Ijeoma Oluo: “For a white woman who had grown up with only a few magazines of stylized images of blackness to imagine herself into a real-life black identity without any lived black experience, to turn herself into a black history professor without a history degree, to place herself at the forefront of local black society that she had adopted less than a decade earlier, all while seeming to claim to do it better and more authentically than any black person who would dare challenge her—well, it’s the ultimate “you can be anything” success story of white America…
#2: Comedian-actor Dave Chappelle explains racism:
“Things like racism are institutionalized. You might not know any bigots. You feel like ‘Well, I don’t hate Black people so I’m not a racist,’ but you benefit from racism. Just by the merit, the color of your skin. The opportunities that you have, you’re privileged in ways that you might not even realize because you haven’t been deprived of certain things. We need to talk about these things in order for them to change.”
#3: On his blog, Scott Woods Makes Lists, poet Woods posted:
“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes Black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you.
“Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another, and so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe.
“It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”
A new study by Redzo Mujcic and Paul Frijters, two economists at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, have proved that white privilege is real.
The two researchers spearheaded an ambitious experiment to see how race and privilege play out in everyday life. The researchers tasked 29 young adult riders of white, Asian, Indian, and black descent to board buses with an empty transit card and see whether or not drivers would let them ride for free. Participants were told to say, “I do not have any money, but I need to get to the [XX] station,” with XX station being out of walking distance. After analyzing more than 1,500 social interactions, what the researchers found was astounding.
Asian and white participants were able to ride for free at nearly identical rates (72 percent), but bus drivers often declined the requests of black and Indian passengers. Fifty-one percent of free-ride requests from Indian riders were honored, while requests from black riders were twice as likely as those from whites and Asians to be turned down, with only 36 percent being able to board the bus and ride without paying.
The disparities continued even when the subjects were dressed in business suits or military uniforms, with 67 percent of black and 83 percent of Indian passengers being allowed to ride for free compared with 97 percent of whites. Interestingly, black drivers also opted to give white riders a free pass in larger numbers than black riders (83 percent versus 68 percent), further highlighting the insidiousness of systematic racism and the engrained privilege white people enjoy.
This privilege, or rather white folks’ ability to avoid painful racial macro- and microaggressions, is felt in nearly every sector of society. In the workforce it manifests in employers choosing to interview candidates with “white” names over those with “ethnic” ones. In universities it shows up in schools giving preferential treatment to the children of alumni or donors while refusing to factor in race. And in the justice system, white privilege means African Americans make up 57 percent of the people in state prison for drug offenses, even though blacks and whites use drugs at similar rates and whites sell drugs at higher rates.
“Uiteindelijk is de bottom line van veel racisme in Nederland segregatie. Onbekend maakt onbemind. Nederland heeft een ‘de facto apartheidsstelsel’, zoals beschreven in een rapport van Binnenlandse Zaken (Polarisatie en radicalisering in Nederland 2009, p.53). Maar dát mag je dan weer niet zeggen. Links heeft niks geleerd van het falen van het ‘multiculturalisme’, een beleid dat in de praktijk neerkwam op het jarenlang faciliteren van segregatie. De term ‘racisme’ veroorzaakt kortsluiting bij zowel de linkse als de rechtse kerk. ‘Als je dat woord gebruikt, reproduceer je het’, is onder meer de kritiek. Alsof het vanzelf zal verdwijnen als we het woord niet gebruiken. De afgelopen tien jaar werd ‘het benoemen van problemen’ een mantra in Nederland. Maar zodra je racisme wilde benoemen, werd je met wezenloze frames monddood gemaakt. Van ‘je neemt een slachtofferrol aan’ tot ‘racisme is een Amerikaans concept’. Het is in Nederland hoog tijd voor een scherp, breed en inhoudelijk racismedebat. Laten we de Nederlanders die de discussie over het institutioneel racisme in dit land willen aangaan daarom niet langer wegzetten als ‘zeurpieten’ of ‘radicalen’.” (Zihni Özdil in De Volkskrant dd 29 november 2013)
…”So answering [designer James] Auger’s pressing question — “What is this obsession with class systems?” —, well: we are obsessed with class systems because we can’t help it. Because, in contrast to most of the practitioners in the field of [Speculative and Critical Design], we do not have the privilege of not thinking about issues of race, class and gender.