Category Archives: privilege

Go After the Privilege, Not the Tits: Afterthoughts on Alexandra Wallace and White Female Privilege

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

As soon-to-be-former UCLA student Alexandra Wallace packs her stuff and leaves the university due to fear for her life, I’ve watched how some people and the press reacted to her.  As Colorlines and other blogs noted, combating her anti-Asian racism with life-threatening misogyny really wasn’t the best social-justice idea:

Nor combatting racial stereotypes with…racialized sexual stereotypes:


Or even having a “yeah, you’re racist, but I’d still fuck ya” vibe, a la the guitar-strumming crooner, in an otherwise witty comeback song:

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Quotable: Byron Hurt On Facing Sexual Assault

The following day, I attended a workshop about preventing gender violence, facilitated by Katz. There, he posed a question to all of the men in the room: “Men, what things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?”Not one man, including myself, could quickly answer the question. Finally, one man raised his hand and said, “Nothing.” Then Katz asked the women, “What things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?” Nearly all of the women in the room raised their hand. One by one, each woman testified:

“I don’t make eye contact with men when I walk down the street,” said one.
“I don’t put my drink down at parties,” said another.
“I use the buddy system when I go to parties.”
“I cross the street when I see a group of guys walking in my direction.”
“I use my keys as a potential weapon.”

“I carry mace or pepper spray.”
“I watch what I wear.”

– From “Why I Am A Black Male Feminist”

Image courtesy of The Root

The Politics Of Hailing A Cab

By Guest Contributor Loryn Wilson, cross-posted from

On New Year’s Eve, I stumbled out of Marvin and went out to 14th Street to find a cab. Next to me was a white guy, apparently trying to do the same thing. A cab pulls up, and I jump in as fast as I could, because I know how this normally goes. Most of the time, this story ends with the white guy getting picked up and I’m left to wait for a cab driver to stop for a black girl.

I must’ve not shut the door quick enough, because the white guy who was standing on the same corner as me squeezes his ass in! The cabdriver asks where he’s going and it’s in the complete opposite direction as my destination. The cabdriver says he can only take one of us to our destination. I get indignant. “Sir, I was here first. You’re not kicking me out of the cab. At all.”

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Understanding autochtoon privilege

By Guest Contributor Flavia Tamara Dzodan, cross-posted from Red Light Politics

Here in The Netherlands, racial matters and subsequent discussions are framed very differently from those in North America. I suspect that due to the fact that The Netherlands has lacked an equivalent to the Civil Rights Movement, race issues are still stalled in a colonial phase where oppressive language and the relevant discourse have never been properly deconstructed and challenged (and hardly analyzed at all outside academic circles).

To give a bit of background, the Dutch state has a classification system for those of us who live here. This classification is not necessarily framed on ethnicity but on place of birth (both for the classified subject and her parents). The Dutch state uses a word appropriated from biology, “allochtoon” to refer to us. This term originally denotes any organism which is non native to a given ecosystem. They have, in turn, created a scale of “foreignness” in which a Native Dutch (known as “autochtoon” in Dutch state parlance) is at the top of the food chain, followed by “Western foreigners” (i.e. Americans and other Caucasian Europeans) and then at the bottom of the foreignness pyramid, “non-Western foreigners” (i.e. everyone who comes from a country classified as non Western or underdeveloped).

This foreignness is determined not only by the place where one was born but also by the place where one’s parents come from. So, someone could be born in The Netherlands, but still be classified as a non Western foreigner because one of her parents hails from such place. Because I am South American, I am one such “Non Western Foreigner”. My status as an ethnic foreigner is also made evident by the way I look (I am consistently addressed in Arabic or Turkish because of my completion).

The laws of the country are such that I am obliged to disclose my “Non Western foreigner” status in a multitude of ways: if I am to apply for a job, I am obliged to tell; if I am to take a language course, I am obliged to tell; my healthcare provider demands to know this and I am obliged to tell (supposedly for statistical purposes); education plans and programs are put in place specifically for people like me (and my children if I had any).

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Illegal immigrants ‘are all over my house’

By Guest Contributor Tomas Summers Sandoval, cross-posted from Latino Like Me

Colin Powell appeared on “Meet the Press” (9/19/10) and spoke about a Republican party he described as “waiting to emerge once again,” a party of moderates who are more balanced in their approach to several issues, including immigration.

Here is the section of his interview where he responds to the opportunistic xenophobia that is currently the preferred stance on immigration within the GOP:

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Tim Wise Takes On Critics of White Anti-Racists

Excerpted from an upcoming interview with Andrea (AJ) Plaid

Colorblind coverI personally think Tim Wise really doesn’t need an introduction. To borrow from Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, if you don’t know him by now

…but let me not be presumptuous and let me present to some and introduce to others Mr. Wise.

He is one of the prominent public intellectuals and activists regarding white privilege and racism around today. Beyond his many speaking engagements and sharing in discussions with anti-racism intellectuals and activists of color such as Marc Lamont Hill about the history, mechanics, contemporary examples of, and the reasons behind white racism on media outlets like CNN and MSNBC, he’s written several books on the topic: the latest is Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity.  Around the online office where we Racialicious correspondents hang, he’s just referred to as “our dude Tim,” and he’s been known to drop by from time to time. By his own admittance, he reads this blog.  For me, he’s the perfect comeback when a white person wants to roll up to me with some racist ish as in, “You really need to read some Tim Wise.”

So, as you may guess, this attention attracts critics–not just the white supremacists and conservative/Teabaggers types (par of this particular course), but other anti-racism activists.  So, I asked our dude Tim about this.

Andrea Plaid:  Some anti-racist activists have been raising some interesting critiques about you (on Twitter and Tumblr, specifically) in terms of your commitment to “organizing.”  More pointedly, they say there’s a “lone cowboy” element to your speaking out on white privilege and white racism and/or that your renown keeps anti-racists of color from making a living doing the same thing.  Personally, I think it’s a bit of hateration, but that’s me. :-) Your thoughts?

Tim Wise: Well, I’m actually glad for this kind of criticism, because whites engaged in this work need to always be thinking through what we do and how we do it. As for the issue of organizing versus “lone cowboy”-ism, there are lots of different roles to play in the struggle against injustice. Organizing is one critical role. At one point, that is the work I did. For about the first five years after college. But I just wasn’t very good at it. I was OK, but it’s too important a job to have it done by someone who’s just OK. So I chose to move away from that work, because I wasn’t being of assistance to the community in the way the community deserved.

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Quotable: Elon James White

I’m always overjoyed when someone takes my observations about problems in our society due to race as complaining. It makes me feel like they care, you know? They care enough to take time out of their busy day to attempt to make me feel like crap. That’s amazing.

You do know that’s what you’re doing, right? When you start yelling/writing letters about the complaining Negroes it feels like a direct punch at anyone who might have noticed race-based issues in our country. You’re not speaking about some nameless dark horde seeking to conquer this nation via government programs.

You’re talking about me. My mother. My friends.

“This Week In Blackness,” Aug. 25

On Montana Fishburne

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

Montana FishburneI understand Montana Fishburne.  No, really I do.

I understand that I wanted to walk into the great halls of adulthood and thought having sex was the key to opening the door when I was about her age, especially since sexual activity is viewed in this society as the providence of grown-ups.  Sex, I thought, would lead to gravitas, to be taken seriously by the people I want to be, who were in the stage of life I thought I was.

So, I decided to lose my virginity at 21.  In my head, it was the first “adult” act, something I fully, consciously did without anyone’s permission but my own and my partner’s.  For someone who survived sexual violation at a very young age, this decision was monumental. (For the more curious: my virginity-losing was intimate (my partner and me); it was pagan; it was great. That’s all you need to know…)

In a spirit of mother-daughter sharing,–and thinking that I just walked through that hallowed door–I told my mom.  Wow, did I underestimate my mom’s openness:  she didn’t speak to me for a couple of weeks because, she admitted later, that’s not what young women do, “just lay up like that.”

Watching and listening to 19-year-old Montana, I get the distinct impression of someone who 1) also wants to be seen and taken seriously as an adult, 2) wants to have fun in life because her privilege should allow it, 3) really wants to be viewed as free-thinker and freer spirit, and 4) has a look of wondering if she’s in over her head with her long-lasting adult decision but is sticking with it to prove to everyone wrong.

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