom.” We’re always going to gravitate toward having these flaws and misconceptions, and it’s impossible for us to always be aware of how our privilege is affecting our worldview and our actions. The key to being a “good person” is to constantly challenge yourself and be open to being challenged, and to respond to criticism with humility.” — Jay Smooth