Addictions of Race, Privilege and Cultural Denial

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
By Peggy McIntosh

I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools , and blank checks. – See more at blogsite

Author McIntosh’s candor and clarity of thought caught me somewhat by surprise. I have never read a fraction of the vast resources of literature and scholarly works on the subject of race. I have read enough to know that many Americans, including many white Americans like myself, are not only able to say with certainty racism is still with us, but exactly why, and how destructive it is for all of us in this great democracy of ours. My experience is largely anecdotal, but I have lots of it.

If you are or have ever been curious how crudely medieval views on race and culture have survived to the twenty-first century, a deadly virus in a modern world of both miracle antibiotics and people who choose not to take them, I think you will find Mcintosh’s full article a refreshingly clear read.
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Andy Rooney “sorry ass” Fraud

There’s a fake piece circulating on the email circuit now, “Ride on Andy Rooney”. It’s not by Andy Rooney as claimed, and doesn’t even represent his views. It’s evidently been around since 2003. It was sent to me, and I researched it, confirming my suspicion of fraudulence. I’m not going to reprint it here. Since it’s still in circulation, here’s my note to the friends who sent it:

All of us can agree with at least some of the comments, in some context or other, in the ramble attributed to Andy Rooney, but it isn’t his.
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Trent Lott

Two down. Dozens to go. Should we not celebrate his fall from power; should we not pass out the party favors and dance in the streets? Some will say he did a lot for their region. Yes, he did; he combined the civilized veneer of Washingtonian doubletalk with the charm of the Old South, ably representing a lot of folks who would like to see us all the way back in time to before the Mason Dixon line.

Trent Lott, Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms … they represented the strange new mix of New South and Old Confederacy. They learned not to say “lynchings” and “nigrah”. They adopted instead the cracker codeword rhetoric, the superficial parlance of “freedom”, setting the respectability of laissez-faire and Jefferson’s Rights of Man back a hundred years or more. Poor old Dick Armey; didn’t that boy have SUCH a hard time learning not to say “fag”?

It was as if throwbacks to an earlier time realized that, by adopting the dress and mannerisms of post-World-War-II cultures, they could “pass” … many who weren’t impacted personally by the votes and polemics of men like Lott will say that they weren’t so bad, that they did a lot to advance the cause of business and gun rights, and their power and influence brought factories and the railroad into town.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said it best. The racism and sentiment of Strom Thurmond’s segregationist world of 1948 was just as wrong and reprehensible then as it is now. Saying that these men really “weren’t so bad” is much like prating that Hitler made the trains run on time.

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ACLU & Cross Burning

Maybe you noticed in tonight’s paper that the Supreme Court is hearing a case on whether a law banning cross burning (a la KKK) is a violation of free speech, or a legitimate way to “punish” what the SF Chronicle called “racial intimidation”. No less an entity than the ACLU is helping defend the free speech view.

We found it appalling that, in the early stages of the hearing, the Justices focused mainly on what constitutes free speech and whether it was fair to single out cross burning as the only example of egregious actionable behavior.

It took the only black man currently sitting on the Court, Clarence Thomas, to point out that historically, cross burning is far more than symbolic speech or even intimidation. It’s an unmistakable physical threat. Thomas didn’t speak out until halfway through the hearing. The other Justices listened. This changed the course and tone of the debate.

I attended a gun show at the San Mateo County fairground facilities in the early 1990’s. Much of the offerings were garbage exhibited by low-lifers peddling cheap imported ammunition, war surplus castoffs and fake Nazi memorabilia. One exhibitor was hawking paper targets with the circle-and-diagonal “ban the …” symbol, a pink triangle, and telescopic sight crosshairs superimposed over a crude drawing of a face that was represented as “gay”. The shooting target had the word “Kill fags” printed prominently on it.

I asked the exhibitor if the target was his. When he responded “yes”, I turned him in to the expo officials. They made him take it down. Five minutes later, it was up again. If that’s “symbolic speech”, then I would surely have a similar right to “symbolically” publish his name and address with detailed instructions on how to locate and detonate his gas main.

However else one may size up the individual justices, these men are intellectually acquisitive. What can it mean when eight white Justices get mired on “symbolic speech” that overtly and unmistakably threatens violence and death to innocent, targeted individuals?

I very recently read a pundit’s observation that the ACLU was the only organization in America that could go to court to defend an individual’s right to burn down the ACLU Headquarters. Sorry, ACLU. You need to get off the dime on this one.

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