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Systemic

August 17, 2011

Systematically oppressed because of your skin color.

Systematically oppressed because of your skin color.

You know what doesn’t happen to white people in the US?  This.

No matter what isolated incidents we trot out in our life to show how we’re secretly prejudiced against, this has never happened to us.  I needed to tell myself this many times before it clicked.  I grew up in a series of pretty shitty neighborhoods, and was a victim of some crimes that were probably racially motivated.  But then I could go home and watch my white heroes on my white movies and see my white friends on the white news and never ever be asked to leave because I was being too ethnic in a restaurant.  Yes, violence is bad, and it can be devastating when it happens to us, especially because of something we can’t help.  But white people always have the trump in the US.

And I notice how a lot of these conversations come out starting with arguing against the idea that racism exists in the States?  First it’s “racism isn’t a problem” but when it obviously is the backup becomes “well black people are racist, too.”  Isn’t that just saying racism IS a problem?  Don’t we want to be less of the problem?  Well, I guess that’s not necessarily given, but…

People wiser than I have broken down privilege better than I could.  Unpacking the invisible knapsack, etc.  Links are available for the interested (not sure yet how much of that I want to be doing on here).  But it always bears repeating–an unexamined life is one unlived, but more pertinently, one we can’t make generalizations from.  White is the default in the US, the null hypothesis.  There are lessons we never had to learn, and nobody asks us to, and many of us never will.  That’s not actually an excuse not to learn them, though.

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