Who is right? - Perspectives on Race, Power and Privilege

Reply Sun 7 Feb, 2016 05:36 pm
This was an OK Cupid conversation I initiated with a Black female, age 20. Her profile talked a lot about how she supported various Black victims. I am a 27 year old White male.

Me: To most people I am pretty progressive. I am an artist dedicated to tearing down social constructions. We should talk and see if we get along. I like the way you are talking. ​
Me: Do you support all victims or only those who are black? Lol

Her: Niiiicceee. I love tearing down social constructions.
Her: That's an interesting question lol.
Here is a better one.
Do white people generally support all victims or only those who are white?

Me: Is that really a better question? That just depends on the person.... Power structures are certainly set up to support whites more than blacks or other minorities... What do you think?

Her: Yeah, it's a better question because I do not exactly see how it is suitable for a white individual to ask a black individual if they only support black victims in a world that does not and has never prioritized or let alone ACKNOWLEDGED black struggles. Black people need all the attention they can get. To make a long story short, your question just reeked of privilege.

On another note, I agree that power structures are set up to support whites. And it is really not even a matter of just what anyone thinks. That is what it is.

There are several forms of systematic oppression though. Racism (which you benefit from), misogyny/sexism (again, you benefit.. as well as other races of men), Homo-antagonism (You and I both benefit as heterosexuals which is the standard.), Transphobia (You and I have cis privilege. We identify with our social gender from birth and therefore we do not face stigma for it.).
The list goes on and on. Several forms of systematic forms of oppression that we must look into.

I would definitely say that you as a heterosexual white male which is quite a powerful status in society... you have a lot of unpacking to do.

Me: Wow. You don't know me, nor my experiences. I really do understand how you could see my comment that way, but you also are sounding like you have a little unpacking to do.

I have a pretty good understanding of power and privilege for someone with my social status. I have had some very unique experiences for someone in my shoes. I don't think the source of a question is important.

I really really do agree with you that Blacks need more support (a lot for many!) I think that there are two sides to this conversation, one side is changing power structures, supporting minorities, protesting and so on. And the other side is it's 2016, and we don't want children growing up with the idea of divisions! Its about the kids.

But also yeah. I totally am in support of what you do. You sound like a strong Black woman and a righteous sister! - I was also trying to push your buttons just a wee little bit to stimulate conversation, lol, and it seemed to have worked.
Her: Ooowee.
Her: Where do I begin...

Me: Let me have it!

Her: I do not need to know you personally to be able to identify where you have used your privilege. I just need to know how I have been affected by a certain ideology my entire life. I do have unpacking to do.. as every human being does. But that response was unnecessary as you are clearly being put in an uncomfortable position and therefore looking for a way to deflect. It's similar to saying "Well, we all have our own opinions." ..Gee, I would have never guessed that opinions are a common thing, you mega genius.

There are not two sides to this conversation. Let me guess what else... "Boohoo, reverse racism" huh? Yeah, no.

"It's 2016. We do not want children growing up with the idea of division."
Says the privileged party that orchestrated division.

If you want black people to have a better vision when it comes to reality, change reality. Otherwise you are asking us to be delusional and that is not happening.

My next question.. what is your definition of a "strong black woman"?

Me: I'm about to drive. I will read and respond later ​

Me: I have not been involved at all in creating divisions. I have greatly benefited from privilege no question. You are also quite privileged by global standards.

I'm not saying black people have a poor vision. Different people have different visions. Period. I want everyone to have a better vision including myself!

Some people say blacks can't be racist because of the power structure. There is a lot of credence to this argument, but it can still happen on a small scale.

I think you are a strong black woman because u stand up for the discrimination that you and others receive for being part of this group. Duh. And you are very aware of the difference in epistemology between among ethnicities and genders and so on.

I keep things pretty simple, try not to over think it (anymore lol) I have benefited greatly, so whenever I am exerting power, which is really most of the time, I try my best to do it equally... And in my life and art I try to educate about the lies of social constructions, plain and simple

Me: Do you find people who agree with you?

Her:Well I have said all I'm willing to say.

Me:Same! Good luck

Her: Save it, white privileged piece of ****
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Reply Sun 7 Feb, 2016 06:26 pm
Your thread title suggests that you think one or the other in that exchange is "right". That you'd even ask that question just adds to an impression of you as hopelessly clueless. An impression it's clear that diamond-sharp young woman received loud and clear a few minutes before she told you to **** off. Well, at least you're obviously impressed enough with yourself and your enlightened consciousness that a couple of dissenting opinions shouldn't cause you to miss a single step.
Reply Sun 7 Feb, 2016 08:48 pm
Ok. I honestly am clueless in a lot of ways. My perspective is well developed in some ways and very lacking in others.

I am about two years out of what was essentially a small cult. I was in an abusive 4 year homosexual relationship with a Charismatic, Genius, much older Black man. He is a dead ringer for Narcissistic personality disorder and definitely some psychopathy too. He was always trying to recruit young white male college students into his following. I endured 4 years of "training" to rid me of my "white privilege," among other things, but in a twisted and fucked up way. He actually is more educated than Cornell West, but just generally, well, you know a shitty guy.

It's hard to explain the depth of this experience, but it was a lot....

I feel have a lot to say, but I trying to figure that out, and also lacking some of the formal jargon to say it correctly. This was just testing the waters with this one I guess.
Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2016 05:06 am
I had to laugh reading the exchange. You went in balls to the wall because you believed you were totally enlightened to the race/privilege issue and kudos to you for trying to get a handle on it.

The answer to your question, imo, is she was right.

I kept stumbling over the same thing that it seems you're stumbling over when I was trying to understand white privilege: you are thinking individually, and she's thinking collectively.

The bottom line for me is no matter what I've personally done to try to be part of the solution for inequality, I still walk around in a different world than people with dark skin. I'm waved through on many issues that they aren't. Not my fault, but evidence of privilege.

You and I, if I read you correctly, are thinking more in terms of complete across-the-board racial equality on a case-by-case basis, and she's thinking one race should be the complete focus because they never got a level playing field. Your first question pissed her off because of that schism in perspective.

Anyway, you seem to be open-minded and seeking, and it looks like you're headed in the right direction. Don't beat yourself up too bad, but use this woman's answers to learn a bit.

Good luck.

BTW, hope you're healing from your crazy experience with the culty guy.
Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2016 05:46 pm
Thanks. It is pretty funny now that you mention it.
I feel that I was pretty insensitive and maybe boneheaded, but not really wrong, just to continue overanalyzing this conversation lol.
Weird way to start this conversation and pathway of thinking thinking, but this has inspired me to start telling my story of my time with "the culty guy." As part of this I am interested in filling the gaps and untwisting the skews in my learning of white privilege, race relations and so on.

I have a box of journals that encompasses most of my time with him, and I will before too long start a series of paintings and writings based off this. More matter of fact, without opinion. Just what happened and my emotional and mental states.
Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2016 07:04 pm
Sounds fascinating. Hope you'll share.
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Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2016 12:41 pm
Tbh? I was struck by all the big pseudo pychology words in the post that are supposed to allude to a sense of intelligence. What I didnt get from the post at all, was any sensitivity to black issues. A white man, obviously educated enough to spell with a thesaurus, is trying to outwit us with big words and if he is pulling that on us, he likely pulled it on her. She didnt fall for it. Good try priveleged dude.
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