One Last Look at White Privilege

The Amazing Atheist recently replied to a video circulating around that tlly pwns n00bs on their yt privlige, yo. You should check out his reply; I think he makes some good points. But the White Privilege Explained in Five Minutes video is apparently very popular. I feel the need to add another dissenting voice to the fray here because, really, if this is what’s considered an epic laying down of the law, a flawless bit of perfectly digestible argumentation, then no wonder the left is losing so much political ground. It’s lost the ability to tell when it’s being educational and convincing and when it’s just being condescending as all get out.

So let’s get started tackling this behemoth of intellectual arguments, I guess.

Have you ever been called unprofessional for wearing your hair the way it naturally grows out of your scalp?

No. While I’m not under the impression that this never happens, I hesitate to call it racism. It seems like professional settings tend to like hair to be contained, and black people’s natural hair just happens to be big and puffy, and just happens to lend itself more towards hairstyles like dreadlocks that are considered too casual. I’ve known white people with dread locks who got in trouble for being unprofessional. I’ve known white people with long, thick hair who have gotten in trouble for being unprofessional. By the way, I work in a professional setting, and here is what my hair looks like (it’s actually bigger now), and, as I’ve said, I haven’t once gotten in trouble:

daphne

Is your race accused of being terrorist for wearing scarves on their heads?

No.

So that’s why people associate Islam with terrorism. Scarves. Of course. People associate Islam with terrorist activity because Islamic extremism is the number one source of terrorist activity in the 21st century. The Communists are catching up, but they haven’t surpassed them yet. This doesn’t mean that every Muslim is a terrorist–Muslim communities are often the number one victims of Islamic extremism–but can we all just stop fucking pretending that people are making the Islam/terrorism association out of nowhere and for no reason? Can we also stop pretending that a hijab is just a scarf? Iranian women dressed like women pretty much everywhere else until the Islamic Revolution happened and all of a sudden no make-up and headscarves were all the rage. But it was just a fashion choice, guys! It’s not archaic religious garb forced on women in most Muslim majority countries under threat of punishment and/or violence. It’s just a scarf! Look this little American girl is wearing a headscarf with flowers on it!

Also, Islam is not a race. A huge percentage of Muslims don’t even come from the Middle East. A huge percentage of Muslims aren’t Middle Eastern or black. They’re Asian. So . . . what race are we talking about here?

Have you been stereotyped as a thug, terrorist, gang member, ghetto, lawn-mowing guy, rapper, or immigrant for no reason at all?

No. I have been stereotyped as a coon before, though. Does that count?

I guess a South African guy I met in a European airport once mistakenly thought that I wasn’t from the United States, but not having to deal with two seconds of extra awkwardness whilst talking to a foreign stranger in a Frankfurt airport is a very esoteric form of privilege.

I have resting-nice-face and dress like a hipster, so no one’s going to look at me and think I’m a thug or a gang member. I don’t follow a stupid religion, so being a terrorist in this day and age would be kind of difficult. I’m pretty sure I look like I haven’t done a hard day’s work in my life, so no one’s going to mistake me for a landscaper any time soon. And, as I said above, the only time anyone has ever been confused about my nationality is when I wasn’t even in America, and since this entire idea of “white privilege” has always come across as egregiously USA-centric, I’m not sure if that counts.

And, by the way, the “immigrant” example is accompanied by a picture of a presumably East Asian woman. Yes, East Asians, very frequent immigrants to the United States (so the chances of an East Asian person actually being an immigrant is fairly high) and one of the most financially successful racial demographics, above white Americans. White privilege, ya’ll!

If you answered no to any of these questions, then you have whiiiiiiiiite privilege!

Looks like I have white privilege, guys! *Looks at skin tone and becomes very confused.* It’s almost like homogenizing people’s experiences based off of race is stupid and not very helpful or accurate.

*rants about how black people’s only privilege is being considered as a race to be good at music and sports*

Is that not significant? People really like music and sports. Being successful in music and sports is very impressive and, as a concept, has carved itself out as a very distinct part of the American Dream that many, many people aspire to. White privilege is apparently oppressive and awful because white people don’t get asked awkward questions as much, but black people being considered to be naturally talented at things most people can only dream of being good at is just some little thing that can be swept under the rug as insignificant and culturally irrelevant and not worth anything? Consistency, dammit!

But we’re not talking about rapping, dancing, singing black privilege. We’re talking about world dominating, culturally appropriating, ruling almost every nation white privilege!

I’ve touched on all of these topics multiple times. These points are shit.

  • How much of an inferiority complex do you have to have to say without irony that white people “dominate the world” and rule “almost every nation”? I think most of the world would beg to differ. It’s not like every country outside of North America and Western Europe exists or anything.
  • This is also an incredibly limited world view to have for another reason: There are relatively few countries that care about skin tone more than they care about nationality. The racists in Western European countries are racist towards other pale people. The Scandinavians apparently fucking hate each other, and I doubt anyone would be able to visually tell apart a Norwegian and a Swede. The racists in Africa are a bunch of black people being racist towards a bunch of other black people. The racists in East Asia are a bunch of East Asians being racist towards other Asians. Because all of these people care about nationality and ethnicity more than looks. So this preoccupation with looks and looks alone is a very specific thing that really can’t be applied to the rest of the world.
  • Yes, the white privilege of being in charge of nations! Go on over to the Ukraine or Siberia or most of Russia and see how much privilege those people have because the government officials in charge of them are also a bunch of pale people. I’m sure they’re just living the high life. The kinship of the white race really keeps them warm during those Eastern European winters.
  • He used Katy Perry’s Dark Horse video as an example of cultural appropriation. I guess appropriating long-dead ancient Egyptian culture is now an offense as well. I bet the Pharaoh is sitting behind his MacBook right now writing an angry blog post about how Katy Perry shouldn’t dress in an over-the-top artists’ rendering of ancient Egyptian aristocracy garb. Wearing togas is still okay, though.

*does what I assume is supposed to be a humorous impression of a stereotypical white person, who, as per usual, is a borderline illiterate, racist hick. Said hick denies that white privilege is a thing and that he worked hard for everything he got*

This is, for some reason, not the same thing as stereotyping black people as thugs or Muslims as potential terrorists, though. Because, you see, when we unironically portray a race of people as only the most negative of the stereotypes about them, we’re being clever and thought-provoking and fighting against power and shit. This message has been brought to you by It’s Okay When We Do It!, the world’s leading brand in hypocrisy cover-ups since 1992.

Dave Chappelle you are not.

I’m sure you did, Mr. or Mrs. White Privilege, but your skin made it waaaay easier.

Pro tip: If you’re going to accuse white people of having it easier and not having to work as hard for their accomplishments, maybe don’t address that idea to a hickish, white trash stereotype. You know, the stereotype about poor, underprivileged white people. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Are white people a bunch of suit-wearing super villains who run the world, or are they a bunch of inbred hicks who want the niggers to get off their lawn? These are two very contrasting portrayals, is all I’m saying.

White privilege means no one questions how you got into that really, really great school or how you got that really, really great job. They just assume that you were highly qualified.

What about the white people who don’t go to a really great school or who don’t have a really great job?

What about all the white people in New Mexico, one of the most impoverished states in the US, who are now jobless because an overwhelming majority of them make their paychecks by doing potentially lethal grunt-work in the state’s currently failing oil business that’s laying off workers by the thousands? I know I’ve mentioned this before, but white males are on their way to becoming the least educated demographic in America. High school dropout rates are skyrocketing as well as general, honest-to-god illiteracy rivaled only by ESL speakers. Less of them are applying to colleges, and less are gaining higher education, which means they are one of the groups most effected by competition among unskilled workers and one of the groups most prone to long spans of unemployment because of it. Meanwhile, black women are up there with Chinese and South Asian immigrants as the most highly educated demographic in America.

But white privilege, yes, of course. Please, continue to complain about how no one listens to you or takes you seriously . . . in this video that has been liked and shared millions of times, with essentially all of the feedback being positive and supportive.

As for the “assumption” point, I’ve said this before and I’ll reiterate myself again. It is liberals who have gone on the record insisting that we need race quotas and affirmative action in schools and hiring. It is liberals who promote the notion that POC need an extra leg-up in order to be represented in hiring and academia. So, in short, if you don’t like everyone thinking that you’re an affirmative action hire, stop insisting that we should keep using affirmative action hiring practices. If you don’t like people questioning your merit and assuming that you’re not as competent as those around you, stop insisting that you’re not as competent as everyone else and need quotas to help you out. This is a problem you made, not racist white people.

Privilege is living in a country in which 87% of the lawmakers look like you despite the fact that your race makes up nowhere near 87% of the country.

But black actors making up a proportionally equal amount of award winners in American TV and cinema is racist because proportional representation is dumb and racist, and there should be more of them! Once again . . . fucking consistency. There is none.

I’m really wondering what these people think will change if POC get more “representation.” Race relations in America got worse under our first black president than they were back during the race riots of the 1990s. Newark, New Jersey has been under black governance since 1970. It’s longest serving black mayor, who was supposed to care so much about the black community and represent them better than any white man ever would, gave himself a pay raise at the overt and crippling expense of the mainly-black poor neighborhoods of Newark. The black mayor of Atlanta, Georgia took funds that were supposed to go to improving Atlanta’s dismal public schools and used it to buy himself a private helicopter. If only more strong black men like them were in power! We blacks would finally get the representation and power that has been denied us!!!!

This is the last time I’m going to make this point. If you think someone looking like you means they represent you, then you are an idiot with a very shallow idea of what “representation” means, and anyone you vote in is likely to exploit that stupidity for their own personal gain and leave you in the dust, laughing all the way to the bank.

White privilege is Googling the word “beauty” and it showing hundreds of pictures of white women.

Do you know how Google works? It factors in where you are from and what language you use. If you used an American server and you typed “beauty” in English, you’re going to get skewed image results because the US is mostly white and English is a language spoken by mostly white people. This is ignoring that Googling “beauty” isn’t some sea of whiteness. There are other races peppered in there. Beyonce is pictured twice on the first fucking page. Also, according to super official dating site statistics, Asian women are the most attractive demographic by a fucking landslide, to everyone of other races. How does that factor into white people apparently having the gift of being the hottest?

Guess what, if you type in 美しさ, you’ll get hundreds of pictures of Japanese women. If you type in جمال, you’ll get hundreds of pictures of Arab women. If you type in güzellik, you’ll get hundreds of pictures of Turkish women. Are you starting to see my point?

White privilege is Googling the word “God” and it showing hundreds of pictures of white men.

Blame the Catholic church for popularizing the image of Jesus as some white hippy dude. I also feel inclined to bring up TJs point that most physical humans who we have given god-like qualities to in pop culture are a bunch of black dudes, Morgan Freeman having the voice of God being the biggest example.

This is also yet another esoteric point because you’re assuming that I give any amount of fucks what people think God looks like, and I don’t. It doesn’t make me insecure to think that people’s imaginary friend doesn’t look accurate in the pictures they draw of him. I’m sure there’d be some amount of controversy among the various sects and localities of Muslims over what the Prophet Muhammad looks like if people were actually allowed to draw him, but it looks like we’ll never know for sure.

White privilege is not being monitored in a store because you look like you steal stuff.

I can only recall this happening to me once for the entire time I’ve been alive. The irony is that I actually did go through a petty theft phase in high school where I would steal random things all the time, and I was never monitored and never caught doing it. Yay, stereotypes!

In all honesty, that’s just anecdotal evidence and I’m sure this does legitimately happen to people. But the whole point of this video is to be some huge gotcha on white people. “SEE, you don’t have to deal with THIS, and WE do!” So the sole fact that I’m a black person who doesn’t have this experience shoots the message of there being some homogeneous black struggle where we all have to deal with this because we don’t have racial privilege in the foot. What’s their argument going to be? Did some white privilege just rub off on me, and that’s why I never got in trouble?

White privilege is being six times less likely to be arrested than black people.

Are you doing things that warrant getting arrested? I’m against arresting people for petty drug charges as much as the next guy, and that’s where the brunt of police profiling of black people goes. But that still doesn’t say much about the fact that black people are committing disproportionately more actual crimes like armed robbery and murder. I’m not going to die on the hill of “Let this guy who robbed someone at knifepoint go, because he’s black, and there are too many of those guys getting arrested!”

White privilege is your history being taught as a core part of the curriculum and mine being an elective.

I actually think the way the US teaches history is stupid, so I’d actually be inclined to agree with this. Not for the race-baity reason of “white privilege,” but just because it’s never made sense to divide up historical events by the race of the people who are contributing to them. Did you know that the fight for black civil rights was happening at the same time as McCarthyism and ‘Nam? I didn’t for an embarrassingly long time. American history books tend to be really shitty at putting things in a full historical context. They’re prone to making it seem like all of these events were single isolated moments where nothing else was happening, and that’s especially true of “black history” which doesn’t bother telling you the context of any of the shit you’re learning about. The rise of funk and soul had a very reciprocal relationship with the rise of rock n’ roll, for instance, but you’d never be told that. You’d just know that both of them happened.

So, yes, this is stupid, because dividing up history like it’s made up of individual isolated incidents that never interacted with each other is stupid and all of these “[insert race here] history” courses further promote that style of teaching. On the college side of things, though, this is the fault of POC, not racist white people. It’s POC who insisted that academia should begin catering more to ethnic groups and ethnic groups specifically, which is why you got entire departments dedicated solely to only talking about certain racial groups.

White privilege is having a history book that doesn’t start off with you being a slave or a barbaric savage.

Well, if you’re reading an American history book, what do you want? Africans were brought to the US as slaves. That’s how they got here. I’d be inclined to agree that history courses are incredibly one-sided on this topic because they never talk about how they became slaves to begin with, and they never talk about the fact that not all black people in the US were slaves. But, in general, that’s how black people showed up here. Do you want a history book that starts off talking about warring West African tribes that kept people from other groups as slaves, who they then sold to the white people who arrived as a means of resource trading? Would that make you feel better?

Also, what history book is depicting Native Americans as barbaric savages? I took lots of history classes in elementary, middle, and high school and every single one of them spent the first couple weeks talking almost exclusively about how much the Native Americans got screwed over by colonists. I didn’t know how political parties worked or what countries had colonies where, but I sure as fuck knew that the Trail of Tears was evil.

White privilege is being able to teach history only from the perspective of the colonizer.

Two of my assigned text books for Advanced Placement US History (a standardized-across-all-schools course) were one book that focused exclusively on Native American accounts of colonization and one book that focused on the African American perception of slavery and post-Civil War attitudes. Fail.

Also, white people aren’t the only ones who colonized shit. Just going to throw that out there. Hell, when the first batch of colonizers showed up on the coast, the Powhatan tribe just got done fighting a bloody land feud with multiple neighboring tribes, where they took over territory and made many women and children from those tribes slaves. African slaves were gained mainly through this same type of territorial feud where larger groups pushed in on the land of smaller ones in an attempt to take it and its resources over.

The thing is, I’d be okay with teaching a more rounded view of history. I’d prefer it, actually. I’m not a fan of the American exceptionalism you find in a good number of history text books that makes it seem like America is just awesome and amazing, and the Trail of Tears and slavery were sad moments on an otherwise spotlessly heroic and gentlemanly past of exploration and innovation. That being said, it seems like many liberals who fight for a reformation of US history textbooks want to go in the complete opposite direction where the colonists did nothing good or admirable a day in their fucking lives and everyone was evil and awful, look how bad we treated minorities. That also seems like a really wrong way to go about things.

On an off-note, these guys would fucking hate taking history classes in Japan. Fun fact: they don’t make it seem like everything was hunky-dory until evil Western colonizers showed up and ruined everything.

White privilege is getting lost at sea, thinking your going to India, winding up somewhere that’s already inhabited, and still get credit for discovering it.

Well, he did discover it as far as Europe was concerned. No one else from where he was had been there before. I’m just going to apply your standards to something totally mundane to show you how stupid this point is. I’ve started listening to the goth metal band Ghost recently. I had no idea that band existed. I’d never heard a song by them. I’d never seen a picture of their album cover in passing. I had absolutely no knowledge of them whatsoever. I was looking for a song by another band that I already knew about when I stumbled across them on accident.  So, according to these guys, because Square Hammer by Ghost had already been viewed a couple million times before I stumbled across it, I didn’t discover it. I introduced my friend to this band, but he cannot say, “My friend found this band and told me about it,” because other people already knew Ghost existed.

What.

White privilege is the fact that anything you didn’t know about is a new discovery as soon as you notice it.

Japanese privilege is the Japanese aristocracy introducing Dutch Studies to its universities like a new thing they just discovered even though the Dutch had those studies first. The bastards.

White privilege is when you can ask for equality and not be considered a hate group.

Who are you talking about? Black Lives Matter? The media and left-wing darling that can’t do a thing wrong as far as they’re concerned, to the point where they’ll edit footage to make it seem more peaceful than it is? The group that is in no way classified as a hate group by any reputable source? Yes, there are individuals who think it’s a hate group. I sometimes think it’s a hate group depended what offshoot of it we’re talking about. Oh no, people think things about a group you like, that you don’t agree with! Privilege!

Also, antifa is a mostly white group that protests racism, and they’re getting a pretty cold reception in the mainstream. Just so you know.

Also, having a hate group like the KKK be listed as a non-violent Christian organization and not have the rest of your race be labeled as terrorists.

The KKK is listed as a non-violent Christian group because that is what the KKK is at this point. If they were still lynching people in the street on the regular, they’d be acknowledged as violent. But they aren’t. The KKK is a half-dead organization gasping out its final breaths as humanity is dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. I live in a town where the KKK holds rallies and stands on street corners asking for donations every now and again, and people laugh at them. I gave the KKK a few bucks once, because they are a joke. The police presence at their rallies is to protect them from people who would otherwise harm them.

When ISIS starts being a joke, when open members of ISIS are begging on street corners for monetary support, and they have to get the local authorities to protect them from the violence of people who don’t tolerate their hate mongering, when the religion behind ISIS stops violently manifesting its laws and oppressing huge swaths of people. When that is the case, you can make this comparison. Until then, this comparison is garbage.

White privilege is not having your application thrown out because your name is weird. White privilege is when everything that is not regular or common to your race is weird!

Are you talking about the job application thing? You want to talk about the college application process where applicants with Asian names are put on the bottom of the pile because they have too many impressive Asians, and blacks/Latinos are put at the top? Applications suck. There should be blind hiring and blind college acceptance where you don’t know the name, race, or gender of the applicant until you’ve already decided whether or not you want to give them the time of day. Until then, these kinds of unfair things will happen. But if we do that, how will we give priority hiring and acceptance to black people in order to fill our affirmative action quota? These are the important questions. Also, on an off note, I wouldn’t hire someone named Sholodanay either. Call me racist all you want. I don’t care.

On the second point, how is this a “white” thing? People thinking that things that come from other groups is weird isn’t new and it isn’t unique to white people. My black classmates thought I was weird because I watched anime. My white mom thinks I’m weird because I like anime. My Japanese host sibling thinks English is stupid and doesn’t sound like a real language. My white friend with curly red hair was seen as weird by other white people because that color and type of hair is relatively rare. My school had a white Russian exchange student, and everybody thought his Russian name was weird. We also had an African speaker come to a black conference I went to in high school and everyone there, all black kids, thought that her African name was weird. How is this a white people thing?!

 White privilege is being able to walk into a church, kill eight people, and be walked out by police and taken to Burger King.

Is white privilege also killing yourself to avoid getting arrested? Because that’s what happens in the case of the majority of mass shooters. The second most likely occurrence is that they get gunned down by the cops. A mass shooter making it out of a mass shooting is exceedingly rare, and using one example of some racist white kid not getting killed by the cops as if it offsets the overwhelming majority of other examples where the shooter gets gunned right the fuck down either by himself or others, is disingenuous. What, do you think it’s because he killed some black folks, so the racist cops decided to go easy on him? Do you have any proof of that whatsoever? Because if you don’t, that’s just what you think happened with your Everything is Racist lens, and it’s just as likely a reason for why he got out alive as any other reason I can pull out of my ass to explain it. The Burger King part is weird, though. I’ll take your word for it and assume it happened, but weirder things have happened.

White privilege is having the cool stuff your ancestors did be talked about every other month, while my ancestors only get one month.

You do realize that Black History Month is something asked for by black people, right? Just throwing that out there. I’ve already talked about how this is stupid. Here’s a question, though: If we expand our cultural and historical breadth, can we talk about the shitty things black people have done, too? Can we talk about how Africa has an award for leaders who actually step down when it’s their time to without becoming violent dictators? Can we talk about that, or do you just want to talk about the cool, awesome things? If white people have to own all the shitty things their ancestors have done, black people have to do the same thing.

White privilege means you won’t be told to go back to your country.

Tell that to the Polish people who live literally anywhere other than Poland. Europe hates them for some reason.

This mentality confuses me, because black people seem very, very intent on seeing themselves a one collective group. The things individual black people accomplished in the past are the accomplishments of all black people through all time. The suffering of black people in the past is the suffering of all black people through all time. A black scientist is a win for black people. A black novelist is the voice of black people. Black people can be represented by other black people interchangeably because we all want and experience the same things. But Africa is not our country. If you tell us that, you’re being racist.

*long rant about how manifest destiny killed lots of people and about how Mt. Rushmore is bad because it glorifies bad people* You’re never called a terrorist, or a war mongering murder, or a psychopath and are glorified as a founding father who did something courageous and beautiful.

Aren’t you calling them out as terrorists right now? Once again, millions of people have seen, shared, and agreed with this video you’re making. It’s not like this is a rare opinion to have in this day and age. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who a.) knows about the Mexican-American War and b.) thinks it’s something other than a morally awful clusterfuck. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t acknowledge Andrew Jackson as being fucking crazy, even if they like him.

Were the founding fathers perfect people? Hell no. They definitely aren’t perfect by our 21st century standards. But this hearkens back to the point I was making before about how people of this mentality seem to approach the topic of American history from the most negative stance humanly possible where they want nothing good said about anyone. One of the people on Mt. Rushmore is Abraham Lincoln for fuck’s sake, but apparently he’s just a war mongering murderer who did nothing courageous or admirable whatsoever. Yes, Thomas Jefferson had slaves, but he also penned one of the most important and influential documents in known history that upheld a standard of democracy and personal liberty that stands up as a standard for human rights to this day. Yes, Polk was war hungry and more than a little bit insane, but he also achieved the goal of making and successfully governing over a huge country that stretched from coast to coast during a time when maintaining the integrity of a country the size of Maine was exceedingly difficult.

And, yes, before you go on a rant, I’d be more than willing to acknowledge the good points of questionable, non-white historical figures as well. That also means acknowledging their bad points, though, which I’m not sure these guys want to do. Malcolm X was just a down-home, admirable freedom-fighter!

 *talks about indentured servants in America, who were usually white, and who were made more promises of freedom and land than black slaves*

Good thing they bypassed the fact that the typical way of dealing with an indentured servant was either to a.) work/starve them to death before you had to make good on the promise of letting them go and giving them land or b.) keep tacking expenses onto their indentured servitude so that they remained an indentured servant far past the initial number of years they agreed to or, at best, were set free only to owe a crippling amount of debt that led to them working for the same person for free afterwards, kind of like a slave. This isn’t me saying that indentured servitude was better or worse than slavery, but their attempt to downplay the fact that it was slavery under another name is actually really insulting. Fuck all the people who suffered under that systematically oppressive system! Were they called slaves? Nope. Check mate! Black people win the victim games again! White people were never oppressed! Only us.

*talks about the 200+ years of chattel slavery and how obviously awful it and its rule set was*

No one is arguing that slavery didn’t suck. No one thinks that it was some grand ole time. Even the stupid people who say stuff along the lines of “black people should be thankful for slavery because that’s how they wound up in America” don’t harbor any illusion about slavery somehow being a pleasant thing. This is what conversations about white privilege always–and I mean always–boil down to: slavery and how bad it was. And if you have any trace of a dissenting opinion left in you, they accuse you of not acknowledging how bad American slavery was. “But slavery” is their ace-in-the-hole argument to win any debate.

You want to talk about crime rates in mostly-black communities? But slavery.

You don’t think having the occasional awkward conversation is a sign of living in a systematically oppressive society? But slavery.

You think white privilege is a stupid idea that demonizes white people for the sins of their fathers? But slavery.

And, of course, we’re not going to acknowledge the slavery that happened anywhere else in the world. We’re not even going to acknowledge the other races that were enslaved in America. Black people were slaves once, and it is what’s to blame for literally every even slightly bad thing that has happened, is happening, or will happen in the future to a black person. That’s all you need to know. And if you want to talk about anything any more than that, you just don’t understand how bad slavery was, probably because the existence of slavery hundreds of years ago made you racist.

This argument actually angers me because black American people act like they have a fucking monopoly on being horribly enslaved and that white people have a monopoly on enslaving people. Slavery is such a big deal! It’s such a big deal that we’re going to treat the enslavement of Africans in the US hundreds of years ago like it’s a still-open wound pulsating puss and blood everywhere, a gash on the country’s anatomy that will never come close to scabbing over, that will always drain the black community of its life blood until the end of time . . . and conveniently never mention the fact that slavery is still a thing now and that it’s worse than it’s ever been.

When anyone in America talks about slavery and how awful it is, and how horrendous it is, and oh how much it’s ruined the potential of everyone involved, it’s always about African slavery that ended hundreds of years ago. You’ll never hear them talk about the the thousands of children kidnapped in rural Africa to become slaves in lethally dangerous mines and quarries, lucky to live into adulthood. You’ll never hear them talk about the kidnapped children who are repeatedly raped, physically mutilated, and indoctrinated into becoming child brides or child soldiers. You’ll never hear them talk about the Eastern European and South American women who are abducted by the hundreds of thousands to be made into drugged-out sex slaves. You’ll never hear them talk about the South Asian immigrants who go to the Gulf and have their passports stolen by the Saudi government, where they are then forced to be the slave labor behind Saudi Arabia’s lavish upper class areas. You’ll never hear them talk about the slaves all over the Middle East who are used by insurgent groups to go out and see if there are landmines anywhere. You’ll never hear about Romani people being enslaved and given no legal means of acting against those who harm them because of their statelessness. You’ll never hear about the North Korean camps where the families of those who commit even the slightest amount of political dissent are imprisoned and worked to death without pay for three generations. You’ll never hear about the sex slaves in Thailand who are often genitally mutilated after being bought.

But you will hear about how bad it was that black people in America were slaves once. I’m sure the guys making this video, living a comfortable first-world life in one of the most developed and politically free countries in the fucking world, selling merch on the internet to their sizable fanbase that loves to hear them talk about how bad they have it, can really relate on a deep, personal level to all of those people I listed above. After all, their [insert however many greats] grandfather was probably a slave.

From that time on, to be white, even to be poor and white, meant getting some kinds of preferential treatment.

Like what? If we lived in Jim Crow era Alabama, you’d have a point. What’s going on now? Are those examples you gave in the beginning of the video all you have to work with? Because those are pretty weak.

This is not said to make white people feel guilty about their privilege. It’s not your fault that you were born white-skinned, and I get it: You’re not your ancestors. But, whether you realize it or not, you do benefit from it and it is your fault if you do not maintain awareness of that fact.

 I don’t even know what “maintain awareness” means. What can it mean besides, “feel guilty”? I’m honestly asking this. What would this “awareness” entail other than a white person seeing a black guy on the street and consciously reminding themself, “Remember, that black guy has it worse than you, so try not to make his life even worse with your existence. He’s had a hard time.” What do you want them to do? Really? What? Do you want them to decline a promotion they get at the office and pass their boss a note telling them to take a look at Tyrone for the position instead? Do you want them to pay reparations? I guess I already know you want them to institute quotas.

So there’s one thing that I know you want done, and it’s fucking stupid. You’re not making your case.

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Azealia Banks: Wallowing in Her New Found Relevancy Since 2014

I don’t want to judge Azealia Banks. I don’t know her. I don’t listen to her music. I don’t feel qualified to judge her personal character. That being said, Azealia Banks is really starting to seem like an opportunist. Really starting to seem like it. Not to mention that she really seems like someone who is clamoring to gain relevance by “punching up,” and criticizing people who are more famous/more relevant than her. Now, I’m all for people with intelligent things to say criticizing people who should rightfully be criticized, and I don’t really care what the power dynamics of the situation are. If you’re a D-list celebrity who wants to point out that Tom Cruise did something wrong, go ahead. I think people accusing others of “Just being jealous and/or a hater” are idiots who are saying nothing and adding nothing and making it harder to get an actual conversation going. I don’t know that these are her intentions, obviously, but her actions are not helping her case. Her actions are not making her seem like “the genuine article.” I’m also firmly of the opinion that she would hate me, being a black person who has negative things to say about other black people, and all.

If Azealia Banks isn’t saying these things just as a way to desperately cling to the only thing that has granted her cultural relevancy in years, I would be really fucking surprised. I’ve been unwillingly following this who debacle for a while–Thanks liberal arts college friends on Facebook!–and from what I see of it, I’m really starting to get the impression that Banks likes the attention she gets by setting herself up as the voice of racial wisdom regrettably relegated to the underground scene while perpetrators of “the problem” who “just don’t get it” are given mainstream gigs by our dumb, racist society. And if Banks is the voice of “real” black America, telling it how it is, no wonder people think we’re dumb. Neil D. Tyson became the voice of science in America in an organic fashion by really loving and talking about science. He never came across as someone who was intentionally trying to become relevant. He just became that by doing what he did. Azealia Banks very much comes across as someone who is trying to become the “new voice” of the people. And she’s trying to goddamn hard.

I think it’s her targeting of specific people that’s starting to rub me the wrong way and making me thing this is just for publicity. If these problems are so prevalent and so pervasive in our culture, why does she target one specific person, one person who just so happens to be more famous than her? Why doesn’t she just talk about it? Why is it important to drag other people unwillingly into the conversation by tagging them in your Twitter rants and making fun of them both if they don’t respond and if they do and directly referring to specific people as “part of the problem?”  If these are problems everyone has, why does it seem like she’s calculating what A-list rapper to “criticize” next as opposed to just voicing her criticisms in a more generalized fashion and letting intelligent people connect the dots themselves? If Iggy is so obviously part of the problem, than people should be able to figure that out without Banks calling Iggy a bitch on Twitter (Really intelligent, by the way. Truly Azealia Banks is a voice of wisdom and objective social commentary.). Something tells me that she’s only one new Macklemore single away from dragging him out of whatever hidden bomb shelter he’s hauled himself up in since he dropped his last album and criticizing him over something, the fact that her criticisms of him line up with the time he became relevant again being totally coincidental.

So apparently, she had “intelligent social commentary” to direct at Kendrick Lamar. You know, Kendrick Lamar, one of the only mainstream rappers that has anything intelligent to say about anything anymore. That guy. Banks is punching up even more now! She’s put the cross hairs on someone with actual talent. As long as she’s not “punching down,” it’s fine. I have this to say: If people want to respond to what Lamar had to say about Ferguson, fine. I don’t care. But this particular instance of it is the most disingenuous, obviously pandering thing I have ever seen. Honestly. Banks’ reply to Kendrick Lamar seems more fake and coldly calculated to pander to a certain demographic than the Twilight series. She’s clearly trying to “get the liberal vote,” if you know what I mean. I don’t even know why liberals who agree with the general idea are sharing this article and liking it. I guess I just assumed they’d be smart enough to realize when someone is clearly just saying what they need to say to get you to like them, but apparently not.

I guess I should explain. Here is what Lamar had to say: “What happened to [Michael Brown] should’ve never happened. Never. But when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within. Don’t start with just a rally, don’t start from looting — it starts from within.” A fairly benign statement decrying the violence that occurred during and after the Michael Brown debacle as unjustified. People responding to what Kendrick Lamar had to say is aright by me. If they want to disagree, that’s fine. And, you know, if one of my Facebook friends said the kinds of things that Banks said in response to this, I wouldn’t care. I wouldn’t agree, but I would also acknowledge that it’s something they would say. Banks’ tweets to Lamar, though, do not sound like something she would say at all. Q-Tip’s biased but generally okay text block about hip hop was something Q-Tip would say. Lupe Fiasco’s utter emotional breakdown on Twitter after he defended Iggy from “haters” is something Lupe Fiasco would say. From looking over her Twitter feed, Banks telling Iggy “If you’re down to ride with us bitch you gotta RIDE ALL THE WAY” is something Banks would say.

Now, I realize that there are only so many things to say. There are only so many points to make or buzzwords to throw around. It’s hard to not sound like you’re just regurgitating what you’ve heard elsewhere because sometimes, someone else has just said it all, and there’s really nothing else for you to add. That being said, people tend to say common things their own way. Her tweets about Kendrick Lamar do not sound like something she would say. Life is not a bad Oscar-bait movie–people don’t just stutter into eloquence whenever they have something “deep” to say. This really seems like Banks picked up a few buzzwords from her new fanbase of social justice lovers and just ran with it, sprinkling in some profanity so it doesn’t overly seem like she just copy/pasted what she said from someone else’s tumblr blog. So here they are:

“When we don’t respect ourselves how can we expect them to respect us” dumbest shit I’ve ever heard a black man say.”

“Lol do you know about the generational effects of poverty, racism and discrimination?”

“There are things in society that benefit a select few of us. fine…. But don’t put down the rest by saying they don’t respect themselves.”

“HOW DARE YOU open ur face to a white publication and tell them that we don’t respect ourselves…. Speak for your fucking self.”

Let’s go one by one, shall we?

“When we don’t respect ourselves how can we expect them to respect us” Dumbest shit I’ve ever heard a black man say.”

I don’t know, Azealia. I feel like any one lyric from No Flex Zone is infinitely dumber than even the stream of consciousness drivel that falls out of Kendrick Lamar’s face when he’s talking in his sleep. And I’m just gonna throw out some totally unironic Kanye West quotes now: “I am God’s vessel. But my greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live;” “Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and self-absorbed. I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book’s autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books;” “I feel like I’m too busy writing history to read it.” But yeah. Kendrick Lamar’s quote about how people need to respect themselves before others respect them–no, that was the dumbest thing a black man has ever said. Hyperbole does not suit you, Ms. Banks. Quit using it. Also, what does him being black have to do with it being “dumb shit?” If it’s a dumb thing to say, it’s a dumb thing to say. The race of who says it should be irrelevant, though something tells me you’d be calling for his racist head on a fucking stick if Lamar was white and said that.

Next.

“Lol do you know about the generational effects of poverty, racism and discrimination?”

This is the one that really seems like she copy/pasted from something. Also, once again, adding “lol” as a preface to talking about racism does not make you seem wise. It makes you seem like a condescending prick. “Oh, hahaha, he doesn’t know about something I took an intro course on in college. How quaint, haha.” Now that the generally punchable tone as been addressed (great tone for “an educator” to use, by the way, really makes people want to learn from you), let’s look at the actual content.

I have my qualms with claims of institutionalized racism for the same reasons I have qualms with things like the patriarchy. Creating some nebulous historically connotative problem is interesting from an academic perspective but falters under scrutiny and application. Not to mention that it always seem infinitely cynical. I’m a cynical person, I acknowledge that–but claims of institutionalized racism don’t seem to help anything. They make “good white people” feel bad for no reason, and they enforce the idea that black people are just always going to have it worse in every situation ever no matter what. It’s like rape culture: simultaneously absolving people of all blame for negative outcomes yet also somehow making them look universally terrible anyway. Not only are black people exempt from having to take any responsibility for the negative aspects within the black community/black culture because anything bad they do is because slavery was a thing once, so it’s the white man’s fault; but they’re also implicitly depicted as a perpetually broken group of people unable to recover from any hurt dealt them, no matter how minor or how long ago–people who are just expected to turn out badly because they are nothing but puppets controlled by the strings of a universe stacked against them, pure victims of circumstance with no choice but to become criminals, so we can’t judge them. And that’s the left saying that. I don’t know what’s more racist, Fox News putting all the blame on black people even when it doesn’t make sense, or leftists just patting black people on the head and talking to them like petulant children who should have lower standards of decency because we shouldn’t expect much from them anyway.

What about all the other racism in America’s past? What about all the Chinese people who died horrible deaths building our railroads, and then that one tiny span of time where we put Asian people in internment camps and continued to treat them like shit afterwards until pretty much the 60s, right along with black people? What about all the Jews we kicked out of the country when they fled here in WWII? Hell, what about Italians? America treated them like shit. They still make up disproportionately huge chunks of the lower and working class communities in cities, they also created race-based gangs to protect themselves and foster kinship in the past, and the “poor Italian American thug” stereotype is just as prevalent as the “poor black thug” one. And all of that happened closer to now on the timeline than slavery did. But for some reason black people are the only ones held to a lower standard because their race got screwed over in the past. What about Native Americans–they got massacred in the past, yet the ones who are left are generally expected to have good, non-criminal lives if the significant proportion of Native American children applying to/getting into/going to prestigious schools is any indication. A Jewish Italian woman  is still expected to do well. A Jewish man in Germany is expected to do well. A Chinese immigrant who hardly even speaks English but who comes to America and gets put into the school system despite that language barrier is still expected to do well. It’s only black people who’s “inherently oppressed” circumstances give them an out to just suck at life and have people accept that without question.

The difference, then, is not that black people were treated badly. Tons of people are part of groups that have been treated badly. Most people are. actually. As it turns out, humans are dicks with a tendency to not be nice to anyone ever. All you have to do is look at English/Irish relations to know that having white skin does not make other white people treat you well by default. The difference then has to be more internal in nature. Because if Indians can bounce back from Andrew Jackson and Jewish people can bounce back from the Holocaust, it’s not just history being mean to someone that keeps their entire group down decades and even centuries later. You’ve got to take culture into account at some point. And black culture has some problems that you can’t blame the white man for. So, I am sorry, Ms. Banks, but I do not buy that institutionalized racism is a justification for acting like an ass. And many a person during the Ferguson debacle acted like an ass.

“There are things in society that benefit a select few of us. fine…. But don’t put down the rest by saying they don’t respect themselves.”

No, I’ll totally do that. I’m not going to say that black people don’t respect themselves. But I will say that the mainstream black culture that many black people adhere to is not one that cultivates self-respect. Black American culture has plenty of cool things, but–like every culture–it has its flaws. To stop talking about “the coloreds” for a moment–I love Japan. I am on my way to being fluent in Japanese and I hope to live there for at least a handful of years after college. It’s a cool place with a beautiful culture that I wouldn’t mind living in. It’s also repressive to a fault, oddly hypocritical when it comes to expressions of sexuality, more than a bit racist toward its Chinese and Korean neighbors, and on par with Russia when it comes to how isolationist it is. No culture is perfect and no culture is beyond criticism. Black American culture has flaws, and like how Japan can’t blame all of its flaws by being atom-bombed by America, black culture can’t sweep its flaws under the rug by writing all of the off as a byproduct of racism. Because when you blame your faults on someone else, it turns out that you don’t really do anything to even begin to fix those flaws yourself.

So back to black culture and self-respect. I’m sure that plenty of black people have fine self-esteem. But when you live around people who make fun of you for doing the right thing (because being an upstanding citizen is being white y’all), that is not a culture that values self-respect. That’s why black kids don’t like being smart a lot of the time–because being smart isn’t “being black.” It’s why black people with money are automatically deemed “less black” and “less authentic” because they don’t come from the hood and have shitty lives. It’s why black people who live in ghettos complain about gang violence but also do nothing to discourage it and get flat out angry when people actively try to stop it. And when you live in a country where the people “on your side” are telling you that you pretty much have no autonomy, that if you become a gangbanger who kills people for wearing the wrong colors, well you’re just a victim of circumstance and nothing greater should have been expected of you anyway, so you met the low standard they had and that’s all that matters–that is not something that encourages self-respect. That’s something that internalizes low standards as being perfectly acceptable. And when significant numbers of black people go on the record saying that they’re okay with rioting–not protesting, mind you, but rioting–just because they’re angry, that is not something that indicates very much self respect. (Even the peaceful protesting at Ferguson was questionable in my opinion: How is shouting down cops who may or may not have even done anything to you, and calling them loads of terrible things and then getting mad when they react to being called terrible things for hours, a protest?) And when others defend that reaction because “what else could they be expected to do–they’re mad–that’s how black people react to being mad, they don’t know any better” that doesn’t help. A culture that respects itself would go through effort to cut the bad fruit off of the tree, not continually act like the bad fruit is perfectly acceptable because that’s “just how we are, stop judging us, that’s racist.”

“HOW DARE YOU open ur face to a white publication and tell them that we don’t respect ourselves…. Speak for your fucking self.”

Azealia Banks is racist, guys. I know I said that in my last post on this topic too, but yeah. She’s racist. She is the stereotypical, as-seen-by-Fox-News black person with a chip on her shoulder and a nostalgic longing for Malcom X style race activism. Oh really, he told this to a white publication [enter scare chords here]? How fucking dare he? The nerve of him. It’s almost like he doesn’t relegate himself to only associating with people who have the same skin tone as him. The fucking race traitor. Doesn’t he know that all of us sit together at the cafeteria and no one is allowed to break from that?

That’s essentially what’s she’s saying. Kendrick Lamar is a race traitor for saying something bad about other black people around white people. I guess that makes me a race traitor too. Awesome. So, if he had said this to a “black publication” would it have been alright? Is it only when someone tells white people to their face that *gasp* “some of the problems black people have aren’t white people’s fault” that there’s an issue? Is deviating from the fucking hivemind of “Black person always victim, white person always bad guy, does not matter what actually happens–wash, rinse, repeat” an offense now? How dare he say something like that? Black people can only talk to the whites with a pre-approved script that doesn’t say anything too racy now? Azealia Banks is the kind of person who sat with all the other black kids at the lunch table and was perfectly okay with that arrangement. And I still have no idea how she became the liberal darling for “telling it how it is” when her treatment of white people is to be overtly racist and exclusionary toward them, and her reaction to a dissenting black opinion is condescension, righteous indignation, and betrayal. How could a black person say those things? E tu Kendrick?

I’ve officially had enough of this woman, guys. I have had enough. And why has no one called her out for being racist?! You’d think calling out racist rhetoric would be kinda important right around now. Oh, wait a minute, she’s only a bitch to white people and race traitor black people with internalized racism. It’s okay then. Barf.