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White privilege

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madashell's picture
madashell
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Nov 9 2006 14:43
atlemk wrote:
How many times do I have to say this: I am not fucking framing racism or sexism in terms of "privilege as benefit". That has been ascribed to me by you and revol68.

Or alternatively, I'm saying that framing it in terms of privilege (which you are), you are implying a benefit, deliberately or not.

But don't let what I said get in the way of how you reply to my posts, that'd just be silly.

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Khawaga
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Nov 9 2006 15:12
Quote:
Or alternatively, I'm saying that framing it in terms of privilege (which you are), you are implying a benefit, deliberately or not.

You are implying benefit, I am not. Seems like this all boils down to semantics.

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Khawaga
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Nov 9 2006 15:43
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previlege generally does imply benefit and of course it is rather beneficial not to get pulled over by the police cause of your skin tone, but there is a world of difference between acknowledging this than constructing a over egged theory of "White Skin Previlege" etc as many groups in the states have done.

Taking it a bit far if you imply that I am constructing a theory. I know very little about US theories about this. My views stems from practical political organizing and just everyday experience.

Privilege in the sense I have used it here is negative "freedom". "Freedom to" do whatever you want to do regardles of race, class and gender is the state that we should be at. Obviously we're not today.

It also depends on whether you define benefit in the short or the long run. In the short run it could be beneficial, but in the long run it is not. It is part and parcel of capitalist oppression in general, i.e. it is not beneficial.

Listen, I actually agree with you. For some reason you're reading too much into my posts and ascribe views to me that I do not have.

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Tacks
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Nov 9 2006 17:42

the police seem to agree with this kind of thing.
As do the SWP.

You could not make this up.
As long as black colleagues think “white” they are accepted, but as soon as they step out of line and display their “blackness” in their views, then they are sidelined and a more accepting black colleague is located to “consult”.

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madashell
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Nov 9 2006 17:52
atlemk wrote:
It also depends on whether you define benefit in the short or the long run. In the short run it could be beneficial, but in the long run it is not. It is part and parcel of capitalist oppression in general, i.e. it is not beneficial.

In what circumstances, whether short term, at an individual level or whatever, could white, working class people benefit from racism?

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Tacks
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Nov 9 2006 17:56
madashell wrote:
atlemk wrote:
It also depends on whether you define benefit in the short or the long run. In the short run it could be beneficial, but in the long run it is not. It is part and parcel of capitalist oppression in general, i.e. it is not beneficial.

In what circumstances, whether short term, at an individual level or whatever, could white, working class people benefit from racism?

acceptance in a workplace or social group
ease of access to certain resources/potentially preferential...

no wait, thats not a benefit its just not suffering from racism.

kinell madas ur right conmrade! smile

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syndicalistcat
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Nov 10 2006 07:05

I don't regularly look at indymedia and don't see
too much left media. If they made Brad Will's death
the center of their reportage about the struggle in
Oaxaca, that was a misplaced priority. The coverage
should have focused on the mass struggle, and all the
people who have been killed since June. A teacher --
a member of the striking teachers union -- was also killed
the same day as Brad Will. They could have had a separate
bio on Will along with the main story, focusing on the
people's struggle. Failing to do that will be perceived by
some people as "Look at how they're focusing on the one
white guy killed." The fact that Will was an indymedia
journalist known to people in New York doesn't warrant
making him the center of the story. I have found it difficult to talk to Europeans about racism in the USA. There is a lack of understanding. The country was founded as a white settler state. Displacement and genocide against the
American Indians and enslavement of Africans was justified by racist theories. These were popularized in the culture of the white settler population. There were attacks on this
by radical abolitionists in the mid-19th century, and the
Knights of Labor was built on the basis of an anti-capitalist vision ("cooperative commonwealth") and broad class solidarity, of the unskilled and skilled, native born and immigrants, women and men, black and white. But the Knights were smashed by the anti-radical hysteria after the Haymarket events in 1886. The American Federation of Labor was built on a narrow, pragmatic basis of using skills and other labor market advantages to secure better situations for minorities of workers who were usually white males. The AFL "job trusts" were often built around ethnic and family connections as far as access to jobs. Keeping others out meant you had access to the better paying jobs. This tended to entrench racism among white workers because it meant a material advantage. Of course, the advantages that white working class folks get from white supremacy -- a pattern of advantages and disadvantages -- is minor compared to the huge gains that could be made if the working class were united. If it were united, it would be possible to shift the balance of power to the advantage of the working class. But in the USA the defeats of the working class left since the late 19th century have tended to diminish or such out any consciousness or hope of a life beyond capitalism. The idea that the working class potentially has the power to fundamentally shift things to its advantage is very faw away from the thinking of most working class people. That's because of the relative lack of success or visibility of expressions of collective working class power. In this situation, people look to holding on to little niches they've found for themselves. Actually the white working class in the USA has been severely damanged by white racism. That's because white supremacy is the main reason why there is no universal health care system in the USA, why wages have been falling for 30 years, and all the other effects of working class weakness. So it's a question of short-term advantage that you see as accessible to you versus a bigger long-term gain that you don't see as accessible to you.

redtwister
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Nov 10 2006 19:58
madashell wrote:
OliverTwister wrote:
It's a privilege not to be treated like shit?

Apparently so, and we should all feel very, very bad about it.

Um, screw you both??

Its a privilege to have access to social promotion, job promotions, better wages, better working conditions, nicer homes, nicer neighborhoods, better schools, more credit, lower prices, better quality goods, the greater protection of the law, more lenient treatment by the law, having your mode of speech, choice of name and clothing as socially the norm, etc. Do you want me to enumerate and quantify all this for you? I can.

Those are material privileges that are for more accessible to people racialized as white. It doesn't have to be realized by all whites, just enough to validate it and to change the behaviour of whites into class traitors. Just enough to make whites identify as whites rather than workers. Just enough to make whites identify as middle class. Just enough to make black workers feel that they can only trust middle class blacks because white workers are more white than worker.

Chris

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Nov 10 2006 21:12
redtwister wrote:
Um, screw you both??

Its a privilege to have access to social promotion, job promotions, better wages, better working conditions, nicer homes, nicer neighborhoods, better schools, more credit, lower prices, better quality goods, the greater protection of the law, more lenient treatment by the law, having your mode of speech, choice of name and clothing as socially the norm, etc.

This reminds me of the famous Chris Rock sketch "n!gg%rs vs black people" which is apt in a couple of ways.

To paraphrase: [the state] always wants credit for some shit they is supposed to do... 'oh i give you a fair trial'. 'My citizens get free education'. You're supposed to you dumb motherfucker!

redtwister
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Nov 10 2006 21:16
revol68 wrote:
the other problem is that you could start taking this shit into everything. Why not talk about first world previlege? What about the previlege of those of us who aren't short sighted. The previlege of being able to have access to clean drinking water, or not being massacared in a genocide.

Why is this crazy? You think you don't have privileges? Does it make your revolutionary heart stop beating, to fear that you might not be as oppressed as someone else? Are you worried it'll make you a Blairite?

Inequality, privilege, etc. exist all over this society. it permeates everything. But being short-sighted does not convey or take away objective social power. Race, gender, living in the "first world", etc. convey material and social advantages, they are relations of power that short-circuit class and redirect it into cross-class forms of solidarity.

In fact, if you equated short-sighted and Jew, wouldn't it be fair of me to call you an anti-Semite? I think so. But apparently it is ok to equate racism (with the attendant history of slavery, lynching, violence, specifically directed at those racialized as black) and short-sightedness. You offend the eye and the brain.

All of those relations of power require an oppressor side and an oppressed side. Oppression requires those who oppress as much as those who are oppressed. And oppression requires people to have some reason to oppress. If it is not your job, if you are not paid, if you are not forced to do it, then you must get some benefit from it. it must put you in a position of privilege, otherwise what is the motive?

Does that mean some of those who oppress racially are not exploited? Does that mean that some of those who exploit are not oppressed? Do you want to tell me that black preachers in the South during the Civil Rights movement, definitely a part of the black middle class and with class privileges, were not oppressed and in danger? Is a Kluxer working in a steel mill not exploited?

The difference with class is that class cuts across all relations, it is just that cut. It is the division that cannot be healed, that disrupts all other identities. White supremacy, patriarchy, heterosexism, etc. are ways of suppressing class, but they can't get rid of it.

Class struggle is not making everyone try to equalize their oppression. It is not having the same basis for saying No, it is the unity of saying No.

I don't need to deny that someone else is more exploited or oppressed to want to destroy capital. I don't need to pretend that I am at the bottom of the bottom to hate this world and want to change it.

Its the same mentality that wants to find a biological basis for communism/anarchism in sociobiology. Its like your own desire to do away with this society is not enough for some reason.

As I am not a revolutionary to free other people, I don't need to pretend that there are no benefits to being white, male and straight in this society from a social power point of view. It cannot get me my dignity. Pretending I don't have any privileges will lead to acting guilty or raging mad as hell that "I too am exploited and oppresed, and just as much as you!"

The problem is what one does in recognizing this.

If you start acting "for other people", you are a reactionary social worker. If you believe you can change that by your own personal actions, you end up a voluntarist wanker or guilty liberl putz, as if the objective power relation was something we could end.

The problem is to recongize and support the No! of everyone and to consistently insist that regardlessof who is more or less oppressed, the enemy is capital and its abolition is our only way out. The proletariat is the mass that acts against capital, not some sociological mass.

So in thinking about this, what oppression are whites, as whites, fighting? What oppression, as men, are men fighting? What oppression, as heterosexuals, are heterosexuals fighting?

All you privilege denyers ought to explain to me how these end up being anything other than the position of power?

Oh, you mix them in with class very craftily. But someone fighting for "white workers' rights" fights for white people's rights because our class is universal and non-racial. So what are white workers' rights?

I know what black worker' rights would be: equal access to exploitation, not being more exploited, not being more oppressed. It is automatically a struggle against oppression and exploitation. White people's rights can only be a struggle for more power, more privilege. It has no other content.

I mean, I think that you dislike the word privilege is disningenuous, even dishonest. It is a desire to avoid reality, to generate a fiction in which you and a black Sudanese woman are equal. After all, if you are unequal, then relative to her you have more, i.e. you have some social power or material benfits. hey guess what those are: privileges. "But no, we can't use that word. It makes us out to be bourgeois." Maybe the objection itself stains your argument.

Chris

redtwister
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Nov 10 2006 21:20
Tacks wrote:
redtwister wrote:
Um, screw you both??

Its a privilege to have access to social promotion, job promotions, better wages, better working conditions, nicer homes, nicer neighborhoods, better schools, more credit, lower prices, better quality goods, the greater protection of the law, more lenient treatment by the law, having your mode of speech, choice of name and clothing as socially the norm, etc.

This reminds me of the famous Chris Rock sketch "n!gg%rs vs black people" which is apt in a couple of ways.

To paraphrase: [the state] always wants credit for some shit they is supposed to do... 'oh i give you a fair trial'. 'My citizens get free education'. You're supposed to you dumb motherfucker!

that should have read: "Its a privilege to have qualitatively and racially mediated access to..."

Not sure what your quote means though.

Chris

redtwister
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Nov 10 2006 21:25

I admit to having avoided this because I think that my article says most of what i want to say and what I still largely think, but I want to inject a few issues.

1) The critique of white supremacy and racism as white supremacy, white-skin privilege, etc. is not a middle class critique. It comes from the communist workers' movement in the U.S.: CLR James and Facing Reality, Radical America, Sojouner Truth Organization, the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement, the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Its history was one where black workers had been told by the Left for generations to "Unite and Fight" and "We have nothing special to offer the black worker". Racism was something black people suffered from, and by extension, was their problem. These groups rejected the idea that the problem was merely the oppression of black people by the state and businesses. Their experience was that when it came to treatment in the workplace (hiring, firing, promotion, skilled jobs), access to union positions and support, access to credit, access to housing, ability to move freely throughout public space, etc., white workers did as much to enforce black oppression as the government and businesses. Workers who identified with the white race were at best unreliable allies in the class struggle and often were directly reactionary as soon as the race card was played.

So the cops were known to be anti-black, but the cops mostly came from white working class families and the white workers were generally buddies with the cops.

The union was supposed to represent the workers, but black workers were excluded from the apparatus, their grievances were not filed or ignored, and the contract was not applied equally. Even more so, as seniority was the key, and blacks were only brought into the factories much later than whites, and seniority is often departmental, it was almost impossible to get seniority over someone white.

The unions backed management on privileging white workers for promotions into cleaner, more skilled, higher paying jobs. Yeah, that's a privilege they got only because they were racialized as white. Did every white worker get promoted? No, dumbasses. But only people racialized as white has that privilege.

Hell, since all the bosses were white, white men could marry the daughter of a boss, potentially, and become a boss by marriage. Or a white female worker could marry a white male boss and bingo, Boss Lady. That did not, and largely still does not, exist as a real possibility for black workers, though it is more possible today since the black middle and upper classes are much, much larger and almost fully integrated into corporate America.

White people could expect (as whites, but wrongly as workers, which short-circuits the whole white thing and why it can be defeated) to be protected by the police of attacked by a black person. They could expect to win in court. They could expect to be able to freely attack and even murder a black person, even a publicly high profile black person (or a white person who was a race taitor), and expect to win in court. Grabbing a white woman's ass, esp in the South, was a one-way ticket to death, much less attacking a white man of any class.

White workers opposed equal access to promotions, skilled jobs, etc. because it meant competition they did not want to face. It was race treason to demand equal rights for a black man.

This was/is true in a way, as a daily experience, that I do not think too many of you understand. You don't realize, apparently, that suburbia was not just a creation of capital to atomize workers and separate community from workplace and to get them to buy more commodities, like cars, washers and dryers, etc. It was welcomed by white workers who wanted to escape blacks moving into the cities, as well. it was white workers improving their lives on capital's terms with more money and the assertion of suburbia and consumption as a white worker's right, if he behaved. And capital, as long as it could guarantee profits rising faster than wages, was willing to go along with that as it bought social peace.

So when you talk about there being no such thing as white privilege because workers racialized as white are exploited, that is a load of horse shit. White supremacy is a cross-class alliance, a form of class treason, which involves the passive and active defense of unequal treatment according to race, in return for the promise of better treatment and often enough realized to make that promise carry weight, especially the privileges that do not lower profits.

When black people tried to move into white working class neighborhoods and had their houses firebombed, and their families attacked, it was workers doing it. Workers who identified as white, and not as workers.

2) White and working class are antagonistic terms. There is no revolutionary white working class or worker. White is a social position of power. Workers in Europe were not white before slavery and the “discovery” of "black" people. Irish who came to the U.S. in the 1830's and 40's were not white. They were Irish and had mostly been radically anti-slavery.

White is something this society makes you. Unlike Race Traitor, I do not believe it is an individual choice, as they voluntaristically put it. but to choose to be ignorant of it and deny it is a white privilege. Black people who ignore it traditionally ended up dead or in jail (again, things have changed since the 1960's or even 1970's or even the 1980's.)

There is no such thing as a revolutionary white anything. A black person is killed by a group of whites, and black people march in that white neighborhood (which happened in Chicago in the early 90's), it is an anti-racist protest. If the situation is reversed, its a Klan rally. And for good reason. Because the power is not equal.

So when you many of you uncritically refer to yourselves as white, IMO you have been interpellated by white supremacy. White supremacy called and you called back. I have been racialized as white, but the white race can go fuck itself. I am a communist, which is to say, a race traitor.

And all of this goes fine with there being some white people as badly off or even worse off than many black people. White supremacy works on the promise of personal, individual gain through having white skin. It is predicated on the complete hostility to collective class organization. White workers on strike lose their privileges, they are told they lose them, they get "blacked", and the promise to return their status, to cut them a deal as fellow whites, has long, long been a part of breaking working class radicalization.

Workers racialized as white are still workers, are still oppressed and exploited, are still at the bottom and have more in common with all other workers than with any bourgeois. The difference is that workers racialized as white don't see it that way, which is very fucking effective. They see blacks or whoever as bigger enemies than capital, not as fellow workers.

Or in the more sophisticated cases, the worker racialized as white try to reduce everything to economics. I'm exloited, you're exploited, we're all workers, "brother". “We have the same interests. And they are mine, which don’t include your demands for equal rights, the right to fuck my daughter or sister, to move into my neighborhood, etc.” And then they are surprised when black workers tell them to go fuck themselves with a 2x4 even though they blocked equal access to promotions, beat up their kids for coming into their neighborhoods, burned down houses where black people moved in, beat them up if they show up in their bar, sided with the cops when Rodney King was brutalized, etc.

Capital is a total social relation and the stupid asshole who argues that privilege has to mean always, everywhere having it better, is truly, willfully stupid.

Does this mean that our class benefits from this? As workers, every worker gets screwed because it guarantees every worker remaining a worker and capital remaining in power. Period.

It also means that capital can lower overall wages, working conditions, etc. in a region or country or internationally. As such, white supremacy gives to individuals, promises to larger groups, but fucks the class as a whole. You think Race Traitor does not recognize that? Their problem is that they think this is “un-American”, which is nationalist, stupid bullshit.

The political side of this for non-whites is that white skin privilege politics went along with the recognition that working class autonomous action against racism was radical class struggle, not divisive, as the white cunts call it. First action against oppression, and then worry about unity. If black workers take action, they have no reason to wait for white workers to get on board. That will never happen. That was the premise of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. First we fight, and then if some workers racialized as white get their shit together and want to work with us as revolutionary workers, want to wage the fight, great. Its pretty fucking simple.

Also, there was no basis for black workers to trust anyone white. There was almost no historical or personal experience that would validate such a trust. Whites just figured they were trustworthy, when the basis of their self-valuation was exactly the petty bourgeois, law-abiding miserableness that was at the core of their whiteness.

So black workers asserted their right to separate organizations without whites. Everyone knew there were still black rats, black petty bourgeois, scabs, etc. They weren't fools. But they had no basis for trusting white anyone. Even with this, they worked with any whites who were willing to work with them, just not to form a common organization.

That only breaks class unity when white workers and 'radicals' whine and complain that they can't be in that organization, that they have a right to be in any space, but in effect that blacks do not have the same right.

These were some of the real problems faced by black workers, black communist workers, that led them, and some white communists, to articulate a position that relative to the 1960's, was a radical leap forward.

Is it anachronistic today? Sort of. That is a big question. White supremacy is growing in the US. George Bush's base is as racist and white supremacist as it gets.

BUT they have black elements who share their homophobia, individualism, etc. on a scale that did not exist 40 years ago. There is an integrated black bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie. Black professionals work for corporations that would have been "white" back in the day, but which escape such a description today. Class differentiation among black people has definitely deepened. Black nationalism is nothing more than an ad campaign for BET and FUBU or bean pies.

The situation is not the same, but it is still a hell of a lot easier and safer to be white in the U.S. than black. Whiteness has not gone away, but it is different. it is "white victim" racism. it is vindictive, whining, "I've lost most of my privileges", sorry for itself, revanchist white supremacy. It is still radically anti-working class, anti-collectivist, anti-communist (more so than ever before, in fact.) And it feels justified in vilifying black people who are now supposedly equal and who have failed on bourgeois society's terms, at least as they see it.

Chris

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Tacks
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Nov 10 2006 21:29
redtwister wrote:
Not sure what your quote means though.

You are SUPPOSED to get all that shit!

If i kicked you in the nads, i wouldn't then have priviliged access to not-having-a-blinding-pain-in-the-bollocks.

aswad
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Nov 10 2006 22:42

Part of the contributions in this thread are just appalling. The more so since this thread happens to be situated in the part of the forum titled "Thought". I beg yours?

I wonder if the same blokes going on here dared to walk into a meeting of anarchas and tell them there was no such thing as male privilege as the only benefit it gave a man was to get an effin' job and be exploited while this is something women were spared.

Seems to tell a lot that the inability of realizing white male privilege is also combined with an inability to spell 'privilege' correctly. My stout comrades of the negating faction will probably want to tell me the mis-spilling was only proof of how much they reject being privileged.... Refusing to accept that there is such a privilege means to personally accept its benefits while paying a little lipservice about not wanting them.

I happen to be on a few native American mailing lists. Any stout conservative Repugnican voting ndn there has a far better grasp and analysis of white male privilege than some of the blokes here, calling themselves anarchists.

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Felix Frost
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Nov 11 2006 12:54

Good posts from redtwister as usual. The problem with the Race Traitor crowd isn't that they point out that white people have privileges, but that they reduce this to personal lifestyle choices. And I've never quite figured out just how I'll go about "renouncing my white skin privilege" anyway.

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Nov 11 2006 13:48
aswad wrote:
I wonder if the same blokes going on here dared to walk into a meeting of anarchas and tell them there was no such thing as male privilege as the only benefit it gave a man was to get an effin' job and be exploited while this is something women were spared.

As it happens I do have a lot more time for the concepts of male privilege and patriarchy than for the concepts of white privilege and white supremecy.

Men do benefit from being the 'breadwinner' in their home, not least because it gives them control over the family's finances, it makes them the 'head of the household', that is a clear material privilege that men have, historically, gained from patriarchy. There's no such parallel with racism.

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madashell
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Nov 11 2006 13:59

redtwister, I really don't appreciate the implied accusations of racism in your posts, it's not only innaccurate, it's completely uncalled for.

redtwister wrote:
All of those relations of power require an oppressor side and an oppressed side. Oppression requires those who oppress as much as those who are oppressed. And oppression requires people to have some reason to oppress. If it is not your job, if you are not paid, if you are not forced to do it, then you must get some benefit from it. it must put you in a position of privilege, otherwise what is the motive?

Nobody is denying the existence of that oppression, the argument is over who is doing the opressing and for what purpose, whether it is useful to frame that oppression in terms of 'white privilege'.

Quote:
As I am not a revolutionary to free other people, I don't need to pretend that there are no benefits to being white, male and straight in this society from a social power point of view. It cannot get me my dignity. Pretending I don't have any privileges will lead to acting guilty or raging mad as hell that "I too am exploited and oppresed, and just as much as you!"

Not what I said. I was just saying that the oppression of black people, their lack of access to equal social welfare, their poor treatment by the police and the judicial system, does not equal the privilege of white people.

It's not a zero sum equation. For example, my access to the NHS is not contingent on illegal immigrants being denied the same access. My getting a 'fair' trial is not contingent on a black person being treated more harshly in the same circumstances.

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Tacks
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Nov 11 2006 17:48

well said Madas. I think we have reached the end of this debate - you either read what madashell and others said 2 pages ago or you didn't.

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Nov 11 2006 18:26
Quote:
It's not a zero sum equation. For example, my access to the NHS is not contingent on illegal immigrants being denied the same access. My getting a 'fair' trial is not contingent on a black person being treated more harshly in the same circumstances.

You're missing the point of this. No one here has suggested it is a zero-sum game, which implies that race is experienced uniformly. Read redtwister again you should realize this.

NHS btw is based on universal access to members of the welfare state, so it is a poor example.

Mike Harman
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Nov 11 2006 20:59
redtwister wrote:

Its a privilege to have access to social promotion, job promotions, better wages, better working conditions, nicer homes, nicer neighborhoods, better schools, more credit, lower prices, better quality goods, the greater protection of the law, more lenient treatment by the law, having your mode of speech, choice of name and clothing as socially the norm, etc. Do you want me to enumerate and quantify all this for you? I can.

redtwister, my manager is a black woman and earns three times as much as me. No one on this thread is denying racism, or the inter-relationship of race and class (especially in the US), but that doesn't then equate to privilege.

Mike Harman
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Nov 11 2006 21:14
redtwister wrote:

All of those relations of power require an oppressor side and an oppressed side. Oppression requires those who oppress as much as those who are oppressed. And oppression requires people to have some reason to oppress. If it is not your job, if you are not paid, if you are not forced to do it, then you must get some benefit from it. it must put you in a position of privilege, otherwise what is the motive?
...

I don't need to deny that someone else is more exploited or oppressed to want to destroy capital. I don't need to pretend that I am at the bottom of the bottom to hate this world and want to change it.

I don't think anyone on this thread is doing that. However, to recognise that "other people are more exploited (or oppressed) than you", isn't the same as accepting theories of white skin privilege. To be honest you sound like the parent who tells their kid that they have to lick their plate clean because there's "children starving in Africa", as if there's a direct link between their over and under consumption.

Quote:
I know what black worker' rights would be: equal access to exploitation, not being more exploited, not being more oppressed. It is automatically a struggle against oppression and exploitation.

So when my (also black and female) friend at work got sent on an "empowering black managers" training course - which was according to her a course on how to bullshit mixed with a bit of networking, that's about fighting oppression and exploitation is it? How about the Asian Business Network (for reference here's a speech given by a DTI minister to them http://www.dti.gov.uk/ministers/archived/wilson241198.html). "equal access to exploitation" is about right.

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Nov 12 2006 13:38
Jack wrote:
Tacks wrote:
This reminds me of the famous Chris Rock sketch "n!gg%rs vs black people" which is apt in a couple of ways.

To paraphrase: [the state] always wants credit for some shit they is supposed to do... 'oh i give you a fair trial'. 'My citizens get free education'. You're supposed to you dumb motherfucker!

Isn't that a really right-wing rant about how unemployed black people are scum? confused

Yeah thats the one. Its fucking awesome.

It demonstrates the power of stand up - even though you know he couldn't be more wrong, even though the the audience itself must contain single mothers and ex cons who know he is talking shit, his delivery carries them all with him.

redtwister
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Nov 13 2006 00:43
madashell wrote:
redtwister, I really don't appreciate the implied accusations of racism in your posts, it's not only innaccurate, it's completely uncalled for.

redtwister wrote:
All of those relations of power require an oppressor side and an oppressed side. Oppression requires those who oppress as much as those who are oppressed. And oppression requires people to have some reason to oppress. If it is not your job, if you are not paid, if you are not forced to do it, then you must get some benefit from it. it must put you in a position of privilege, otherwise what is the motive?

Nobody is denying the existence of that oppression, the argument is over who is doing the opressing and for what purpose, whether it is useful to frame that oppression in terms of 'white privilege'.

Quote:
As I am not a revolutionary to free other people, I don't need to pretend that there are no benefits to being white, male and straight in this society from a social power point of view. It cannot get me my dignity. Pretending I don't have any privileges will lead to acting guilty or raging mad as hell that "I too am exploited and oppresed, and just as much as you!"

Not what I said. I was just saying that the oppression of black people, their lack of access to equal social welfare, their poor treatment by the police and the judicial system, does not equal the privilege of white people.

It's not a zero sum equation. For example, my access to the NHS is not contingent on illegal immigrants being denied the same access. My getting a 'fair' trial is not contingent on a black person being treated more harshly in the same circumstances.

I don't pretend to know English race politics particularly well. A fondness for Linton Kwesi Johnson, watching My Beautiful Landrette and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, and some reading doesn't quite cut it.

However, here in the US, which is the experience I can speak to, being white doesn't just get you less harassment or less exploitation. The likelihood of being promoted, of getting a job, of getting a particularly skilled job, of marrying the bosses' kids and getting out of the working class, of getting credit to get a house, of having access to money, power, peace, etc. is so ridiculously racially mediated that frankly to me you sound like a typical white leftist. That doesn't make you an overt racist, just ignorant.

Being white gives you a distinct and clear possibility of getting out of the working class. Of having a home you own. Of living in a safe neighborhood. Of having a life savings to pass on or one to inherit. Of access to a school because you had a father, grandfather or great-grandfather who went there, which since they prolly only started having black students after 1968, wasn't an option for any of the kids I went to school with.

No one denies you a job because you are white, although companies occasionally have a quota to fill. But people are regularly hired and not hired because they are black. And when they get the job, they have to work harder to keep it.

A new study came out, a group did a test sending out the same resumes to all kinds of different job postings, but using "white sounding" names like Jeff, Bret. Brent, etc. and a set using "black sounding" names like Tyrese, Tyrone, Shaniqua, etc. Not surprisingly, the exact same resumes with "black sounding" names were called for interviews about 15% less of the time.

In housing, in researching getting to find housing, callers who identified as white had a 50% better chance of getting to see an apartment for rent than blacks, in Chicago. Or close to it. Nate, I think you worked on that a few years ago. Do you remember the stats? It was quite appalling.

There is a POSITIVE benefit to wealth, income, housing, jobs, promotions, etc. for white people. You can deny it all you like, and you can vote with the Republican proletariat in 2008 too. They hold the same false belief you do.

Being white and being less exploited is directly dependent on blacks (and other non-whites) getting shafted.

That Race Traitor and "white skin privilege" politics takes it in a stupid, anti-communist direction does not make that any less true.

Chris

ps - I don't care if I make it sound like you are a racist. You took it personally, I did not take it personally beyond referring to you as a dumbass, which I reserve the right to as long as you make statements to the effect that while sexism and patriarchy convey positive material benefits, racism does not.

I do not care about what you think you are, but I do care what you say, and from there I sure as hell can't tell the difference between you and the "victimized" white "workers" I work with and live with day in and day out.

redtwister
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Nov 13 2006 01:07
Tacks wrote:
redtwister wrote:
Not sure what your quote means though.

You are SUPPOSED to get all that shit!

If i kicked you in the nads, i wouldn't then have priviliged access to not-having-a-blinding-pain-in-the-bollocks.

Ah. Well, its a bad analogy on your part. It only addresses the less-oppressed and exploited part and chooses to willfully and ignorantly ignore the "material benefits" part.

Rather, if you got elected and were white, no one says "Hey, they elected him and he's white." You're supposed to be white. Its only exceptional if you are black. Or female. Or gay.

If you get promoted, no one claims it was because of affirmative action. If you get promoted over more qualified black people, no one questions it (except the black person who you were promoted over.) If the whole skilled we b press operator department is white and the 27th black person to try to get a position was passed over for a white guy with 1/10 the number of years on the job, no one questions it.

If you get shown homes in all of the neighborhoods you can afford, but the black couple behind you with the same income and credit is shown only the mixed or black neighborhoods, and even a few that are well below their income and credit but which are "black", so that the couple does not even know those other homes in those other neighborhoods are available, no one questions it.

How about we discuss income and wealth? Whites across the board make more money, in every job group. White = better pay. IN a monetary society, I would call that a privilege. White = more wealth because having had access to better pay and better paying jobs and more education, the white working clas as a whole has a much larger household wealth, esp in terms of owning a home and having savings. My grandfather retired as a machinist with about $500,000 in savings n the late 1970's. My uncles, his brothers and brother in law, machinists and electricians, all union workers their whole lives, retired with about the same money. And this was having owned summer cottages, two cars, their own homes, etc. This was the life of the skilled white worker, a condition shared by a decent chunk of the working class, not managers and professionals. Less than 1% of Black workers (themselves only 15% of the US working class) had access to these jobs, but not at those wages often, and as such did not have access to the money and as such did not leave their children and grandchildren tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And none of those are a gentler kick in the balls, Dumbass Jr. They are material benefits that come with being white.

The police show up and assist you because you are white, but shoot you because you are black. That is not just "less of a kick in the balls", that is a completely different relationship with the police, one that is incomparable. If you do get in trouble with the cops, it is because you are a worker and the only thing white is going to is maybe get you off the hook or less brutalized.

White is nothing but a cross-call identity designed to split the working class with a combination of material benefits (privigeles) and ameliorations of oppression, that are designed nonetheless to keep you oppressed and exploited and to make you defend the system by blaming blacks, Mexicans, immigrants, Native Americans, etc.

The fact that you can pretend that being white or native-born or first-world conveys no material benefits, as well as ameliorating some of the oppression and exploitation (and even meaning that you simply do not have to face that level of oppression AT ALL) means that you in effect apologize for it. A left workerist apology, but an apology no less.

Chris

redtwister
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Nov 13 2006 01:19
Mike Harman wrote:
redtwister wrote:

Its a privilege to have access to social promotion, job promotions, better wages, better working conditions, nicer homes, nicer neighborhoods, better schools, more credit, lower prices, better quality goods, the greater protection of the law, more lenient treatment by the law, having your mode of speech, choice of name and clothing as socially the norm, etc. Do you want me to enumerate and quantify all this for you? I can.

redtwister, my manager is a black woman and earns three times as much as me. No one on this thread is denying racism, or the inter-relationship of race and class (especially in the US), but that doesn't then equate to privilege.

Firstly, so fucking what? You have a black female boss. Finally. Chances are, you father, grandfather, greatgrandfather, etc did not and could not have imagined such a thing until recently. Hell, chances are, if you lived in the US, your grandfather, greatgrandfather, and mine, and madashell's and newyaka's, etc. would have gone on strike before accepting a black boss. Lots of them did in WWII in the US.

Secondly, I said that some of this has changed since the 1960's. A small black middle class exists that is almost wholly integrated into the corporate world. The independent black middle class is nearly gone. So whites are bound to have black managers at some point.

Thirdly, the majority of blacks will never get near you in social status. The white middle class in the US (professionals, independent business owners, managers) comprise over 20% of the population. of that 20%, less than 1/10th of it is Black, despite being over 12% of the total population.

Just because YOU have a black boss does not mean that social privilege is no longer WHITE. Just because a couple white people got passed over for jobs to fulfill affirmative actions quotas does not mean that getting a isn't way, way, WAY easier for someone white.

Unless you believe that because your boss is a woman, there is no longer a material advantage to being a man? Would you like to go there? Shall we compound one error with another?

The ugly underside of white liberal guilt is reactionary white self-pity and victimization and equally reactionary workerist denial that whiteness conveys an advantage in this society.

The result of this logic is the political analysis by the ICC and Mouvemente Communiste on the riots in France.

Chris

redtwister
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Nov 13 2006 01:33
Mike Harman wrote:
redtwister wrote:
All of those relations of power require an oppressor side and an oppressed side. Oppression requires those who oppress as much as those who are oppressed. And oppression requires people to have some reason to oppress. If it is not your job, if you are not paid, if you are not forced to do it, then you must get some benefit from it. it must put you in a position of privilege, otherwise what is the motive?
...

I don't need to deny that someone else is more exploited or oppressed to want to destroy capital. I don't need to pretend that I am at the bottom of the bottom to hate this world and want to change it.

I don't think anyone on this thread is doing that. However, to recognise that "other people are more exploited (or oppressed) than you", isn't the same as accepting theories of white skin privilege. To be honest you sound like the parent who tells their kid that they have to lick their plate clean because there's "children starving in Africa", as if there's a direct link between their over and under consumption.

Catch,

Please understand before I say this, that you really never motivate this feeling in me and this is very exceptional. Having said that, fuck you for being a sanctimonious cunt.

You and others are denying that being white in the US (and presumably native-born just about everywhere, etc. etc.) conveys material privileges. That is horseshit, factually false. What really pisses me off though is that if you read my article, which has come up here repeatedly, or what I said above, you would know full well that I reject the individualistic, voluntaristic, moralistic bullshit of white skin privilege. I am not asking you to feel bad or prostrate yourself or any of that bullshit. But you and some others can't seem to recognize that its easier being white in this society, that it comes with actual, recognizable, clear, quantifiable material benefits, AND AT THE SAME TIME can only be overcome through class solidarity and class struggle, not some personal repudiation of privilege, as if privilege was not completely structural/systemic/institutional in this society.

/

Quote:
So when my (also black and female) friend at work got sent on an "empowering black managers" training course - which was according to her a course on how to bullshit mixed with a bit of networking, that's about fighting oppression and exploitation is it? How about the Asian Business Network (for reference here's a speech given by a DTI minister to them http://www.dti.gov.uk/ministers/archived/wilson241198.html). "equal access to exploitation" is about right.

Catch, if you can't tel the difference between struggle against racism and the social recuperation of the struggles against racism in the 1960s and 70's, how is that my fucking problem? Are you trying to look stupid? Why do you feel the need to insult my intelligence?

You mean you can't tell the difference between the League of Revolutionary Black Workers and anything with the fucking word "empowerment" in it? And you want to blame your ignorance on me?

No thank you. Keep that kind of nonsense to yourself. It is embarrassing.

Chris

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madashell
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Nov 13 2006 01:39
redtwister wrote:
I don't pretend to know English race politics particularly well.

Ah, but there's the thing. Class and race are intertwined in the US, in a way that they aren't in the UK, which makes this debate a lot more complicated.

I'd like to come back to this when it's not half one in the morning and I'm sober, but I just wanted to make that point. Racism in America is qualitatively different to racism in Britain, which isn't to say that either one is any more acceptable than the other, it's just a matter of fact.

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syndicalistcat
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Nov 13 2006 06:56

I generally agree with the thrust of redtwister's comments.

What I'm interested in, however, is our strategy for working to change white working class consciousness.
As I suggested earlier, white workers will perceive the demands of black workers, and workers of color in general, as a threat insofar as they think that all that is possible are minor adjustments in the context of the existing system. The existing capitalist system is based on not only the class hierarchy, but internal hierarchies in each of the classes, and the occupational structure and the racial and gender hierarchies are part of the internal hierarchy within the working class. The material advantage of better access to better paying jobs through family or other networks, going along with the discrimination against workers of color, fewer hassles with the police, and so on is what some call "white skin privilege." The material advantage is real and it seems to me to explain the persistence of white working class racism, but only if one assumes a lack of belief in anything beyond minor adjustments within the system being possible. That's because the material advantages from working out an alliance with African-Americans, and other working class communities of color, would be potentially vastly greater than any "privilege" accessible to the white working class under this existing hierarchy. Such an alliance is essential for more far-reaching advantages to be within reach, like fundamentally chanllenging the dominating classes. An alliance presupposes authentic mutual respect between the parties that are allied. For white workers to enter into an alliance with working class communities of color, it can't be based on preserving the privileged access to jobs, housing, training, higher paying jobs, for themselves. An alliance is only possible on the basis of the abandonment of white supremacy. If the persistence of white racism is based on lack of belief in the possibility of more fundamental change, this brings out the importance of more widespread acceptance of radicalism among workers, and seeing beyond just minor adjustments in the existing system, seeing the possibility of changing the system. It also explains why it was possible to make some inroads in white racism in some locales at various high points of struggle in the past -- the white worker allies of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in Detroit in the '60s/'70s, some authentic black/white alliances during the '30s labor upsurge, bringing together white and black workers into common organizations by the IWW in the World War I era, and so on.

Lastly, I'll make one minor point, where redtwister's language seems to contradict himself. He says: "White is something this society makes you. Unlike Race Traitor, I do not believe it is an individual choice, as they voluntaristically put it." But, then, he later goes on to contradict that as follows: "So when you many of you uncritically refer to yourselves as white, IMO you have been interpellated by white supremacy. White supremacy called and you called back." This is to adopt the "voluntaristic" stance he just rejected.

Actually the reference of words is not determined by individuals on their own. You don't run your own language. It's determined by the mass of people who speak in your area. Nowadays "white" is used to refer to people of European descent, typically, in the USA. I know the whole history of how it's use has been expanded over time. My father's German ancestors in eastern Pennsylvania were called "non-white" by Ben Franklin in the 1750s. But words have a particular reference at a given point in time dependent on what people around us in this language group are using it now to refer to. Use of the phrase "white working class" does NOT carry with it commitment to an ideology of justification of "white privilege." I usually
try to use "European descent" rather than "white" to be more objective, precisely because I am aware of the ideological history of the word in the USA, but I think it's a bit excessive and pedantic to say anyone who speaks of the "white working class" has automatically bought into white supremacy. White chauvinism, as an ideology, was initially based on a premise of alleged superiority of people of English descent, to justify expropriation and genocide against the indigenous population and to justify African slavery, as imposed by the English imperialists in North
America and then it was extended to other immigrant groups of European origin. So, it came to mean "people of European
descent" or, in its broadest extension, people whose skin color is in the European range. I wouldn't automatically
assume that because a person uses the word "white" to refer to particular population groups that they automatically accept some racialist theory.

Mike Harman
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Nov 13 2006 08:19
redtwister wrote:
I don't pretend to know English race politics particularly well.

I think that's a big problem with this discussion, it's very different to the US. For example, education: white students do better than Black Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi pupils, but Indian and Chinese pupils "outperform every other group" http://www.dfes.gov.uk/research/data/uploadfiles/RTP01-03.pdf . Even the government's own figures state that most of this correlates with social class - i.e. educational achievement is pretty much correlated with economic class (in sociological terms), but race is also very much correlated with economic class. In the UK a lot of this has to do with immigration patterns over the past 60 years rather than the long-term racial politics you have in the US.

Mike Harman
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Nov 13 2006 08:30
Quote:
The white middle class in the US (professionals, independent business owners, managers) comprise over 20% of the population. of that 20%, less than 1/10th of it is Black, despite being over 12% of the total population.

Sorry can you clarify this?

The "professional, independent business owners, managers" strata in the US is 20% of the population, 10% of that strata is black. 12% of the US population is black. That means that give or take 2%, it's very nearly the same proportion of black people in the middle class as in the US poplation as a whole. confused

Quote:
Just because YOU have a black boss does not mean that social privilege is no longer WHITE. Just because a couple white people got passed over for jobs to fulfill affirmative actions quotas does not mean that getting a isn't way, way, WAY easier for someone white.

We don't have affirmative action quotas here, although there's discussions about introducing them in the police force every so often. I think trying to conflate those of us arguing against the idea of "white skin privilege" with those who claim most racism is against whites now is a bit much tbh, and not your usual style.