Whiteness and You … and Me, Too

Cite: New York Times

by baldilocks

I’m going to try to read this whole thing without stabbing my eyes out.

A taste:

The most important and consequential thing that sociologists have discovered about whiteness—having white skin and/or being identified as white—is that it is perceived as the normal or default race in the U.S. Though the nation is racially diverse and most are aware of that, anyone who is not white is specially coded through language in a way that marks their race or ethnicity, while white people are not treated this way. “European American” or “Caucasian American” are not common phrases, but African American, Asian American, Indian American, Mexican American, etc., are. It’s also common practice among white people to only specifically state the race of a person they came into contact with if that person is not white. Sociologists recognize that the way we speak about people signals that white people are “normal” Americans, while everyone else is a different kind of American that requires additional explanation.

For anyone who is not white, that additional language and what it signifies is often forced upon and expected of them, whereas for white people, because we are seen as the norm, ethnicity is optional. It is something that we can access if we want to, and use as social or cultural capital. But, it is not required of a white American, for example, to embrace and identify with her British, Irish, Scottish, French, and Canadian heritage. It is rare that she will be asked to explain where she or her parents are from in that special way that really means, “What are you?” Her whiteness casts her as normal, as expected, and as inherently American.

We see the “normal” nature of whiteness in film and television too, in which most main characters are white, and in the case where a show or film prominently features actors of color, it is considered a “Black” or “Hispanic” cultural product. Film and television that primarily features white people is “normal” film and television that is thought to appeal to the mainstream; those that feature actors of color in lead roles and casts composed predominantly of people of color are considered niche works that exist outside of that mainstream. The race of the cast members marks the work as “different.” (TV show creators Shonda Rhimes, Jenji Kohan, Mindy Kaling, and Aziz Ansari are contributing to a shift in the racial television landscape, but their shows are exceptions, not the norm.)

Fact is, I agree with this. But is it really that big of a deal?

And what I hate about the dust-up and uproar about “white supremacy” and “white privilege” is that the dust ups and uproars reek of the very things they hate.

If you, citizen of good faith, think that each individual is equal in the sight of God, then that’s great. The overreaction, however, to anything remotely critical or other-ing of any black person is problematic and is, frankly fake. It’s a cover for the true feelings of those who wage war against White “Supremacy/Privilege”: that whites are superior to non-whites and especially to blacks. To them, the only way to counteract it is to, basically, lay down and die. Or, at the very least, to refrain from reproducing.

(Psst! Here’s something else: the overreaction to actual white supremacism smells bad, too.)

How else do I know that the war is fake? The overreaction happens only when black liberals/leftists/Democrats are criticized. But let someone call, say, me, a “sell-out n-word” and none of the Warriors Against Whiteness could give a rat’s. I see you, Anti-Whiteness Warriors!

Ah, well. Let’s read. Let me know if there’s a surprise ending.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Report from Louisiana: Back to School

Hold a kind thought for teachers in the next few weeks as we head back to school. In our district, we start tomorrow – two days of motivational and procedural in-service training (again) and then kids mid-week.

This will be year 24 for me and I’m pretty in-serviced out, if you know what I mean, and I’m still stinging from a really vicious and nasty election held in the spring in which a teacher pay raise was soundly defeated. Even though we are a top-performing district, we are still the lowest paid and that is clearly not likely to change. Nobody wants to raise any kind of taxes to support technology upgrades or pay teachers, and so our district is now hemorrhaging teachers to neighboring districts who pay 7k a year more.
At any rate, I’m still salty about it. It was pretty ugly and teachers were branded socialists and communists for wanting more money.

That being said, I’m still looking forward to the new school year and new students. It is hard to let go of my summer and those lazy mornings sleeping past 5:00 a.m., but the adjustment comes pretty quickly. In a week or two the routine will be established. Before you know it fall football is on the schedule and then the evenings start cooling off. Walmart is already making room for Christmas trees.

If you have school age kids, or even if you don’t, check to see if your local teachers need anything; lots of us have Classroom Wish Lists on Amazon because in most districts teachers purchase most of their own classroom supplies, especially in high poverty districts. I wish I had kept count of the boxes of tissue, the hoards of pens, pencils, and markers that I’ve bought, the dry erase markers and paper clips. When a new teacher walks into her classroom, more often than not, the only thing provided is furniture and students.

Most of us are pretty good people. Most of us are not acting inappropriately with the students and lots of us disagree with Common Core and scripted curriculum, but we do our dead level best to educate and care for your kids while they’re in our care in spite of government idiocracy.

Here’s to year twenty-four! Wish me luck.

Some Mass Shooting Thoughts Under the Fedora

I’m not a big fan of publishing manifesto of killers. The last thing a society that pushes fame and notoriety above all needs to do is give people desperate to feel important a platform. Alas in an instant information age where the value of clicks overwhelm all else, there is zero chance that such sober restraint would take place.

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As said manifesto has been put out there two things jumped out at me right away. The first was the declaration that the we are destroying the world environmentally. For this fellow’s entire life he has been sold a bill of goods that the world had five, ten fifteen, 25 years left before we’re all doomed. There’s nothing like convincing people they have no future and nothing to lose to get them to do something horribly stupid and/or horribly wrong.

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the 2nd thing of note to me was his conscious choice of a target where people were unarmed and his suggestion of others to do the same. Gun free zone like “drug free zones” are only as free of such things as those willing to follow rules make them and the people most willing to follow rules are not the ones people need protection from. Those who keep insisting on maintaining “gun free zones” are simply managing game preserves for killers.

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We don’t have a lot of details on the 2nd shooting spree in Ohio other than it was fortunate that police were in the area and thus were able to respond in about a minute, yet there were still multiple fatalities and over a dozen wounded. Now I don’t blame the police they can only do what they can when they get there and they did their job well. If anything illustrates the need for people to be able to carry it’s this situation. Police can only react when they get there, people already on the scene can react at once.

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Finally I want people ( other than potential Democrat candidates for office who I selfishly encourage to keep spouting nonsense about gun and bullet control throughout the election season ) who are arguing for more Gun control to consider something. Until the campaign against so called “Saturday night specials” guns were ubiquitous everywhere, high schools had gun clubs and shooting teams. Being armed was very common, young people had guns, old people had guns in fact my mother regularly carried a gun.

Yet it is only in recent memory that we have seen these kind of mass shootings on a regular basis, particularly from young people. People who as Stacy McCain put it:

“are succumbing to despair and rage, believing their lives are worthless, without meaning or purpose. Seeing no hope for their own future as individuals, they project their nihilistic sense of doom onto society at large, and resort to a sick “blaze of glory” fantasy”

Stacy McCain Two Mass Shootings in 14 hours. Thoughts on the Gamification of Terror

So that raises a rather obvious question:

If GUNS are the problem, why were we not seeing shootings like this regularly in my youth? What is the cultural difference a cultural difference which has taken two generations to completely work it’s way through society through film, TV and our schools that has so changed the population that might cause our youth to have such a callous attitude toward the value of life, not only their own but of others?