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Archive for March 22nd, 2008

Race, Obama, and white privilege

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Geraldine FerraroObamaIt is impenetrably difficult for we who are white to see what white privilege has handed us.

Sometimes I wonder if the common white “I am color-blind” outlook really amounts to just plain blindness. For to ignore color is to ignore the elephant in the room: being white is still very different from being non-white in the USA. Self-professed color-blindness, which has such a noble ring to those with the upper hand, may say to non-whites, “I am blind to how the past affects you and me today.”

It may be like saying, “You don’t hurt. If you do, that’s sad, but it has nothing to do with me. For since I bear you no ill will, I am no racist. As far as I’m concerned, we’re equals.”

Perhaps the operant phrase is as far as I’m concerned. Might it mean “My (white) view is the view by which we’ll operate”? Might it be the basis of Geraldine Ferraro’s rage: that her white view of what racism is—something like “harboring ill will toward people of color”—is, to her, the only view that matters?

Might the elements of racism that invisibly color our own outlooks be as pernicious as the more obvious ones we detest in others?

Roger Cohen, in a NY Times opinion piece, writes an eloquent, poignant personal reaction to the Obama race speech. I encourage you to read it all. Here are some excerpts:

Beyond America’s Original Sin

There are things you come to believe and things you carry in your blood. In my case, having spent part of my childhood in apartheid South Africa, I bear my measure of shame. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

March 22, 2008 at 6:29 pm