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Author Topic: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?  (Read 60063 times)

dashrashi

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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #110 on: April 06, 2008, 10:25:35 AM »
I think the point is: when you compare apples to apples (white people of a certain SES with non-white people of the same SES), the white apples have an easier time. Given that, and given that obviously being of a certain race does confer some disadvantages that no one has proven go away with an increase in SES (and in fact, many have submitted evidence to the contrary--that the disadvantages of a being given race can/do persist despite SES, see, e.g., the checklist), I think it's safe to say that there is an advantage to being white. Period. Even if specific whites are occasionally disadvantaged vis a vis other whites, or even a very few, very non-representative minorities. As for the biggest wealth gap in the country, isn't that clear that that's because only white people (roughly speaking) get to the very upper echelons of extreme and obscene wealth? I don't see how that's an argument against the existence of white privilege; if anything, it's an argument against the existence of the much-bemoaned high-SES URM.
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simonsays

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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #111 on: April 06, 2008, 11:21:14 AM »
I think the point is: when you compare apples to apples (white people of a certain SES with non-white people of the same SES), the white apples have an easier time. Given that, and given that obviously being of a certain race does confer some disadvantages that no one has proven go away with an increase in SES (and in fact, many have submitted evidence to the contrary--that the disadvantages of a being given race can/do persist despite SES, see, e.g., the checklist), I think it's safe to say that there is an advantage to being white. Period. Even if specific whites are occasionally disadvantaged vis a vis other whites, or even a very few, very non-representative minorities. As for the biggest wealth gap in the country, isn't that clear that that's because only white people (roughly speaking) get to the very upper echelons of extreme and obscene wealth? I don't see how that's an argument against the existence of white privilege; if anything, it's an argument against the existence of the much-bemoaned high-SES URM.


Is this true across the board?  I can understand the advantage in lower and middle class SES, but am not so sure the advantage hold at the highest (obscene wealth) SES bracket?  Now you could make the argument that you can't traverse to the highest bracket without breaking the barriers of the lower/middle classes, but I'm skeptical on the apples-to-apples SES comparison at the extreme and obscene wealth range. 







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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #112 on: April 06, 2008, 12:49:02 PM »
I think the point is: when you compare apples to apples (white people of a certain SES with non-white people of the same SES), the white apples have an easier time. Given that, and given that obviously being of a certain race does confer some disadvantages that no one has proven go away with an increase in SES (and in fact, many have submitted evidence to the contrary--that the disadvantages of a being given race can/do persist despite SES, see, e.g., the checklist), I think it's safe to say that there is an advantage to being white. Period. Even if specific whites are occasionally disadvantaged vis a vis other whites, or even a very few, very non-representative minorities. As for the biggest wealth gap in the country, isn't that clear that that's because only white people (roughly speaking) get to the very upper echelons of extreme and obscene wealth? I don't see how that's an argument against the existence of white privilege; if anything, it's an argument against the existence of the much-bemoaned high-SES URM.
Good argument. Let's break it down, though:

Quote
I think the point is: when you compare apples to apples (white people of a certain SES with non-white people of the same SES), the white apples have an easier time.
When you compare apples to apples at the lowest echelons of society, many of the problems faced by african-americans living in "white" soceity are not so prevelent because in settings where the poorest African-Americans live, they form the majority culture. In NYC, for example, if you are poor and "white", "asian", "middle-eastern", etc., for example you live in neighborhoods that are predominantly black, go to schools that cater predominantly to black students. You go to barbers who do primarily "black" haircuts, you are exposed to predominantly "black" music and art. Yes, you can turn on the tv and watch shows that portray more white people than black, but you can't relate to the white people on TV on any level because they live in a totally different world than the one you have experienced. It is at this level that white privilege breaks down, and ceases to exist. In the hood, the worst thing to be is white. And there are plenty of white people in the hood that don't have the education or the means to get out.

Quote
Given that, and given that obviously being of a certain race does confer some disadvantages that no one has proven go away with an increase in SES (and in fact, many have submitted evidence to the contrary--that the disadvantages of a being given race can/do persist despite SES, see, e.g., the checklist), I think it's safe to say that there is an advantage to being white. Period.
I agree that by increasing SES and moving out of the ghetto, lighter-skinned people have an easier time acclimating to mainstream society than African Americans. At the same time, at this "transient" social level, lower-middle class whites, asians, middle easterners, etc. face unique challenges that black people do not. They have no money with which to attain a higher education that is key for escaping poverty, and no significant institutional organizations to help them escape. Black people at least have access to organizations such as the United Negro College Fund and dozens of other financial aid opportunities that are designated as "black-only". This "upwardly mobile" SES level is also where AA is the most beneficial to African Americans, but is most damaging to prospective non-black applicants, who don't have access to the educational, financial, legacy and other resources that white candidates are presumed to have over black americans.

It is easier to blend into mainstream society as an upwardly mobile white person, but I would argue that due to the lack of institutional support, actually becoming an upwardly mobile white person is far more challenging.

Again - this isn't a call to abolish AA or other programs that help black college students - those programs MUST exist because due a history of institutional racism. The fact is that the vast majority of African Americans are at this social level, but only a relative minority of  whites - therefore our society has a pretty significant macro problem. But completely discounting the unique challenges faced by whites at this level is dishonest, and it actually detracts from the dialogue on race in America.

Quote
Even if specific whites are occasionally disadvantaged vis a vis other whites, or even a very few, very non-representative minorities.
When "specific whites" refers to 48% of the people living below poverty level in the US, you are dealing with many millions of disadvantaged people - these individuals comprise a huge subset of our society, and they are almost always overlooked in debates on relative advantage. I don't think that's an honest way to think about our country, and more importantly, I don't think that it's an honest way to shape public policy.

Further, they are not disadvantaged only vis-a-vis other whites, or very few non-representative minorities. The latest demographic data clearly shows that "white" people are actually second to "Asian" people in the US in both education and income. In fact, broken down by household family income, "Asians" have a 10k/year median gap with white people - an amount that's as large as the gap between white people and hispanic people. If you control for high income, self-segregating social groups such as old-blood anglo-saxons and Ashkenazi Jews - median income for whites in the US plummets, and becomes similar to hispanic median income.

Therein lies my biggest problem with this whole debate - by using racial designations to define comparative advantage, people throw all whites together into a round number without realizing that a serbian refugee will never in his lifetime have anything in common with an old-blood anglo saxon in the US. The obscene wealth at the top of the socioeconomic ladder completely skews the perceptions of what it means to be "white" in America.

Quote
As for the biggest wealth gap in the country, isn't that clear that that's because only white people (roughly speaking) get to the very upper echelons of extreme and obscene wealth? I don't see how that's an argument against the existence of white privilege; if anything, it's an argument against the existence of the much-bemoaned high-SES URM.

I would disagree. While it's true that the vast majority of multi-millionaires in this country are "white", they tend to be, as I mentioned before, old-blood anglo-saxons and Ashkenazi jews. How much help is that, really, to a serbian refugee living in Bed-Stuy?

Again, by throwing 75% of the people in this country together, and calling them all "white", we are making a large identification error. If, for example, we threw all non-white people together, and compared people of "European Descent" with people of "Non-European Descent" in the US, the comparative income would appear very similar, because the relatively high-SES Ashkenazi Jews and Asian Americans would skew the numbers on the "Non-European Descent" side. Would such a definition of "race" accurately depict the struggle of relatively lower-SES African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans? Of course not! By having such a broad defenition of "whiteness", scholars often over-emphasize the existence of "white privilege" in how it relates to "minority whites".

As for the "much-bemoaned" high-SES URM? Good! It's about damn time that some URMs got to be high-SES!

simonsays

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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #113 on: April 06, 2008, 01:00:46 PM »
I think the point is: when you compare apples to apples (white people of a certain SES with non-white people of the same SES), the white apples have an easier time. Given that, and given that obviously being of a certain race does confer some disadvantages that no one has proven go away with an increase in SES (and in fact, many have submitted evidence to the contrary--that the disadvantages of a being given race can/do persist despite SES, see, e.g., the checklist), I think it's safe to say that there is an advantage to being white. Period. Even if specific whites are occasionally disadvantaged vis a vis other whites, or even a very few, very non-representative minorities. As for the biggest wealth gap in the country, isn't that clear that that's because only white people (roughly speaking) get to the very upper echelons of extreme and obscene wealth? I don't see how that's an argument against the existence of white privilege; if anything, it's an argument against the existence of the much-bemoaned high-SES URM.


Is this true across the board?  I can understand the advantage in lower and middle class SES, but am not so sure the advantage hold at the highest (obscene wealth) SES bracket?  Now you could make the argument that you can't traverse to the highest bracket without breaking the barriers of the lower/middle classes, but I'm skeptical on the apples-to-apples SES comparison at the extreme and obscene wealth range. 


Its even worse at higher incomes. This happened to me Saturday. I am at the car wash getting my car detailed for spring. So Iím at the window watching the cars come through. There is a mid 30ís white guy to my left and a late 20ís early 30's black guy to my right. The place is pretty dead other than us because itís right when they opened. The white guys has typical polo type shirt and Dockers and a newspaper under his arm. Black guy has baggy pants, t-shirt and baseball cap, not gangster but, but not dressy. So in comes a brand-new 2008 Bentley Continental GT Speed with temporary tags. That s a $200k car. It goes through; I want to find out who owns it because I want to ask the guy about because Iím a car nut. I start to turn to the white guy to ask if thatís his car when he walks towards the waiting area. So I think, hmm maybe itís the black guys car.

[bandwidth recycling]

That is white privilege even at the insanely wealthy range. I donít care if youíre the most race blind person in the world, we have all seen more rich white people than rich black people, we are going to assume FIRST the expensive car belongs to the white man. Because in movies and TV and in everyday life we see white people driving expensive cars, when we see a black guy in a Ferrari its an athlete or rap star on MTV cribs.

We assume and place things on people based on our sociological perceptions and stereotypes of those people and what they can achieve, we assume things and white folks get the benefit of the doubt more than black folks. Thatís white privilege. What would I have thought if I saw that car at 2AM parked in front of my house and that same black guy was reaching into the open window or that same white guy was reaching into the open window? What would your first assumption be? Who would get the benifit of the doubt that they owned the car?


You may have missed my point, but may have also reinforced it.  The basic point is this black man, (hypothetically) assuming he is at the highest SES, has a Bentley, regardless of your lower-SES cultural preconditions.  Once you saw it was his Bentley, you quickly realized and corrected your stereotype.  In short order, it illustrates the point quite simply that money talks, and when you have it, negative cultural perceptions are greatly diminished.  Even if these negative perceptions exist, any actual damage (in your hypo) is minimal.

So for those in lower and middle SES, words = (sticks U stones).  Those in the most upper SES, words=words.

Anyway, I apologize for nitpicking on the upper-SES (which I saw as a conflation with the lower-middle SES comparison) in light of it having little if any practical bearing on the AA/SES debate in general.



BearlyLegal

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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #114 on: April 06, 2008, 01:09:42 PM »
I think the point is: when you compare apples to apples (white people of a certain SES with non-white people of the same SES), the white apples have an easier time. Given that, and given that obviously being of a certain race does confer some disadvantages that no one has proven go away with an increase in SES (and in fact, many have submitted evidence to the contrary--that the disadvantages of a being given race can/do persist despite SES, see, e.g., the checklist), I think it's safe to say that there is an advantage to being white. Period. Even if specific whites are occasionally disadvantaged vis a vis other whites, or even a very few, very non-representative minorities. As for the biggest wealth gap in the country, isn't that clear that that's because only white people (roughly speaking) get to the very upper echelons of extreme and obscene wealth? I don't see how that's an argument against the existence of white privilege; if anything, it's an argument against the existence of the much-bemoaned high-SES URM.


Is this true across the board?  I can understand the advantage in lower and middle class SES, but am not so sure the advantage hold at the highest (obscene wealth) SES bracket?  Now you could make the argument that you can't traverse to the highest bracket without breaking the barriers of the lower/middle classes, but I'm skeptical on the apples-to-apples SES comparison at the extreme and obscene wealth range. 


Its even worse at higher incomes. This happened to me Saturday. I am at the car wash getting my car detailed for spring. So Iím at the window watching the cars come through. There is a mid 30ís white guy to my left and a late 20ís early 30's black guy to my right. The place is pretty dead other than us because itís right when they opened. The white guys has typical polo type shirt and Dockers and a newspaper under his arm. Black guy has baggy pants, t-shirt and baseball cap, not gangster but, but not dressy. So in comes a brand-new 2008 Bentley Continental GT Speed with temporary tags. That s a $200k car. It goes through; I want to find out who owns it because I want to ask the guy about because Iím a car nut. I start to turn to the white guy to ask if thatís his car when he walks towards the waiting area. So I think, hmm maybe itís the black guys car.

So I go through the possibilities, maybe this guys a pro athlete, maybe heís a rap star, maybe heís a lot attendant getting the car washed for someone to pick up. Anyway, by now my cars outside so I go out front. The white guy goes up to the Bentley starts inspecting it as if he is looking for dirt they are missing while wiping it off. So I start to think wonder if this guy is a partner at a big firm, or maybe a heart surgeon or CEO of some company, or maybe a pro golfer. Just then, the car wash guy waves his hand and the white guy heads over and gets into his 2000 silver Accord. A few minutes later, the black guy comes out and gets in the Bentley. I still have no idea what either of them do for a living, but I assumed what they did based on little more than what they looked like.

Like it or not we would all likely go through the same assumptions and stereotypes I did in trying to place strangers with their cars. I would have had to go WAY down the list of possible jobs that allowed the black buy to buy that car before I got to doctor or lawyer, but the white guy based on his dress and his skin color I automatically thought he was some rich professional.

That is white privilege even at the insanely wealthy range. I donít care if youíre the most race blind person in the world, we have all seen more rich white people than rich black people, we are going to assume FIRST the expensive car belongs to the white man. Because in movies and TV and in everyday life we see white people driving expensive cars, when we see a black guy in a Ferrari its an athlete or rap star on MTV cribs.

We assume and place things on people based on our sociological perceptions and stereotypes of those people and what they can achieve, we assume things and white folks get the benefit of the doubt more than black folks. Thatís white privilege. What would I have thought if I saw that car at 2AM parked in front of my house and that same black guy was reaching into the open window or that same white guy was reaching into the open window? What would your first assumption be? Who would get the benifit of the doubt that they owned the car?

Another good point, Matthies - but a couple of questions:

If the AA guy was wearing a crisp polo shirt and some golf pants, and the white guy was wearing some baggy BOSS jeans (or, to keep it maybe culturally consistent some black eye-liner and emo-wear), do you think you would have still made the same assumptions?

If the black guy was wearing some medical scrubs?

If the black guy was wearing a smoking jacket and some courdoroys?

If the white guy had on a really bad hawaiian shirt and had a terrible haircut and a 15-day shave?

If the white guy sounded like this? http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3959810249369161691&q=borat&total=23090&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

(The point is that the assumptions you made were based on cultural, not racial indicators.)


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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #115 on: April 06, 2008, 04:40:43 PM »
In this context, that's vague jibber-jabber.

If you saw one of these guys in the car shop, you would think they were well educated professionals:






However, if you saw one of the following people, you would think something else, even though they are white:







To say that you misjudged the guy simply for being black is untrue. You misjudged the guy because he was black, and wasn't dressed the way a stereotypical professional dresses.

If I saw Barak Obama surrounded by 15 black professionals dressed in suits, I wouldn't step across the street (I'd probably want an autograph or want to take a picture with him.) But if I saw 16 white bikers in hells angels gear, I very well might. Am I racist against whites? In the context of my hypo, is Barak Obama the recipient of some vague notion of "black privilege"?

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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #116 on: April 06, 2008, 04:57:57 PM »
In this context, that's vague jibber-jabber.

If you saw one of these guys in the car shop, you would think they were well educated professionals:






However, if you saw one of the following people, you would think something else, even though they are white:







To say that you misjudged the guy simply for being black is untrue. You misjudged the guy because he was black, and wasn't dressed the way a stereotypical professional dresses.

If I saw Barak Obama surrounded by 15 black professionals dressed in suits, I wouldn't step across the street (I'd probably want an autograph or want to take a picture with him.) But if I saw 16 white bikers in hells angels gear, I very well might. Am I racist against whites? In the context of my hypo, is Barak Obama the recipient of some vague notion of "black privilege"?


I haven't said much in this debate because, as BL refines his argument, it gets closer to the middle ground that I think exists in the dichotomies at issue.  I still think he's ignoring some important points, which is particularly strange because it would not be much of a concession just to grant them (and they are true).

Here's one.  With this poser, you're showing that you're still not comparing apples with apples in an SES context.  The REAL analogy is this:


You see a white guy in nice clothes.  You see a black guy in the exact same nice clothes.  There's a Bentley and a Ford Taurus with shining chrome 22s parked side by side.  Which car belongs to whom?
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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #117 on: April 06, 2008, 05:03:22 PM »
You see a white guy in nice clothes.  You see a black guy in the exact same nice clothes.  There's a Bentley and a Ford Taurus with shining chrome 22s parked side by side.  Which car belongs to whom?

The Bentley clearly belongs to the Black guy for two reasons:  1 - A white guy would have a BMW 7 series like all the fathers of my friends in HS (they ALL had BMWs.  It was likea cult).  2 - A black guy would NOT drive a Taurus.

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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #118 on: April 06, 2008, 05:09:16 PM »
You see a white guy in nice clothes.  You see a black guy in the exact same nice clothes.  There's a Bentley and a Ford Taurus with shining chrome 22s parked side by side.  Which car belongs to whom?

The Bentley clearly belongs to the Black guy for two reasons:  1 - A white guy would have a BMW 7 series like all the fathers of my friends in HS (they ALL had BMWs.  It was likea cult).  2 - A black guy would NOT drive a Taurus.

 :D
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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #119 on: April 06, 2008, 05:17:34 PM »
Quote
I haven't said much in this debate because, as BL refines his argument, it gets closer to the middle ground that I think exists in the dichotomies at issue.  I still think he's ignoring some important points, which is particularly strange because it would not be much of a concession just to grant them (and they are true).
Please bring them up! I'm not running around trying to spout off some kind of right-wing ideology. Like I said, I do believe there is a race-based macro problem in the US. I don't deny that we have a ways to go. All I am saying is that sociology is a complex field, and saying that "all whites start off on third base" is untrue and offensive to the millions of whites who start off with (and end up with) nothing but poverty, and no real institutional means to overcome it.

Quote
Here's one.  With this poser, you're showing that you're still not comparing apples with apples in an SES context.  The REAL analogy is this:
I'm not comparing apples with apples because Matthies' post that I was addressing wasn't comparing apples with apples. He had one guy in a polo shirt and khakies and was comparing him to a guy with baggy jeans, and asking who owned the nicest car. That's not a racial question - that's a sociocultural one.


Quote
You see a white guy in nice clothes.  You see a black guy in the exact same nice clothes.  There's a Bentley and a Ford Taurus with shining chrome 22s parked side by side.  Which car belongs to whom?
This is actually a very good question. The answer is - I don't make assumptions about this because I am surrounded by wealthy black individuals. My boss is black. But I will concede that my attitudes may well be atypical in society in general, and that's a huge problem. This is also why I do support AA - I believe that macro-level public perception does not promote the appearence of african-americans as professionals.

But this kind of "advantage" to whites doesn't exist in the classes of whites who are living in poverty, and have no opportunity to raise themselves to the professional level.

I understand that my point isn't a simple one to digest - but racial questions are complex. Simply saying that everyone who is white "starts on third base" ignores the reality that plenty of whites don't even own cars - or nice clothes, and never have the privilege to be compared in this way in the first place.