Longform Links – Gender & Privilege, Whiteness

Ta-Nehisi Coates – Gender and Privilege

The sexism/racism comment is hokum, and has been roundly dismissed as such, but there is something deeper here. Why the hell was Hillary Clinton, and many of her allies, “shocked” by the sexism she encountered? I’ve been wondering this for months. I mean think about: Nobody black is “shocked” that Clinton won West Virgina and Kentucky 2 to 1. Nobody black is “shocked” that there is a Curious George tee-shirt of Obama. Nobody black is shocked that a Kentucky Congressman called Barack Obama “boy.” Black people can’t afford to be shocked. If anything we’re shocked Obama won Iowa, Oregon and Idaho. In other words, we’re shocked that America is evidently less racist than we thought it was.

I think this reflects how gender interacts with privilege–and arguably white privilege. No black woman who has to walk down Lenox Ave. and endure the cat-calls, who has to deal with the latest ho-slapping Snoop single, who has to function in a culture where “pimp” is now a postive word, is “shocked” by sexism.

Tim Wise for LiP Magazine – Your Whiteness Is Showing

For those threatening to vote for John McCain or to stay home and help ensure Barack Obama’s defeat, as a way to protest what you call Obama’s sexism (examples of which you seem to have difficulty coming up with), all the while claiming to be standing up for women…

Your whiteness is showing.

When I say your whiteness is showing this is what I mean: You claim that your opposition to Obama is an act of gender solidarity, in that women (and their male allies) need to stand up for women in the face of the sexist mistreatment of Clinton by the press. On this latter point–the one about the importance of standing up to the media for its often venal misogyny–you couldn’t be more correct. As the father of two young girls who will have to contend with the poison of patriarchy all their lives, or at least until such time as that system of oppression is eradicated, I will be the first to join the boycott of, or demonstration on, whatever media outlet you choose to make that point. But on the first part of the above equation–the part where you insist voting against Obama is about gender solidarity–you are, for lack of a better way to put it, completely full of crap. And what’s worse is that at some level I suspect you know it. Voting against Senator Obama is not about gender solidarity. It is an act of white racial bonding, and it is grotesque.

If it were gender solidarity you sought, you would by definition join with your black and brown sisters come November, and do what you know good and well they are going to do, in overwhelming numbers, which is vote for Barack Obama. But no. You are threatening to vote not like other women–you know, the ones who aren’t white like you and most of your friends–but rather, like white men! Needless to say it is high irony, bordering on the outright farcical, to believe that electorally bonding with white men, so as to elect McCain, is a rational strategy for promoting feminism and challenging patriarchy. You are not thinking and acting as women, but as white people. So here’s the first question: What the hell is that about?

And you wonder why women of color have, for so long, thought (by and large) that white so-called feminists were phony as hell? Sister please…

Misplaced Baggage – Got War?

To be made an orphan by the war on the Vietnamese, allowed a segment of the American population to take pity on my predicament. In my mind, the predicament is really this: how does one bring in and raise a child of the enemy? What sort of mental calculations had to be made to account for the fact that these people who brought me into their community to live and become a citizen among them were the same ones who did nothing to end their government’s willful killing off of my countrymen and women?

Well, I think I can offer one educated guess as to how they accomplished this feat: They gave me a second chance. And, I could take it or leave it. My survival, my well-being and my happiness were placed squarely on my shoulders.

My family, my community and the people of the United States could then sit back and pat themselves on the back that at least one good thing came out of that war: I was alive due to their charity.

Now, all I had to do was forgive and forget.