Simple comic strip explains the complexities of white privilege

Nobody said that.

Tempest said “I’m not reading straight white cis male authors for one year.” The outrage machine whipped it up into “she’s TELLING YOU what to read FOREVER!”

(On Month 2 of the Tempest challenge. Reading great stuff, some of which was already on my “to be read” shelf, some of which was not. The Gaiman and VandeMeer and etc. on the “to be read” shelf will still be there next March.)


10% of the population is hardly “a handful” - 10% of the general population is said to be gay; is that so insignificant that we should stop worrying about what they think?

(N.B. using “they” not as an intentional distancing mechanism, but because I am not gay, and don’t think @albill is.)

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Nah, I’m a straight white male working in tech. Talk about the easy setting of life.

I’m saying that we shouldn’t cater our arguments to winning over “dudes who want to argue on the Internet” as they aren’t ever going to be allies here, are personally affronted by the idea of privilege, and just looking for a fight. We should be going after the “non-asshole, undecided but basically decent human beings” contingent, who just haven’t really reflected on it or, shock of shocks, don’t actually know anyone who isn’t white so the issues around race just aren’t part of their daily lives.

I know people in the midwest (among other places) that are all “I think there is a black guy at my work somewhere” and that’s their entire experience of non-white folks outside of popular media. These are the same folks that often were very anti-gay marriage until gay folks made it clear that they were everywhere and, yeah, you actually do know gay people. At that point, a lot of folks mellowed out. Suddenly, it was about whether their cousin Bob could get married, etc.


If you are completely unwilling to engage in the meta-discussion about the phenomena which folks are using “white privilege” to signify and your only engagement in an ongoing argument about the use of those two words (or just “privilege”) and keep insisting we debate that term, rather than the actual issue, yeah, people are going to shout folks down and assume a lack of intellectual honesty or integrity from those folks. “Oh, I’d love to discuss this thing but first we must argue about how I don’t like this term and solve my (white) issues with it before I’m willing to discuss the actual problems around racism.” Uhm, no.


Only if that’s where those folks already want to go instead of dealing with the actual topic.

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That’s a big “if”, because that’s not at all what I am saying. I am only responding to the torrent of posts about how people who don’t agree with the term are complicit with the phenomena.

And conveniently, people ignore where I did above engage in discussing the phenomena, and how I personally address it in daily life. Because those who aren’t arguing for or against the use of the term seemed to be asking: “Yeah, but what can we actually do about it.” It’s probably another unpopular opinion that people will complain about also.


“You’re” confusing how people use the word “you” again. I wasn’t talking about “you” personally.

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I would much much much rather argue about what approaches are workable for treating people more fairly and giving everyone a more equal opportunity, than play the who-is-more-privileged game. There are no winners in that game.

I didn’t choose to be born. I didn’t sign up for any of this shit. But talking about what we can do about it together, sure.


I feel like I’m going to get jumped on like an article posted by Mark, but I thought that the Jacobin article had a hugely valid point that people are choosing to ignore.

If this thread didn’t exist, the 1% would have to invent it. I have never seen anything so effective at getting people to self-segregate along gender and skin colour lines than this “privilege” meme, and as far as I know, it doesn’t cost the Kochs anything.

Instead of co-ordinating against the tiny elite who have actual power and a vast percentage of the planet’s wealth, and demanding their fair share from the table, people have been persuaded to argue about the crumbs, and the nuances on the latest edition of “Postmodern Semiotics in Sokalian Crumb theory”.

I mean, it used to take racism, nationalism and all those things to divide us from one another. But now we’re so sophisticated, we just…


I answered those questions (perhaps not to your satisfaction). Should we branch this conversation?

I’m not ignoring it. I’ve argued that it’s wrong, repeatedly. That’s quite different from ignoring it.

EDIT: Also, in most of my other online haunts, that Jacobin article by Connor Kilpatrick is being strongly praised, and my position is distinctly in the minority. That’s part of why I’m taking it seriously.

Most of these oppositions take this form

person1.- White privilege = The unexamined advantages white people have over people of color given the same social and economic conditions. (My crude attempt a a pithy definition, for this example)
Person 2.- Privilege means =, but I’ve never had any advantages, therefore your argument is invalid.

Pointing out that white privilege as a concept is being dismissed by narrowing down the definition of half the words and refusing to accept how idiomatic turns of phrase are helpful in describing real life situations is not the same as ignoring an argument made against white privilege as a concept.

If you care to make that argument, do so, i have not come across anybody that does that yet.

The social phenomenon, I don’t care if we all agree to change white privilege to a brand new word like “bulterfink”, I’ve latched on to the one which seems to be getting some traction.

I wasn’t clear enough in my reply, I meant that people who get hung up on the word privilege and or take offense at its use do so because they resist the truth in the argument. It is a derail.

Not opposed to this in principle. But why must you insist that if we bring black people two steps forward must we also, and as a precondition, bring white people forward one step as well. Black people will still be several steps back.

Now this may not be your meaning, Just pointing out that in the context of this conversation, asking things to be fair for everybody is to miss the point of it.

Agreed. However, I do think that exposing how deep racism is embedded in todays culture (And this is worldwide) goes a long way to doing something about it.
A lot of people think they are not racist, are not racist, hope that racism ends and still uncritically participate in the system that allows discrimination to continue.
I believe that accepting the idea of white privilege allows you to view not the racism in your heart and mind but the way its been enshrined in systems, culture and traditions.

I also believe that white privilege is a bit clumsy, but its also widely accepted and that makes it useful to talk about somehting that has gone unacknowledged for too long.


Unsurprisingly, I’m asking boing boing, the folks who make us do that. Sorry that was too complex for you to figure out.

Yeah, I bet the folks in charge read 450+ comments into a long thread. Good luck with that. You might want to try using an @ symbol and invoking some account names (if that isn’t too complex for you).

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I like that a lot. Discrimination will never truly end, but self reflection is a good starting point IMO.

I promise no dog piling… But come on. A feature request in a racially charged thread? @codinghorror has documented ways for changes to the platform.

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Discrimination is a perfectly good idea. What I think the problem is is that people discriminate based upon bogus criteria. My experience is the about 80% or more of most people’s “thinking” in social situations is based upon simply using their eyes. As a consequence, what they notice about people tends to be superficialities of their appearance. But for actual social interaction, factors such as skin tone, breasts, clothing style, etc tend to not be relevant to anything. People who are taught to learn mostly with their ears and to think about what they hear are likely to be less gullible and have much more involved criteria for evaluating and categorizing people. Based perhaps on their courtesy, knowledge, creativity, etc.


Hrm. I lived in the south for a long time and I’ve certainly got a bias that I have to work around against people with a southern accent.

And there’s certainly still prejudice against people who “sound black.”

I wouldn’t discount humanity’s ability to be shitty based around any of the five senses.


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