“To paraphrase Mad Men: “Not every little girl gets to do what they want. The world could not support that many ballerinas… or Ivy League graduates.” My advice to Suzy, Abigail, and every other white girl who didn’t get into their first choice of college this year is to keep your rejection out of the public eye and do what every other kid does when they go off to school in the fall: give it the ol’ college try. Seriously, make the most of the environment around you, and if you really don’t like it? Again, keep the Wall Street Journal out of it; have an amazing first year and apply for transfer. And do it while understanding that the group of Black, Native, and Asian, and Latina freshman hanging out on a Harvard quad had nothing to do with you not getting in in the first place. That was your own comparative mediocrity.”—To (All) the White Girls Who Didn’t Get Into The College Of Their Dreams via, Racialicious; A response to Suzy Lee Weiss’ “To (All) the Colleges That Rejected Me,” WSJ op-ed.
“There's a comforting-to-white-people fiction about racism and racial inequality in the United States today: They're caused by a small, recalcitrant group who cling to their egregiously inaccurate beliefs in the moral, intellectual and economic superiority of white people. The reality: racism and racial inequality aren't just supported by old ideas, unfounded group esteem or intentional efforts to mistreat others, said Nancy DiTomaso, author of the new book, The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality Without Racism. They're also based on privilege, she said -- how it is shared, how opportunities are hoarded and how most white Americans think their career and economic advantages have been entirely earned, not passed down or parceled out. The way that whites, often unconsciously, hoard and distribute advantage inside their almost all white networks of family and friends is one of the driving reasons that in February just 6.8 percent of white workers remained unemployed while 13.8 percent of black workers and 9.6 percent of Hispanic workers were unable to find jobs, DiTomaso said DiTomaso concludes, based on her research, that most white Americans engage, at least a few times per year, in the activities that foster inequality. While they may not deliberately discriminate against black and other non-white job seekers, they take actions that make it more likely that white people will be employed -- without thinking that what they're doing amounts to discrimination. "The vast majority assumed everyone has the same opportunities, and they just somehow tried harder, were smarter," DiTomaso said of those she interviewed. "Not seeing how whites help other whites as the primary way that inequality gets reproduced today is very helpful. It's easy on the mind." So white Americans tell a neighbor's son about a job, hire a friend's daughter, carry the resume of a friend (or, for that matter, a friend's boyfriend's sister) into the boss's office, recommend an old school mate or co-worker for an unadvertised opening, or just say great things about that job applicant whom they happen to know. But since most Americans, white and black, live virtually segregated lives, and since advantages, privileges and economic progress have already accrued in favor of whites, the additional advantages that flow from this help go almost exclusively to whites, DiTomaso said. DiTomaso's work does confirm that networks -- not just the kind you build over awkward conversations, finger foods and watered-down cocktails but the kind you're born into -- matter, Austin said. It also points to just how different forms of inequality feed one another. Family-and-friends segregation feeds job and income inequality. That in turn feeds neighborhood and school segregation. That then leaves some kids less likely to receive a quality education and escape from the cycle, he said. It's not that black workers don't attempt the same sort of job assists within their own networks, said Deirdre Royster, an economic sociologist at New York University and author of Race and the Invisible Hand: How White Networks Exclude Black Men From Blue Collar Jobs. African Americans ask neighbors, significant others, the significant others of neighbors, relatives and friends about open jobs, too. But since black unemployment rates were far higher than white rates before, during and after the recession, the number of people in a typical black social network who are in a position to help is far more limited. According to Royster, there's an additional twist: When blacks are aware of a job, they describe the job, the boss, the company and its preferences and needs. Then they follow up with a warning. "They give the person looking for a job all sorts of information and then they say, 'But don't tell them I sent you,'" said Royster. Black workers are aware of something that researchers are still trying to explain: White bosses often worry, lack of statistical evidence aside, that black workers are more likely to sue them or band together in the workplace and try to change things, Royster said. That seems all the more likely if the black workers already know one another, she said. And many white hiring managers still assume, consciously or unconsciously, that black workers bring undesirable workplace habits and qualities, Royster said.”—Janell Ross, “Black Unemployment Driven By White America’s Favors To Friends,” Huff Post Black Voices 3/29/13
- White People: Oh I LOVE Black music! *turns on jazz, blues rock, Tupac album*
- White People: Oh man! I love Black fashion! *wears timbs, nikes, urban streetwear*
- White People: Oh man. I love Black women/men! *get ass injections, tan skin, frizz out hair, plump lips, smangs black men*
- White People: Oh man I LOVE Soul Food! *eat at Sylvia's, Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles*
- White People: Oh I love Black Culture! *attend hip hop shows and parties, worships Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna*
- White People: ....Ugh. I cant stand Black people. They're so lazy and dirty. All on welfare. They are disgusting.
- Black People: ...............................
“A few days ago, I was having lunch with a good friend who is Korean-American, and she told me that when she heard about the bombings at the Boston Marathon—the marathon itself being something she knew nothing about and immediately associated with white people—she found that she had a hard time…well, caring. I’m sure that sounds shocking to many people. But it didn't shock me. Because I was having the same feelings myself. I really noticed it a few months back, during coverage of the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings. As news outlet after news outlet flashed photograph after photograph of mostly white children across TV screens and computer screens alike, I felt something I hadn’t remembered ever feeling before upon hearing of the brutal murder of children: I felt numb. Not numb in the way that people in shock feel numb. Not numb because of the great weight of what had happened. This was a different kind of numbness. I couldn’t help but think about Trayvon Martin. He wasn’t an elementary school kid when he was shot and killed by a racist with a gun, but he was just a 17-year-old boy, unarmed, walking down the street with a bag of Skittles. I thought of countless other Black youth who have been murdered by crazed gunmen with badges and police uniforms in the last few years. I also thought about the hundreds of brown children in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan who have been killed by US forces on the ground and by drone strikes. I thought about how many times I didn’t see any of their faces, smiling and innocent, splashed across the TV or the internet for days and weeks on end. I thought about how white people I know weren’t posting links to stories about those children and what had happened to them. That they weren’t writing Facebook statuses about how unbearable those kids’ deaths were. And, seeing pictures of those little blonde children—because the blonde ones are always featured most prominently—I felt numb.”—
I am incredibly glad that McKenzie wrote about this erosion of empathy because I started feeling numb a long time ago. Aurora, Sandy Hook, Boston — I feel a scary blankness when I talk about all of these events.
“The entire premise of the song, right from its very title, is garbage. There is no such thing as "accidental" racism. On an individual level, a White person may unintentionally say or do something racist, because they are cloaked in the ignorance of unexamined privilege. But that doesn't make it accidental. That is the result of an entire culture carefully built around structural racism that privileges Whiteness and viciously defends White people's ability to coast through life never having to become familiar with any perspectives or lived experiences but their own. That is no goddamn accident. It is also the result of individual White people choosing to lazily bask in the luxury of their racial privilege, despite the fact there are all kinds of opportunities to question the white supremacist narratives with which we are all socialized. The luxury to know those narratives are bullshit is not one that it shared by people of color, and it is a choice to start the lifelong journey toward understanding (and not trading on) one's Whit privilege, or to sit in the comfortable easy chair of unexamined privilege. That, too, is no goddamn accident. It is a choice. It isn't a fucking accident for a White man to put on a shirt with a Confederate flag. It isn't a fucking accident for a White man to say he's "got a lot to learn BUT." It isn't a fucking accident for a White man to whine about "walkin' on eggshells" and "fightin' over yesterday," as if racism is a thing of the past and not something active and present in the here and now. It isn't a fucking accident for a White man to say "we're still paying for mistakes / that a bunch of folks made long before we came," as if White Southerners' lingering discomfort with slave history is the same fucking thing as the structural effects of slavery that inform the lives of Black USians' to this very day. It isn't a fucking accident to compare the Confederate flag to a do-rag or saggy drawers. All of this is thoughtfully conceived and deliberate bullshit. Marginalized people don't owe privileged people non-judgment and tolerance and indulgence of their gross redefinition of symbols of oppression in exchange for basic decency. The inherent power imbalance between privilege and marginalization makes the entire idea of an "equal exchange" of good will reprehensibly absurd. If White people want Black people to trust us, then we should make ourselves fucking trustworthy. That means releasing our stranglehold on a lot of symbols and images and words and practices with racist origins, even if we like them a lot—boo fucking hoo!—instead of trying to argue selective context. Especially when there are always plenty of White folks who still value the embedded racism in those things. Brad Paisley, you are literally expecting Black people to be able to read White people's minds and magically discern whether this one White guy is wearing a Confederate flag just because he has Southern Pride, ahem, or because he hates the fuck outta Black people. That wildly unreasonable expectation is no accident, either.”—Melissa McEwan, “Whoooooooooops I’m A Racist!”, Shakesville 4/9/13
“However, our dialogue about twerking reflects a larger system of cultural appropriation, commodification, and sometimes exploitation that has resulted in the birth of “ratchet culture.” Ratchet has become the umbrella term for all things associated with the linguistic, stylistic, and cultural practices, witnessed or otherwise, of poor people; specifically poor people of color, and more specifically poor women of color. (Yes, ratchet is a very feminine gendered term. See: Ratchet Girl Anthem). Remember when people who weren’t actually from the ghetto started to use the word “ghetto” to describe everything from their friend’s booty to a broken blender (real life examples)? The same phenomenon is happening with ratchet, even for those who do not use the word itself. It is super easy to borrow from the experiences of others as a way to be “fun,” or stretch boundaries on what is “acceptable,” without any acknowledgement of context or framework. But being ratchet is only cool when you do it for fun, not if those are valid practices from your lived experiences. We watch shows like Basketball Wives, Real Housewives (of all the cities), and Bad Girls Club where women act ratchet as hell all the time. But they do so in designer clothes and at 5-star restaurants, and this paradox acts as a buffer for the ratchet that is the real reason for the shows’ success. Internet sensations like Sweet Brown are the perfect example of how “ratchet culture” is appropriated and commodified. “Aint nobody got time for that” has made its way to memes all over the internet and is used by folks from different backgrounds as punchlines and witty retorts. Sweet Brown has been contracted to sell everything from real estate to dental services. We witnessed the same trend with Antoine Dodson. It is becoming more and more common for folks to use “ratchet” to sell their not-at-all-ratchet products. On an (inter)personal level, ratchet works to simultaneously police and defy gender, class, sexuality, and respectability norms. Folks with certain privilege are willing and able to float in and out of ratchet at will. The term ratchet became popular for me when I was still in undergrad about three years ago. All of us young, black scholars (constantly trying to justify the black side of the coin or the scholar side, as if they are polar opposites) were enamored with this term as a way to distinguish when we were or were not on the “right side” of the respectability table. When it was time to party we would say, “Let’s get ratchet!” But when I would go check my mail with my hair still wrapped in a scarf or was overheard talking to my friends from “back home” in our local dialect, I was just ratchet. Another example of the fluidity of ratchet was playing double dutch on the quad. At our predominantly white institution we were presenting a form of community building and fellowship that fell outside the boundaries of “appropriate” and “acceptable.” But our privilege as collegiate scholars allowed us to present ourselves in that way without the same push back we may have received if we were just black girls playing double dutch in a predominantly white community park. I know that for me and many of my friends, the use of the term ratchet was a constant navigation of our identities as young, sexual, inner city hood Chicago-raised, black girls and privileged, college educated, Western women. I can’t stress enough that pop culture trends like twerking, “aint nobody got time for that,” or even just using the word ratchet to define the wild things that happened at last night’s party are all rooted in someone’s lived experience. Sometimes it’s your lived experience, but if it’s not, please stop for a moment to consider your privilege and what role you may be playing in the appropriation of someone else’s exploitation.”—Let’s get ratchet! Check your privilege at the door
By SESALI BOWEN