Meanwhile On TumblR: Come Get The “Accidental Racist” And Wage-Gap Realities For Women Of Color

By Andrea Plaid


To paraphrase bell hooks, like feminism, allyship is something you do, not who you are. And Racializens gave a lot of love to Shakesville’s Melissa McEwan, who wrote one of the smartest come-get-your-people responses to “Accidental Racist” (and, btw, wrote a great post on allyship itself):

It isn’t a fucking accident for a White man to put on a shirt with a Confederate flag. It isn’t a fucking accident for a White man to say he’s “got a lot to learn BUT.” It isn’t a fucking accident for a White man to whine about “walkin’ on eggshells” and “fightin’ over yesterday,” as if racism is a thing of the past and not something active and present in the here and now. It isn’t a fucking accident for a White man to say “we’re still paying for mistakes / that a bunch of folks made long before we came,” as if White Southerners’ lingering discomfort with slave history is the same fucking thing as the structural effects of slavery that inform the lives of Black USians’ to this very day. It isn’t a fucking accident to compare the Confederate flag to a do-rag or saggy drawers. All of this is thoughtfully conceived and deliberate bullshit.

Marginalized people don’t owe privileged people non-judgment and tolerance and indulgence of their gross redefinition of symbols of oppression in exchange for basic decency. The inherent power imbalance between privilege and marginalization makes the entire idea of an “equal exchange” of good will reprehensibly absurd.

If White people want Black people to trust us, then we should make ourselves fucking trustworthy. That means releasing our stranglehold on a lot of symbols and images and words and practices with racist origins, even if we like them a lot—boo fucking hoo!—instead of trying to argue selective context. Especially when there are always plenty of White folks who still value the embedded racism in those things. Brad Paisley, you are literally expecting Black people to be able to read White people’s minds and magically discern whether this one White guy is wearing a Confederate flag just because he has Southern Pride, ahem, or because he hates the fuck outta Black people.

That wildly unreasonable expectation is no accident, either.

And Tumblizens went wild over Sophia Kerby’s story on the the net effects of the wage gap–exacerbated by, as mentioned last week, the racialized distribution of job favors:

The long-term wage gap hurts families of color tremendously, forcing families to choose between putting food on the table or saving for a college education and retirement. On average, an African American woman working full time loses the equivalent of 118 weeks of food each year due to the wage gap. A Latina loses 154 weeks’ worth of food. The stubbornly persistent gender-based wage gap adds up substantially over the lifetime of a woman’s career. For women of color the loss of savings over a 30-hour-a-week to a 40-hour-a-week work lifespan is significant. A woman of color will have to live on one-third to 45 percent less than a white man based on the average benefits that are afforded through Social Security and pension plans. Research shows that a woman’s average lifetime earnings are more than $434,000 less than a comparable male counterpart over a 35-year working life.

Analysis done in 2012 by the Center for American Progress illustrates that the money lost over the course of a working woman’s lifetime could do one of the following:

–Feed a family of four for 37 years
–Pay for seven four-year degrees at a public university
–Buy two homes
–Purchase 14 new cars
–Simply be saved for retirement and used to boost her quality of life when she leaves the workforce

Lifetime earnings are even lower for women of color because they face higher levels of unemployment and poverty rates. In March 2013 unemployment rates of black [women] and Latinas were significantly higher than their white counterparts at 12.2 percent and 9.3 percent respectively compared to white women at 6.1 percent. According to the National Women’s Law Center, poverty rates among women, particularly women of color, remain historically high and unchanged in the last year. The poverty rate among women was 14.6 percent in 2011—the highest in the last 18 years. For black women and Latinas that same year, the poverty rate was 25.9 percent and 23.9 percent, respectively.

Check out what other stats and facts–and news and views–are happening on the R’s Tumblr!


About This Blog

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

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  • Kraas

    Intent only goes so far. With an effort this half-assed, they may as well have not have written the song at all. Instead of looking like they want to promote a conversation about race, the chosen lyrics make LL and Brad seem like they want to just bury the past and ignore/trivialize the racism (that’s often coupled with sexism as mentioned in the article) that is still around today.

  • Keith

    You can see why people are offended, but you are not? Fine you are not offended, but it does not give you a right to dismiss other peoples feeling. It’s funny how you don’t mention your race, or why someone would actually be offended. It’s a tactic that allot of people who deny racism and white supremacy use. I am not into protecting the egos of Americans who are butt hurt about acknowledging the social issues of poverty, and wage gaps cause by the real institute of racism in this country.

  • Gayer Than Thou

    “Marginalized people don’t owe privileged people non-judgment and tolerance and indulgence of their gross redefinition of symbols of oppression in exchange for basic decency. The inherent power imbalance between privilege and marginalization makes the entire idea of an “equal exchange” of good will reprehensibly absurd.”

    This is a critical point. Can’t be stressed enough.

  • Super Amanda

    I think LL Cool J and his need to fall at the feet of white supremacy needs to be looked at. Perhaps there is a post be written right now? He deserves no pity or sympathy. If Paul Robeson was vilified by Marcus Garvey for “Sanders of The River” which upheld the white man’s burden and colonialism, even given the times (1930s) and being lied to by filmmakers, it at least woke him up and led him to be the first actor of any race to demand final cut approval on a film and get it. I’m worried that too many anti-racists will pity LL or make him out to be a victim. He’s not, He’s an idiot. Speaking of idiots; why does madonna get a free pass on your website? She’s exploited, kidnapped and used Black culture for decades and now it has become far more serious than just a video or a “Black men are the most violent” comment in SPIN:

    • AndreaPlaid

      Madonna gets a free pass at Racialicious? Wait…you mean that Madonna, about which the R’s Owner/Editor Latoya Peterson said in this post:

      In the case of Madonna, I’m not too sure. Her earlier interest stunk to high heaven with the white savior complex, and the controversy over David Banda’s adoption added further fuel to the fire. After spending some more time in Malawi, she seems to have shifted out of the idea that one raises awareness by adoption and horrific images of suffering, and has shifted to promoting projects and infrastructure. The new school is a good start, and a step in the right direction. But what will Madonna do next? Will she continue learning and implementing projects that contribute to long term solutions? Or will she go back to the standard celebrity charity junket? (If her plea on theHuffington Post is any indication, we are heading back to “your one time donation” territory.)

      I’m not getting “pass” here, but a questioning of her motives in light of a deed that she’s done.

      Or said this about Madonna in this post:

      And people like Madonna, and this reporter for Vanity Fair, seem to buy into this idea, that Africa is a dark continent begging for a savior, never realizing that our governments directly contribute to their plight.

      But at the end of the day, who cares? After all, the article isn’t about Malawi. It’s about Madonna.

      And she’s got an album to sell.

      At best, a further doubting the pop star’s motive in terms of her involvement in Africa.

      And this from the R’s ex-owner, Carmen Van Kerckhove:

      Oh come on. She needs to “redress the balance?”

      Though we may not have addressed her culture-vulturing around here–and, yes, some of us here at the R may still like her music, culture-vulturing notwithstanding–because we do have complex feelings about her like that, we don’t give her a pass

      Thanks for your response and the tip!