Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Find a Person of Color Who is Willing to Hold You Accountable for Addressing Privilege...

Given my last piece about white privilege boot camp, this news item (circulating around the Right-wing echo chamber and noise machine) seems particularly well-timed.

I am in the problem-identifying, theory-building, and empiricism business. I am not an anti-racism activist. I can reject such titles because those in the Black Freedom Struggle died and suffered to give me such a space as to not have to continuously ponder such existential matters on a continual basis.

Call me a free rider if you so choose. But getting up, breathing, and navigating American society as a working class black guy is more than enough quotidian day-to-day resistance for me.

As I have written about elsewhere, I am also deeply suspicious of the social justice exercises which offer the "privileged" an opportunity to be the Other in a weak version of performance art or live action roleplaying. There are limits to empathy and understanding. I will leave bridging those gaps to the professionals.

And then there are suggestions about how to confront white privilege such as the following, taken from a handout supposedly given to Wisconsin area high school students who are interested in working on these issues:
Wear a white wristband as a reminder about your privilege, and as a personal commitment to explain why you wear the wristband.

Set aside sections of the day to critically examine how privilege is working.

Put a note on your mirror or computer screen as a reminder to think about privilege.

Make a daily list of the ways privilege played out, and steps taken or not taken to address privilege.

Find a person of color who is willing to hold you accountable for addressing privilege.
Some of these examples are simply trite, symbolic gestures common to an age of illusion and spectacle where the pseudo-event is the new realm of the real--what is a mediated reality which is taken to be a true and actual thing. 

I have too many things to worry about in a given day to now have to take on the responsibility for shepherding and nurturing white folks on their anti-racism journey. Too many people of color have died doing that over the centuries already. As I often suggest, white folks ought to get their own houses in order regarding these matters--history offers more than a few role-models for them to choose from.


Adam H said...

I don't know CD, you might want to get on this. If you could put together the appropriate HR pipeline, this could be a highly profitable endeavor. With the rest of public education being bottled up into the for-profit model, I'm sure diversity training could do with a bit of shaking up.

Adam H said...

*Sorry, "privilege accountability counseling", not "diversity training"

chauncey devega said...

No joke. Lots of money to be made. It could be a whole positive psychology diversity training deal. You could be brought on as a consultant.

Wavenstein said...

"Find a person of color who is willing to hold you accountable for addressing privilege."

Even in the white so called "activist" mind, they still can't help but channel us into a magical negro role in order to help guide them into some psuedo progressive plane of existence. How insulting

CNu said...

goddessglory done retired from the privilege accountability bidnis...., http://goddessglory.blogspot.com

Buddy H said...

Quick anecdote relating to my "privilege wakeup call." As a small child, I loved to color and draw with my crayolas. One of the crayons was called "flesh" (sort of a light-medium beige) and I never gave it a thought, as it more or less matched my own flesh (I'm southern Italian, so a bit darker, but it matched the blonde kids in my school). Fast forward to 1984. I'm in college, studying graphic art. Black guy next to me. We're talking and working on a project, and I picked up a marker and referred to it as "flesh color." He quickly pointed out that it wasn't HIS flesh color. It blew my mind, how I had internalized "flesh" colored crayons, markers and band-aids without question. Ever since then, I've been more and more aware that 90% of what I was taught and exposed to was bullshit.

Invisible Man said...


You are asking a lot. How many white people have any real serious connections to Black people?

chauncey devega said...

I ain't got time to bleed...to quote Jessie the Body in Predator.

chauncey devega said...

Aren't those little moments the ones that really open our eyes?

Invisible Man said...

Jessie the Body was one of the most underrated and entertaining governors in the past ten years!

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