western privilege

so this shit going down in Ferguson is exactly what i was talking about when i was talking about the limits of the “western privilege” framework where Black people are concerned

our “citizenship” our “statehood” our “cultural belonging” fundamentally means nothing, is conditional as fuck

the cohesion of the national body depends on our exclusion FROM these things

we are the justification for the suspension of law and limitless state violence in the name of “safety” and “national security”

the FBI’s most wanted terrorist is a Black American woman

when you tell me i am nothing like my people, you do not compliment me. i am not ashamed of my heritage, i am not trying to run away from it.

when you tell me i am nothing like other girls, you do not compliment me. i am not ashamed of my gender. i love my sisters, i am proud of the way they survive and blossom in a hostile place.

when you tell me i am nothing like other immigrants, you do not compliment me. i am not ashamed of the fact that i dream in two tongues.

when you tell me i am nothing like my parents, you do not compliment me. their english is not broken - it was never whole; they never sang in this land of yours. they do not become through your tongue.

when you tell me i am nothing like other feminists, you do not compliment me. their voices are what lets me speak. 

do not compliment me by disparaging. do not compliment me by assimilating me. do not compliment me by erasing my history. do not compliment me at all, if in order to do that you have to make others seem small. 

Many of us travel, so we claim, to broaden our understanding of the lives of others. That was certainly my line, before the dengue. But it wasn’t until this moment that I started to really accept how abbreviated my perspective had been, how convenient and self-excusing. In a decade of swooping in and out of impoverished regions, I’d been exposed to crushing poverty. And I’d frowned, offered sympathy and a few coins, then moved along and forgot.

Enthralled by foreign cultures, often disdaining the shortcomings of my own, I’d never fully digested what it must be like to live and raise a family in a place where health, that most precious possession of all, is so easily compromised. A place where something so ubiquitous as a bloodthirsty mosquito momentarily settled on a bare patch of skin can leave you hospitalized and weeping for home.
  • *racial double standard exists for centuries in the western world, privileging whiteness above all other racial designations in most cases of political/economic/cultural benefits, impacting real power dynamics into the present day*
  • activist: *acknowledges the historical power imbalance and that social circumstances are different across groups on account of this long-standing power imbalance*
  • some reactionary shit: Who is the REAL bigot here??? You're parading a racial double standard against whiteness! Just treat everybody the same exact way like humanity just arrived from a decontextualized vacuum of relative equality! People calling my remarks racist is the real systemic racism here.

I’ve noticed that there’s been a lot of posts about Western privilege and different racial and social constructs around the world lately. I’ve also noticed blatant attempts from *that* side to shoot each and every one of them down.

Now, I’m not sure if I’m entirely on board with calling Western privilege a “privilege” per se, but I definitely think that being from the US or any other country regarded as ~first world~ does come with many benefits and advantages, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Black Americans (on Tumblr and otherwise) really need to realize and accept that for all the shit we have to put up with in the US, on a global scale, we really are at the top of the hierarchy when it comes to African and Afro-diasporic peoples elsewhere in the world. And before someone comes in with, “but but antiblackness tho!!!11” NO ONE IS SAYING BLACK AMERICANS DON’T EXPERIENCE ANTI-BLACK RACISM WHEN ABROAD. What people are trying to point out is that it should be approached differently from the US brand of anti-black racism.

I’ve been seeing posts and discussions about anti-blackness in other countries lately that are problematic as all hell. Not only are people attempting to make these things all about ourselves, but they also demonstrate a refusal to look at these situation(s) critically and just flatten it all into being merely “anti-black.” The thing about that is, a black American in the Dominican Republic probably would not suffer the same mistreatment as a Haitian. A black American in Israel likely would not face the same difficulties as an Eritrean or Sudanese refugee. A black American in the UK would probably be given preferential treatment over a West Indian or a Nigerian.

See, it’s stuff like this which is the reason why so many posts about US-centrism and differing dynamics of oppression are being made. When it comes to global issues, we ARE on the outside looking in. There are voices that actually go through these issues that so many of us speak over. Stop speaking over them. Listen to them. Stop making it about ourselves. Empathize with them. There’s some serious madness on this website that really needs to be stopped.

iamjackskinkyhair  asked:

Hey Chuks! I know you've spoken about it on the podcast and on other posts but I still don't quite grasp how black people from western countries have western privilege. Is it in context of respectability politics? Is it possible to have western privilege with it being limited by global anti-blackness?

Hi there,

I get this ask every few months, and I’ve responded to it in parts here and there and this post by a Racialicious writer also touched on it, but I will do my best to summarize and contextualize what I have been saying on this point.

First and foremost, this is not a conversation about just black people or other POC in the First World but its one centered around citizenship and living at the heart of empire. We live in a world of intersecting spheres of domination, imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, as bell hooks has coined, and within this framework we can be both victim and victimizer, oppressor and oppressed depending on the respective aspect of our identity. Just as I am marginalized as someone who is black and gay, I also have clear privileges and am an oppressor as someone who is cis, male, college educated and upper middle class. And just so, I benefit tremendously as someone who is American living at the heart of American empire with its cultural, political, military and economic domination and exploitation of the Third World.

Many hostile responses that I’ve gotten to these discussions of “Western privilege” have failed to fully account for the impact of imperialism and how that figures into our lives as oppressed people in the First World. Yes, white people get the lion’s share of the “spoils” of America and other First World country’s continued exploitation of the Third World. And yes, it is obtuse to conflate the experience and benefits of “Western privilege” of an African refugee in the U.S, for example, here fleeing wars spurred by Western imperialist aggression with that of a white boy from the suburbs. That is not only obtuse, it is offensive. There are tremendous amounts of nuance based on the intersections of a person’s other identities and “Western privilege” is not something which people benefit from equally at all.

Living in Taiwan for a year, however, and engaging as part of the destructive imperialist machine of the Fulbright program and the “teach English abroad“ movement really changed my understanding of how privilege operates in non-"Western” contexts especially. I was regularly told that I was not a “real” American because I wasn’t white, but at the same time I was living and working in a Taiwanese aboriginal village where people were being forced to learn English. I still had an American passport which gave me an inordinate amount of power and access that was not reciprocal with the Taiwanese communities I lived and worked in. During my year in Taiwan, I met a Taiwanese guy who was doing his Taiwanese military service at a detention center in Yilan County, and he said that all of the people in the center were SE Asians and Africans. The thought of an American ending up there was basically unthinkable. I also learned more about the history of US imperialism in Asian countries and how to this day black military service people who commit human rights abuses have also been protected by the US military industrial complex along with their white peers.

The most important experience for me, though, came when I went to mainland China for 2 weeks in the midst of my time in Taiwan. While there, I was struck by the fact that many Africans I met told me that they would pretend to be African American to try and access marginally better treatment. China is a hostile and incredibly antiblack environment where my Americanness was regularly denied and where people explicitly told me that black people weren’t human, so I was initially totally confounded and confused by this. How would being “American” be a benefit to them at all since they were still black?

This is where the cultural capital and more soft aspects of Western privilege (in non-First World contexts) really became shockingly apparent to me. I am an African immigrant in the US but as someone who is American, I was treated differently and clearly better than other Africans in China and Taiwan. Yes, my Americanness was denied in many spaces, and yes there are intersections with class that come into play, but that does not capture the full picture at all, otherwise these Africans would clearly not be trying to play themselves off specifically as Americans. Moreover, I had protections with my American passport from harassment which they regularly endure from immigration officials in China. Even when I went back to Taiwan this summer, I was (to my knowledge) the only person on my flight from the US temporarily stopped at the border and questioned about “where I was from,” clearly because I was the only black person on the flight. When I said that I was American, I was waved through. I wonder, though, if I had been traveling with my Nigerian passport instead of my American one, how different my experience at that moment may have been, since Africans are regularly profiled as drug dealers and illegal immigrants in China and Taiwan (to a lesser extent) and are harrassed constantly by immigration officials to the point that African migrants have rioted in Guangzhou against the abuse. Whether “pretending to be African American” worked or not for the Africans I met is another question, but they clearly knew and understood that being African did not carry the same status as someone who was American or European, even if the person in all of those instances was black. 

All of this changed how I saw and understood privilege and the effects of imperialism especially. I honestly think it can be hard for people to wrap their heads around this, especially if they haven’t had the same privilege to travel as I have. What we see here in this country is the evisceration of black communities and families by our racist, fascist, virulently antiblack police state. We see the militarization and ongoing human rights abuses in Ferguson and in poor black communities across this country. We see black people being killed by extrajudicial violence ever 28 hours with no recourse from the American “justice system.” This is genocidal violence and it has been ongoing for centuries in this country and against black communities across the globe. And none of what I’m saying erases that. As I’ve said before white privilege and Western privilege are not the same thing, even though many aspects of them are tied together

Time after time, when I’ve talked about this people latch onto and are triggered by the use of the word “privilege,” and I get why that is in the face of what I described above. I think it’s because when we-and I’ve been guilty of this as well-discuss or throw out ideas like “Western privilege” for First World POC without bracketing it appropriately, the nuance gets completely lost. The understanding that we all benefit from living at the heart of American empire (or other First World countries) at the expense of Third World people and the indigenous people whose land we are also occupying, but that these benefits are not flatly distributed based on our, race, class and immigration status is lost. The understanding that the imperialist capitalist violence being enacted by First World countries across the globe can both benefit and hurt us as non-white inhabitants of these empires is subsumed. And the understanding that none of this discussion of our privileges accrued as inhabitants of various empires erases our everyday realities of state-sanctioned white supremacist, patriachal capitalist violence. All of that nuance can and does get lost without the appropriate bracketing, and I’ve failed to do this several times as well. Because it’s important to reiterate that the ways in which I experience Western privilege as a black immigrant who was born in the U.S. is different from how some white boy, who enjoys the compound effects of white privilege and Western privilege (which reinforce one another), does, which is different from how many of my African friends who are seeking asylum in the U.S. and have pending immigration status experience it. 

All of this bracketing is crucial because we do not experience or engage with the spoils of empire in the same way at all, and this cuts deeply along racial and class lines, immigration status and indigenous/non-indigenous lines as well. 

But as I learned from traveling and living in Taiwan especially, there is not a flat “black experience” by a long shot and there are massive power differentials shaped by the effects of imperialism. That is something which it is also harmful and destructive to deny if we are to build solidarity with people in the Third World. This is also not ahistorical by a long shot. Cultivating solidarity with the Third World is something which black American leaders have been at the forefront of for decades. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. both talked at length about the destruction wrought by imperialism, because they knew that a liberatory politic which did not account for imperialism would never set any of us free. It is also why Angela Davis traveled to African countries to learn about and engage with feminist leaders and thinkers there. There has been an ongoing exchange of ideas and the building of solidarity for decades now, and part of this requires that we not only understand how our struggles are shared, but we also understand the ways in which our experiences are not the same. And acknowledging the various privileges we do have as black (and non-black POC) people in First World countries-which again are nuanced and not flat-especially over other black people in the Third World is a key part of that puzzle. Because unless we dismantle all of the interlocking parts of bell hook’s coined “imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy,” including imperialism, while also acknowledging all of the nuance which I’ve tried to describe in short above, none of us will ever be free. 

Related Posts:

+ My Experiences with Antiblackness in Taiwan and China

+ Teaching English Abroad (Reflection)

+ Being Black in China & Taiwan (Audio Post)

Hmmm. Just thinking about it but I think one major failure of the social justice discourse here is the conflation of white privilege with Western privilege, when describing global power. White privilege certainly reinforces Western privilege and some aspects overlap, but they are not synonymous. 

Because this effectively leads to a removal of the culpability of non-white people who still do benefit from a Westernised upbringing and therefore, access much better treatment then people from the country of our ancestors. Or the culpability of non-white people who are citizens of wealthy developed countries in benefiting from the global inequality engendered by European colonialism via modern economic exploitation. It’s disingenuous for the culpability of US foreign policy to be framed as being something only white Americans are responsible for where American soldiers and Americans in the highest level of the US government are not solely white Americans, even if the majority of them are. Sure, let’s recognise how US imperialism has its origins in white supremacy, but it’s wrong to suggest that US imperialism today is an enterprise where only white Americans participate and benefit from it.

This is because I see a lot of international issues getting framed as just “white privilege” when I’d say it’s more accurately described as Western privilege at work. To pretend that millions of us, who have in some ways, donned the trappings of our colonial masters because of our Westernised upbringing, have not become “part of the empire” is a lazy abdication of our responsibility in benefiting from structures of inequality. We may not benefit as much as people of European-origin, but we do benefit and often at the expense of people outside the Western or developed world.

Personal Account on Western Privilege and being a Black Westerner

Ima just say this first. I don’t want any white, “missing the point”-ass person to read this and think this means something about how black and white people are equally wrong or equally gnarly, or about how white and non-white Westerners are somehow on the same page/team/whatever you want to call it. Keep in mind who created the racially and ethnically hierarchal idea of the “West” that the world revolves around today. Keep in mind that the only reason Western privilege exists is because of the racial hierarchies that are first constructed within Western nations for the rest of the world to learn and adhere to.

Keep reading

What I actually think about being Black in the West

Here is my uneducated and maybe even wrong view on Black Americans vs Western privilege.
But write in a hope that we can talk about how we shit on each other. After all, I have refuse any allegiances other than to All Black people and other oppressed groups.
So these are my current views as a Black American with Western privilege but also who has the wounds that come from being a Black American.
I can’t speak for all of us, this is me. And I am open to agreements and disagreement.

1: I believe in Western privilege, that I have it and other Blacks in the west have it.
2: at the same time I can believe because it is my experience that other Blacks shit on Black Americans ( and vice verse)
3: I think Black Americans are ignorant to their Western privilege ,should own it, help to dismantle it.
4: I think Blacks who not are slave descendants have no clue how they fuck with Blacks who are and should stop. It is not just whites who treat us like we are still slaves. ( here I obvious referring to more than Black Americans, all slave descendents).
5: I don’t think people embodied privileges in the same way. One can not talk about Black Western priviliege and ignore that our privilege was gain through forced immigration ( for those with enslaved ancestors). That Western same privilege is our history of culture trauma including to lose of home, lose of history, genocide, culture. it also comes with the baggage of being told we are not Americans or African, we are told in fact we have no citizenship to anywhere ( this is not to say that we don’t have the privillege afford by American citizenship). ( I am not neglecting the cost of slavery to Africa here).
6: people who travel to Africa from West are using one of the means of their Western privilege . Yes, people die to come to the west when many of us can travel freely while not ever have to worry about fled our country ( though we might be worry about it sometimes)
7: Documented immigrants of the USA regardless of color instantly benefit from the oppression of Black slaves, their descendents, and Native Americans. ( undocumented people lack privileges of citizens obviously). ( documented immigrants lack privileges afford to native born but still benefit from the above).
8: I don’t think Black American have it worst than all Blacks. But I have a right to speak about my oppressions.

*** I know I understand more about Black American experience than Westen privilege which is part of that privilege.
**** this post is not directed towards anyone. I decided to write this because I was not clear about my comment before Western privilege which actually wasn’t about Western privilege.
**** I guess the point of this post is that talking about Western privilege is not anti-Black American and talking about being treated shitty as a Black American does not mean denying Western privilege.

haollen  asked:

hi i've been having a dilemma regarding the whole 'white saviour complex'. i'm a chinese girl and i'm going to be going on a trip to a more rural part of guangzhou to build houses, so would this fall under the same sort of principles as the 'white saviour complex'?

If you are Chinese but residing in a Western country then yes. That’s why I usually say the Western/white-savior industrial complex so as to not exonnerate Western POC from perpetuating the same bullshit. Sure the exploitative power dynamics are compounded for white folks with their Western and white privilege, but as a Western POC the geopolitical power and resources of our home countries makes it exploitative as well. If you are from China and live there yourself, it would be different but, depending on your socioeconomic background could have an exploitative class element to it (like rich kids in the US going to New Orleans’s 9th Ward to “build houses” for the poor black people).

I think the question we should always ask ourselves in these instances is why are you being sent to these areas to build houses? What skillset do you have that makes you more fit for the job than local people who actually know the community and its resources, needs, etc? Why is money that could instead be funneled into paying locals (who need the money) to do the job or teaching them the necessary skills so that they can do that job (and then have that skillset for other jobs down the line)…. why is all of that money instead being used to provide an “experience” for you in their poor rural community? Why do a lot of these projects end up getting pushback from the local communities who are serving as a backdrop and an experience for you? Why are these communities being disempowered by projects like this rather than empowered through collaboration?

I talked with a lovely follower of mine who worked in the international development space for years and she explained to me how these are all just such important questions that need to be answered because the vast majority of international projects period, and especially ones like the one you described are just incredibly exploitative at the end of the day. The poor community and the people therein serve as a backdrop for the rich person/Westerner to find “transformation” through the bodies of these poor POC being patronized by their generous “assistance” since these people clearly can’t help themselves. And it’s all just so wrong.

“White women think its feminist to go work a job and hire another woman to do the domestic labour and raise the children“

Westerners keep using “white” as a shorthand for “white, Western and economically privileged” and it’s sometimes hard to reconcile with my own reality. I mean I’ve met dozens if not hundreds of EE white women who did  domestic labour for West Europeans and Americans (I did it, both of my sisters did it, my mother is currently doing it) and not a single one who hired another woman to do it.

anonymous asked:

I think that twitter post illustrates something very prevalent in this site. If you're black, you are at a disadvantage inside the US. However, being American you are at an advantage in world politics. Being black doesn't change that. You pick a white person from Greece. They have no power in terms of world politics. Did they send people to mess with people in middle east? They didn't. All Americans have something to say on the Taliban and other messes they created. Being POC doesn't change that

Yes, that’s exactly it. Of course, the flawed nature of US politics means that the average citizen’s demands are often not listened to, BUT, the fact that they can at least vote to decide who will be the American president and are legally allowed to lobby Congress makes a difference. That’s a whole lot more power than non-US citizens. I mean, I can tell you a Romney or McCain presidency would have been different from an Obama one. A Gore presidency would have been very different from what Bush enacted. Who the US president is has a major influence on global politics. That’s why the world pays so much attention to the US presidential election- the American president is someone who can affect our lives more drastically than even our own leaders.

Privilege on a global scale is complex and multifaceted.

1. No doubt there is a power differential between black and white Americans. Black people face severe discrimination inside the US as Ferguson, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner show.

2. But citizenship adds ANOTHER power differential when a black American travels outside the US or is a US soldier. In that context, in some ways they are “part” of the “empire”.

So for example, a black person from the US CAN face antiblackness from a white person from Greece. But racial privilege is just ONE measure of the various privileges (class, citizenship etc) that determine where we sit on the global power structure. Obama himself can face antiblackness, but it does not change the fact that as a US citizen who became president, he exercises enormous power and privilege. Not to mention privilege fluctuates and different aspects of one’s identities get emphasised more depending on where you are. I would think the American-ness of even a black, Asian, Hispanic or Native American US soldier would be emphasised more in say, Iraq or Afghanistan. People wouldn’t first think “oh a “person of colour” like us” but notice the uniform and think “AMERICAN soldier.” In that context, they represent a manifestation of American global power and inhabit the position of one with institutional power.

This Is The Only Thing I'll Say On This

I have finally figured out why the conversations around “western privilege” don’t sit well with me.

They remind me of all the white people that want to tell me that Black people don’t have it bad where I live. These are the same people that want me to spend over $1,000 of my hard earned money to go oversees to visit other poor brown faces YET they look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them to drive under the overpass of the Crescent City Connection.

You wanna see privilege?

Ride around on Calliope between O'Keefe and Camp and you’ll experience your own privilege. Actually, hit any major corner in NOLA and you’ll see people asking for money and hoping that some business won’t turn them away when they go to wash up in the sink.

So no. I don’t need to go anywhere else to experience my privilege. I see it every day on my way to work and my startling reality (this is what this past month has shown me) is that while I’m fortunate enough to have a job, I’m really less than one paycheck away from being back on the street.

And that’s real.

Turning the page

I remember just few weeks back how 95% of the content of my blog was about African American issues. The quasi totality of my heroes still are. From the BPP to obviously Omowale and Kwame Ture. I wonder what those men who truly strived for unity would say today. I was a fool enough to believe that we were all alike and truly united. Then one day I had the audacity to ask for a little respect and dignity for my people and myself and those I thought were my ‘brothers of struggle’ shun me. But it felt great. It felt like a big slap in the face bringing me back to reality. Even if the wake up call may be painful on the moment, it is absolutely indispensable for me to step further towards what I ultimately aim for i.e. independence, agency, autonomy and freedom. 

As long as I was willing to play my position of lapdog, everything was fantastic. Now I am supposedly developing an 'anti-AA’ rhetoric i.e. refusing to have some imperialist, self-centred, ethnocentric and arrogant fucks shit on my African face. I have shown dedication, support and concern which obviously was never reciprocated since apparently unity requires me to negate myself as an African and a complex and deep human being with a separate and autonomic identity, struggle and history. Few of them are aware that my continent is neither a country nor a monolith and none can put my country on a map. 

I have always wondered how it could have happened that freed slaves who went through slavery, its pain, destruction and exploitation did impose it on their 'brothers’ in Liberia and now I perfectly understand how such thing can happen. The western oppressed feels just as entitled to us as whiteness; in the same way, same fashion, on the same scale. The white supremacist hegemony expands all over the planet but its empire is the west, hence making my oppressor a westerner either with a white face or with a brown one.

I am moving on!

Western Muslims are so privileged in a sense that we can speak out against atrocities that happen in the name of Islam or in so-called Islamic countries without fear of persecution or arrest and yet we choose not to. Or that even when we do, it is only to deflect criticisms and portray Islam in a positive light. I’m not talking about just atrocities that happen under the hands of ISIS but even those that happen in countries like Saudi Arabia. 

I understand that it is difficult to because most often that not, it is used against us. Islamophobes will talk about how ~evil Islam is all while vilifying Muslims. It is definitely a lose-lose situation in that sense, especially when they seek to portray Muslims in an orientalist fashion that we’re all “brainwashed” and “backwards”.

Ideologically Islam is used by many in power to either kill people who don’t fit the mould of what it is to be a perfect Muslim (LGBT, women, non-Sunni) or people who are non-Muslims. In the same vain, it used by western politicians to vilify Muslims by creating discriminatory immigration systems, surveiling communities, and even torturing alleged terrorists even when proven innocent. But let’s not deny that Islam is used in quite a regressive manner in places like the Middle East in a far more systemic way.

Islam isn’t inherently bad like Islamophobes love to assert but we cannot deny we have issues amongst our ranks. Like every religion, we have our fair share of people who adhere to the faith both in a progressive manner and a reactionary manner. It is no secret that there are quite a lot of people who agree with a lot of reactionary beliefs even when they say otherwise. Afterall, sheikhs who spew such beliefs are even normalised and are granted TV spots on Islamic channels.

Think about it. When non-Sunni Muslims or religious minorities in general are persecuted or killed, how many people speak out against it? Aside from tokenising non-Sunni Muslims to deflect and say “ISIS kills Muslims, too”, devoid of all context? Perhaps even only speak to justify it? “They deserved it, they were kuffar” Sound familiar? 

I don’t think we must continue to apologise for the actions of extremists but it is our duty to speak up and say it is not okay. It is important to acknowledge the role of western colonialist and imperialist governments in creating these groups and creating divisions, however, even on a rhetorical level, we must challenge these beliefs instead of sweeping them under the carpet. Otherwise, we’ll have blood on our hands and it is on us.

Change cannot occur unless we acknowledge these problems. 

i just feel people shouldn’t conflate white and western privilege together. they often overlap, and whiteness reinforces western privilege the way non-whiteness doesn’t, but it’s not always synonymous. it is entirely possible to be non-white and western (i just have to look at my own family). and to benefit from that- it’s not that we are treated as well as white westerners (hello racism), but we may often be treated comparatively better or have our lives be treated as more valuable than non-white non-westerners from our ancestral countriesso all this about global media coverage and sympathy- it’s also about western power. 


I took a little break from doing work to check out Light Girls (which, like I guessed, was problematic). While watching, a few of the stories tugged at my heartstrings a bit and I had a flashback. 

When I was in middle school, some of my friends were browner than me. My being lighter than them became something to poke fun at. There was some lighthearted name calling and I went along with that because, y'know, it wasn’t a big deal.

What did bother me was something else they’d do. They’d roll up my sleeves and press their thumbs into my forearms to watch the color in my skin temporarily change. They’d press so hard, repeatedly, that my arms were often sore. I’d go home trying not to bump anything with my arms because of the soreness. At that age, when fitting in meant everything, I didn’t know how to tell them it was painful and that it made me uncomfortable. I just let it happen.

I always feared that they lumped my academic success with my complexion too, and I think that bothered me the most. I felt like I had to prove that I really was smart and talented and kind to combat the consensus that I received opportunities primarily due to colorism.

What is troublesome for me in my adulthood about the conversation of lighter skinned Black women is the pretending that guilt isn’t the bulk of what we feel. We over and under-compensate, deal with or rage against things because of guilt, not oppression. And light skinned guilt isn’t the same as white guilt. Light skinned guilt is knowing that you’re perceived as different from the very womb you were born from solely because your mother is browner. It’s knowing that the privilege you never asked for stems from and perpetuates violence against dark skinned people.

A few years ago my godsister’s dad made a joke about us all being on a plantation. My sister’s mother is very fair and so is her brother. She herself is just a bit lighter than me. Her father is dark. 

According to him they would all “be in the house” (he also mentioned that her brother would probably go and pass as white) and I would be in the field like him. My sister argued that I would be in the house too but he wasn’t backing down. When it first came from his mouth, Emerald would be in the field like me, I almost shouted “NO I WOULDN’T,” but I stopped myself. I feel overwhelming guilt every time I recall the level of offense I felt in that moment. Because what is shameful about being in the field? And why is washing dishes more distinguished than picking cotton? There is no “better n*gger.” The guilt we feel lies in the fallacy of the “better n*gger.” That is the way we have learned to survive.

Considering that, maybe I let them nearly bruise my arms because what amused them was a reflection of my own survival. 

My mom told me that when she shows her co-workers pictures of me they’re always surprised. And sometimes when I go to her job the people I meet are in awe when they see me. I notice them all trying to find me in her. They look back and forth and back and forth at us. Too often people can’t find me in my own mother.

I’ve always felt bad about that.

I will always feel bad about that.

signofamotekun replied to your post“”western privilege is white privilege”, Western privilege was created by white people, but many PoC now can ‘enjoy’ this privilege too. Not everybody, not at all, though.

I’m sorry but when you have Black communities that look like warzones and police that occupy those areas, I contest the notion of Western privilege. We are vulnerable to the same media, military and economic exploitations as any colony.

It’s not that we live a privileged life in the US as black people, at all. But when we are abroad we have Western privileges and inhabit a privileged space in that regard, even if we are being oppressed based on our skin color at the same time. That is not to be confused with white people who have both Western and white privilege (with the former reinforcing that latter in these spaces as solutionsbecomeproblems put so well). We inhabit a liminal space which is difficult to dissect, but that’s why a more nuanced analysis is necessary–with “Westernness” bestowing on us some privileges abroad (e.g. diplomatic immunity) rooted in the global power of our countries of origin, but our “blackness” leading to our oppression due to anti-black sentiments. We encounter and live both while abroad as black Westerners. 

I’m still dissecting this, though, so those are just preliminary thoughts. Let me know what you guys think.

it’s like white kids (LIKE ME AT NINETEEN) who start studying buddhism and get to the part about how life is suffering and then end up as pretentious nihilistic pricks because it’s MUCH EASIER (and more western; and more privileged) to radiate distress than it is sit with the complexity that is suffering and fully process its value neutrality 

basically nobody in our society ever does anything 100% because we’re tuned for quick fixes and to always believe that we’re right about things. people halfass their way into the latest fad, read the cliffs notes version, misunderstand that synopsis, and then spread lies about it while being smug. hooray, western culture!