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Author Topic: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?  (Read 60240 times)

Susan B. Anthony

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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #70 on: April 04, 2008, 01:54:54 PM »
Quote
White people - white men in particular - don't need a history month, dude. That's the point. There's a black history month, a women's history month, a whatever history month because history as it is taught is white male history. That may be changing, but that doesn't change the fact that the reason we have these things is because there was/is a deficiency in the way our society has addressed history. Not because black history, women's history, etc., are more celebrated, but precisely because they have been ignored. If you'd like, we can refer to every month without a special designation as white male history month. Would that make you feel better?
No it wouldn't. Because there is no such thing as a "White Male". I have never in my life taken a history class that has ever said *anything* positive about my culture. In every history class I have taken, Russian people have been portrayed as *at best* bumbling fools, and at worst powermad communist imperialists.

I have taken dozens of classes where the (truly inspiring) accomplishments of Booker T. Washington, Maya Angelou, George Washington Carver, Martin Luther King, and others were made very clear to me. But it took significant independent research to find out about the equally significant accomplishments of Soia Mentchikoff, Pitirim Sorokin, and Igor Sikorsky.

Race is a social construction, and the American Educational system tries to forcefeed me bull$hit about how *my* ancestors killed the Native Americans, and enslaved Africans. I don't know who these "white men" who dominate the American History curriculum are, but they sure as hell aren't my ancestors, and they aren't the ancestors of the vast majority of so called "white" people living in the United States today.

Here's the problem, dude. The assertion that I was responding to claimed that "we," referring to white people, don't get a history month. Further personalizing it changes the issue. Perhaps I missed the point of what you were saying. Nonetheless:

No one is saying that there aren't other problems with the way that our society sees/teaches history, with the way our society operates in general. Gee, I wonder why there might be issues with the way Russian history is taught in the United States? It's not surprising in the least to me that there are. That doesn't make it unproblematic. But that also doesn't mean that it's an argument against the idea of white privilege.

There are a few important things to note here.

1. Most white Americans don't have the same cultural identity that you do. Most white Americans don't have much of any cultural identity beyond being "American" and maybe celebrating St. Patrick's Day with green beer. I'm not saying that there aren't elements here that are problematic, indicative of the melting pot idea that wiped out the unique identities of many immigrants (I'm also not saying that there's anything wrong with green beer). Sure, I've bemoaned the fact that I don't know anything about what it means to be Swedish, that although my grandmother spoke Swedish fluently she kept it from my father because she wanted him to be more "American". It's unfortunate. It's also one of the dilemmas that faces a nation of immigrants: how do you make a cohesive whole from disparate parts? But there's also an element of privilege for those who have adopted "American" as their identity. (Also, being Swedish is as much a construct as is being American. It's just, you know, an older identity). And the negative aspects don't take that privilege away.

2. For many of the ways that white privilege operates, what your personal ethnic identity is doesn't matter. Yes, the idea of the "white male" is a social construct. It's overly simplistic. I'm not going to argue with that. The problem is that white privilege is a social force: it operates within, on, because of social constructs like the "white male". While (because your Russian heritage is important to you) some elements of white privilege may operate differently on you (the way history is taught, for instance, as we've been discussing), many elements of white privilege aren't about how you feel, but rather about how society feels about you. It's not about who you are, but rather who society thinks you are. Again, as I note above, there are problems with this, but that doesn't erase the privilege. Furthermore, race in general being a construct doesn't mean that it doesn't matter and doesn't operate in our society.

3. Again, "white privilege" is a broad concept, one that operates differently in the lives of different people. Maybe certain elements don't apply, or don't apply as strongly, to you. That doesn't mean that it doesn't operate in your life and in the lives of other people. White privilege != all white people have it easy. White privilege != all white people are the same. White privilege != whiteness, blackness, whateverness are not socially constructed. White privilege DOES mean that ideas about race, ideas about whiteness in particular, operate in important, sometimes subtle, ways - ways that grant privileges. And you can acknowledge that without losing your identity, without saying that being white = life is easy, without legitimizing the social constructions that give rise to white privilege. You can acknowledge it while having conversations about why these issues are complicated.

Astro

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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #71 on: April 04, 2008, 01:58:39 PM »
I believe that you are absolutely right about what you said, but I don't think AA is doing anything to fix the problem of institutional racism. 

to the extent that it helps in increasing the number of people among the elite classes who are from minority backgrounds, it actually does address the problem.  however i don't think that anyone would consider aa to be much more than a stopgap.
TITCR and this is the primary reason I support AA! The point of AA is not to give jobs to people who don't deserve them. The main and most legitimate point of AA is to create a macro system where there is a significant amount of successful minority role-models that will inspire new generations of minorities to rise up and attain their own success.The doll experiment that was done for Brown v. Board is exactly the kind of thing that AA is meant to fight. Little African American boys and girls should be able to grow up in an environment where they truly believe that if they work really hard, they can become doctors, lawyers, businessmen and scientists. Until we have this kind of environment, AA is a terrible solution, but it's the only one we have.

Darker-colored bandaids have nothing to do with it.

Bearly, this is the FIRST legitimately good argument I've heard in favor of AA. I'm usually opposed to AA and the way it's used, but this is a good point.


::smh::
J, if you didn't bring enough penis for everyone, you shouldn't have brought any penis at all. 

BearlyLegal

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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #72 on: April 04, 2008, 02:17:02 PM »
Quote
Here's the problem, dude. The assertion that I was responding to claimed that "we," referring to white people, don't get a history month. Further personalizing it changes the issue. Perhaps I missed the point of what you were saying. Nonetheless:

No one is saying that there aren't other problems with the way that our society sees/teaches history, with the way our society operates in general. Gee, I wonder why there might be issues with the way Russian history is taught in the United States? It's not surprising in the least to me that there are. That doesn't make it unproblematic. But that also doesn't mean that it's an argument against the idea of white privilege.
My answer was in response directly to the assertion that every month is "white history month", when in fact, there is no such thing as "white history". I used my Russian cultural identity as an example of why the concept that "white" people have the advantage of public historical awareness of their race's accomplishments is deeply flawed.



Quote
1. Most white Americans don't have the same cultural identity that you do. Most white Americans don't have much of any cultural identity beyond being "American" and maybe celebrating St. Patrick's Day with green beer. I'm not saying that there aren't elements here that are problematic, indicative of the melting pot idea that wiped out the unique identities of many immigrants (I'm also not saying that there's anything wrong with green beer). Sure, I've bemoaned the fact that I don't know anything about what it means to be Swedish, that although my grandmother spoke Swedish fluently she kept it from my father because she wanted him to be more "American". It's unfortunate. It's also one of the dilemmas that faces a nation of immigrants: how do you make a cohesive whole from disparate parts? But there's also an element of privilege for those who have adopted "American" as their identity. (Also, being Swedish is as much a construct as is being American. It's just, you know, an older identity). And the negative aspects don't take that privilege away.
Most white Americans don't have any cultural identity specifically because they chose to come to the US, destroy their cultural norms, and accept being *American* rather than Irish, Italian, Russian, Swedish, Etc. There are no "Swedish Studies" departments at universities, but there are "African American Studies" departments. You are saying that the assimilation of Europeans into mainstream American society has produced benefits for said Europeans - wouldn't it follow that the assimilation of African Americans into mainstream American society produce benefits for said African Americans?

Quote
2. For many of the ways that white privilege operates, what your personal ethnic identity is doesn't matter. Yes, the idea of the "white male" is a social construct. It's overly simplistic. I'm not going to argue with that. The problem is that white privilege is a social force: it operates within, on, because of social constructs like the "white male". While (because your Russian heritage is important to you) some elements of white privilege may operate differently on you (the way history is taught, for instance, as we've been discussing), many elements of white privilege aren't about how you feel, but rather about how society feels about you. It's not about who you are, but rather who society thinks you are. Again, as I note above, there are problems with this, but that doesn't erase the privilege. Furthermore, race in general being a construct doesn't mean that it doesn't matter and doesn't operate in our society.
Here is how society used to think of IRISH people:


The largest mass-lynching against any ethnic group in US History took place against ITALIANS.

The first and most severe federal restriction to Immigration took place against the CHINESE.

The only federally mandated racial-based imprisonment in the last century took place agains the ITALIANS and the JAPANESE.

Noone thought of these groups as being white a hundred years ago. Why are they "white" now? Because upon shedding their own cultural identity, they have willingly allowed the US to assimilate them.

Quote
3. Again, "white privilege" is a broad concept, one that operates differently in the lives of different people. Maybe certain elements don't apply, or don't apply as strongly, to you. That doesn't mean that it doesn't operate in your life and in the lives of other people. White privilege != all white people have it easy. White privilege != all white people are the same. White privilege != whiteness, blackness, whateverness are not socially constructed. White privilege DOES mean that ideas about race, ideas about whiteness in particular, operate in important, sometimes subtle, ways - ways that grant privileges. And you can acknowledge that without losing your identity, without saying that being white = life is easy, without legitimizing the social constructions that give rise to white privilege. You can acknowledge it while having conversations about why these issues are complicated.
TITCR.

Susan B. Anthony

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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #73 on: April 04, 2008, 02:19:26 PM »
Good god, could you miss the point by any wider margin?

I quit.

BearlyLegal

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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #74 on: April 04, 2008, 02:22:47 PM »
Good god, could you miss the point by any wider margin?

I quit.
I'm sorry. You keep saying. "White Privilege Exists! It's true!". Well I am sorry, just because you say it's true, and because hundreds of academics who forged their careers while fighting de facto and de jure white privilege in the 70's  say it's true doesn't make it true in the present day.


BearlyLegal

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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #76 on: April 04, 2008, 02:30:27 PM »
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3495/is_2_48/ai_97873146
(REDACTED)

If you name your child something that doesn't fit into main-stream society, and there is a bias against that, it's not something that proves white privilege. My black friend Everett had no problem finding his job.

Edit: This is also why my Korean friend Jin-Hue puts "John" on his resume. White privilege?

Susan B. Anthony

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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #77 on: April 04, 2008, 02:37:23 PM »
 ::)


BearlyLegal

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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #78 on: April 04, 2008, 02:42:13 PM »
::)


Whatever, Cady.

I'm presenting ideas that take into account a little bit more than the past 50 years of white-guilt driven sociological academia, and in response, I get eyerolls.

Do the African Americans in this country have a terrible and abusive history? Absolutely.
Do we need to take steps to give the macro-level ethnic group a more even footing in our society? Absolutely.
Is there some kind of identifiable or tangible advantage to simply having lighter skin? Absolutely not. I would take Claudio Simpkins' life over my own any day.

Susan B. Anthony

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Re: Be honest WASPs: why does AA really bother you?
« Reply #79 on: April 04, 2008, 02:43:53 PM »
Yeah...that's exactly what you're doing.