Archive for February, 2009

Eric Holder: U.S. Fears Racial Topics

Posted on February 20, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

On Wednesday, February 18, 2009, Eric Holder, the first African-American attorney general said that the U.S. is “a nation of cowards” regarding race relations.  He defended his statement by highlighting the differences in the racial divide of our American weekend lives by connecting to the pre- and post- civil rights era.  Although he did not provide substantial evidence to support his statement, he strongly declared the need for dialogue.  He said race “is an issue we have never been at ease with and, given our nation’s history, this is in some ways understandable…If we are to make progress in this area, we must feel comfortable enough with one another and tolerant enough of each other to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us.” If this does not resonate within you, I strongly encourage you to consider the following concerns.

The notion of “white privilege” is interwoven throughout the fabric of our daily lives.  In order to to understand this concept, consider the following statements by Peggy McIntosh, Ph.D., Associate Professor of the Wellesley Centers for Women, founder, and co-director of the National SEED Project on Inclusive Curriculum (Seeking Educational Equity & Diversity), and co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Women’s Institute.  In, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” she provides the following examples;

“I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.”

“When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.”

“I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.”

“Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.”

“I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.”

“I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.”

I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.

I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.

White privilege derives from power – societal/cultural power.  In the States, those in power establish the cultural and societal norms, expectations, and metrics through which we judge ourselves and others.  Power, the rotten core of the bad U.S. apple, allows the powerful to force their ideas, beliefs, and values onto the power-less, which are generally the low-income and underrepresented citizens (minorities and those with disabilities).  That privilege, and those examples listed above, permit the continued enslavement of the “others” by literally smothering the smoldering smoke of inter-racial dialogue.  Namely, if you’re in power, you don’t want to discuss how you oppress others, so you change the way you educate, you change the way you feel about yourselves (dissonance), and the way you engage with others.  If this still doesn’t make sense…look at how the U.S. press informs its citizens of its ‘progress’ in either of the two current wars.  World media greatly criticizes our efforts in Iraq and the Middle East, whereas former President Bush insists we have liberated Iraqi’s and successfully introduced them to democracy.  Do you really believe this? You have the power to decide.

More to come.

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