Wednesday, December 24, 2008

More on Race and Privilege

i'm not exactly sure of the meandering path that landed me on racialicious reading a post about the politics of hair. normally i stay in my happy little feminist/FA circuit of blog reading, venturing into other -ism blogs only as they relate to the other stuff i'm reading. mostly because it's all too much for me to wrap my head around most days. there's too much for me to process all at once, and i just let the search take me where it seems to want to go. which is probably how i ended up there.

i've been mulling over privilege, again... because it's the hinge that everything seems to be hung on. and it's the thing i have the hardest time seeing in myself. but Latoya Peterson's post about her decision to let her chemically relaxed hair grow out to a natural texture, and the body politics that came along with that, was really eye opening. and i thought, wow i can totally relate to that. that's just like the time i decided not to diet anymore and... then i realized it was nothing like that. yeah, there were body politics involved with that decision. but no one told me i was more or less really a part of my racial background because of it. while the beauty myh that leads fat women to diet is the same myth that leads women of color to relax their hair it's not the same situation. and i guess i'm making progress that i was able to rethink the desire to relate to her post and then make it all about me. maybe it's enough to just relate, to say wow that resonated with me. i haven't posted a comment to her blog, mostly because i'm unsure of how to bring myself into her space and not bring my entitlement and privilge with me.

and so i went back into posts about privilege to read more about it and get a furthur handle. i'm still working on sorting it all out. i know i have white privilege. i know i have a seemingly heteronormative relationship which confers privilege. i know even if/when i find another partner to join the relationship there will be a shift in that seeming but i don't know to what extent. i think a lot of it will depend on who i end up with. another white guy? a woman? a person of color? each varriation brings other bagage with it. baggage i'm sure i'll deal with at that time.

but the white privilege thing is the one that i trip over the most. and in amoung the articles i found this gem. it's got some typos and it's an older piece but the list Peggy McIntosh puts together had some ahhhhhh moments for me. these in particular:

I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn't a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.
I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.

that last one especially. because, like peggy, i was taught that racism is acts of meanness and bigotry and are pretty blatent. i still get a gut reaction when i hear, or read, about someone saying something is racist when there is no clear bigotry. i think to myself the person crying discrimination is being overly sensitive, or just trying to get sympathy, or is trying to get more help then they were offered. i'm not sure what i can do about it yet, other than keep on reading and pondering.

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