#MyWhitePrivilege Misses the Whole Damn Point!

#MyWhitePrivilege Misses the Whole Damn Point! March 31, 2019

Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash

#MyWhitePrivilege was trending on Twitter over this past weekend. People love their hashtags. Especially if that means we can virtue signal and shed our white tears. Such a hashtag trend misses the entire point, and from my point of view, only grants more space to whiteness.

Doesn’t this kind of miss the whole damn point of recognizing white privilege? Awareness (for me) means that you don’t continue to contribute to whiteness, willingly. Also, a hashtag really doesn’t do anything to create the actual discussions that are crucial for interrupting racism.

Trigger Warning!

This post is not for the faint of heart. There is no safe space here. I am going to challenge you to really take another look at what your actions (tweeting) are really saying. Because, whether we want to accept it or not, as Willie Jennings stated, “How whiteness feels is how whiteness thinks.”

Whiteness feels comfortable and so we think that somehow, it’s comforting to tweet out all the ways in which we benefited from our white privilege, in 280 characters or less.

White Comfort

Social media is indeed an instant universe that allows us to share information at lightning speed. There is great potential in the ability to exchange insta-information, but rarely do we utilize the tools at our disposal for the best of intentions.

Instead of creating space to have real discussions with people who are not inside our direct circle; we utilize trends so that we can continue in our comfort, with as little inconvenience as possible. The social-media space provides for us an additional blanket to cozy-up in, so our comfort is not compromised.

We feel like we are actually doing something- changing something- when we tweet out or share anything that speaks to the nature of living an anti-racist lifestyle. The thing is, unless we are putting that practice into play in our daily lives, we are merely just virtue-signaling: “Look at me, I am woke, I am aware of my white privilege and if you tweet like me, you too, will look woke!”

Actions speak louder than words (and tweets), 1 John 3:18 reiterates this notion:

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Hashtags and Aversive Racism

From my point of view, hashtag trends like this only perpetuate aversive racism.

Briefly, aversive racism is a “form of contemporary racism that manifests at the individual level”, In an indirect and subtle way, it operates unconsciously. It’s a denial of personal prejudice. For many (especially those of us that lean more left), it manifests when we are challenged to reexamine ourselves and critically evaluate whether or not our intention is having the impact that we meant for it to have.

Aversive racism only adds more bricks to the wall that we use to separate ourselves from the obvious racists. It allows us to think that statements such as: “My brother-in-law is black, so I cannot be racist” is actually a qualifying exemption from the assignment of the term racist. It does little to demonstrate curiosity to learn more about why one would think otherwise.

Sleep Woking

It is often assumed that if you vote toward the Left, you automatically fall into the category of “wokeness”. Which means for many, that our allegiance to a party already speaks for itself. These methods we use to label ourselves are sneaky little tools that we grasp onto so that we can exclude ourselves from the very necessary practice of being conscious to racism. But racism is complex and we woke folks just aren’t as invested.

Essentially, we believe we are woke enough already. The thought that we still have much to learn makes us feel inadequate. But, as fellow Patheos blogger Dr. Samatha Kline points out:

These individuals are so deep they are stuck.
So woke that they are asleep.
They are sleep woking.
And they do not even realize it.
We need to talk about it ’cause staying woke has issues.

When it comes to talking about race, sleep woke people’s approaches can work on par with people who maintain racism and White supremacists. I place it under the category of social justice hypocrisy. Different motives. Similar emotional and behavioral patterns.
Let’s take a closer look. Both:

  • Are avid know-it-alls, have self-righteous faux humility, and struggle with how to engage and sustain substantive dialogue with differing views.
  • Restrict their critical thinking to examining the wrongs of the Other, thus ignoring the complexity of humanity.
  • Are easily triggered and gifted in the art of reacting online and offline, without listening, reading, and reflecting.
  • Both construct a narrow vision of the world and attempt to police people who do not share it.
  • Both can regurgitate their respective believes and ideologies. Neither have made time to question them. Questioning is the job of the Other.
  • Both thrive off of bandwagons and mob tactics. These individuals get loud and draw a crowd.

Staying woke- being aware of our white privilege- requires not only an ongoing education, but also an ongoing self-examination.

Good Intentions Require Introspection

Hashtags come with good intentions. I see that. The intent is to bring awareness to something that most of us take for granted. For those not ready to hear the truth about white privilege; this hashtag only granted them a stage to mock the idea that white privilege is even a relevant topic. I beg to differ, but we will save that for another time.

But before we jump on the woke-wagon; can we pause and critically evaluate the urge to shed our white tears? Here I would like to defer to Robin Diangelo, author of White Fragility- Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism; she succinctly explains how (and why) white tears effectively do nothing. She writes:

If we whites want to interrupt this system [of white supremacy], we have to get racially uncomfortable and be willing to examine the effects of our racial engagement. This includes not indulging in whatever reactions we have- anger, defensiveness, self-pity, and so forth- in a given cross-racial encounter without first reflecting on what is driving our reactions and how they will affect other people.

Tears that are driven  by white guilt are self-indulgent. When we are mired in guilt, we are narcissistic and ineffective; guilt functions as an excuse for inaction.

Our desire to want to participate with a trending hashtag movement doesn’t deliver any true results that can be observed by the very people we claim to be standing up for. It’s inauthentic, mainly so, because for many, it took a hashtag movement for one to even realize that they had been an active participant in the system. Beyond that, what else does it actually do to stop police brutality, racist jokes exchanged in the office, or dinner discussions that place blame on People of Color?

Awareness is crucial and I applaud the efforts, but can we back it up with some continuing education?

Rolling Your Eyes Doesn’t Interrupt Racism

In our efforts to bring awareness to the masses; we utilize social media and we participate in protests. Beyond that, many of us prefer the comfort of our white solidarity. Many of us also fail to even pick up on subtle demonstrations of racial prejudice. And if we are called out on it- if someone is willing to confront us on it- we deflect and defend.

We say things like: “I read White Fragility, I know what racism looks like.”; “If you hang around my wall long enough, you’ll know that I call out such racist BS regularly. You’ll also know that I’m continually barraged with such nonsense and can’t be expected to always notice every single racist undertone being made. To be perfectly honest, I rolled my eyes so hard [at the racist comment].”

Instead, we should be greeting confrontations with gratitude. Of course we don’t always notice every racial undertone being made, but that doesn’t mean we are exempt from feedback, especially if it’s delivered with compassion. We are all still swimming in our white water and still in need of a filtration system. We are still thinking in whiteness.

Interrupt Privilege-Protecting Comfort

When we are truly interrupting racism, we have to strip down and remove the robes of our protection. And that’s going to feel uncomfortable. It’s going to feel as if you are naked and exposed. Our ego is going to fight against this disrobing with every ounce of energy it can muster up.

Even us woke white folks have blind spots. Although we may believe we had all the education we need; that’s simply just a lie our ego tells us so we can feel confident with all we know. We can read all the books and watch all of the lectures given by Ibram X. Kendi, Michelle Alexander, and Robin Diangelo; but we cannot possibly understand the entirety of racism from our white perspective.

Going Forward

We have to come from an authentic and vulnerable place. We have to be willing to accept the criticisms of our missteps and continue to stretch our worldview. When we are confronted, we have to work hard at putting the ego aside to hear the message.

Interrupting racism includes interrupting our own patterns of behavior which includes being more conscious and aware of coded language, too.

Interrupting our privilege-protecting comfort means that we are building the capacity to endure discomfort. That means that we take responsibility for our initial desire to want to defend ourselves, and ask ourselves: What does this say about me?

Going from there, we adjust, develop resiliency, and realize that confronting and interrupting racism isn’t about how one personally feels about the way the message was sent, but more so about the message overall and what we can learn from it.

If we are not willing to accept the message that we may have miss-stepped, we aren’t going to grow our awareness to our privilege. We don’t want to stunt ourselves from the evolution that is necessary to actually lead anti-racist lives.

 

 

 

 

About Danielle Kingstrom
Danielle Kingstrom is an author, podcaster, and home-school teacher. She cohosts the podcast: Book Ish- The Canon Continues. She lives in Minnesota, with her husband Cory, and their five children. You can read more about the author here.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Howard

    I don’t get it. Would you mind elaborating???

  • Howard

    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/daniellekingstrom/2019/03/mywhiteprivilege-misses-the-whole-damn-point/#disqus_thread
    “Trigger Warning!
    This post is not for the faint of heart.”

    ————————————————-

    In my unequivocally-staunch and informed view —the post at the link above and below — represents an excellent, excellent (very excellent) characterization and description of overall behavior on the part of the overwhelming majority of so-called “woke white, anti-racist allies” in Rochester, NY, and I’m certain, throughout this thoroughly racist, white-supremacist-based nation-state (in every direction — North, East, South, and West). IF THIS WAS NOT THE CASE — SIGNIFICANT, CONCRETE, MEASURABLE, ANTI-RACIST CHANGE AND IMPROVEMENT, WHICH SO MANY CLAIM TO WANT — WOULD HAVE ALREADY HAPPENED (AT LEAST ON A MUCH, MUCH LARGER SCALE THAN IT HAS ) — PERIOD.

    One of the most profound assertions articulated via the above referenced post is the assertion that white folks, especially if they have the audacity to view themselves as authentic,”woke,” anti-racist allies, need desperately to “develop resiliency, and realize that confronting and interrupting racism isn’t about how one personally feels about the way the message was sent.”

    Additionally — as good as the post is — it also contains fundamental flaws:

    1) The whole super-liberal; steeped-in-denial-concept of so-called “blind spots” needs desperately to be interrogated. My experience, and I’m certain that of many, many Black folks, has been — not only do — “even [y’all] woke white folks have [so-called] “blind spots,” but many, if not most of you, are as thoroughly-blind as you could possibly be. So, in many, if not most cases, it’s NOT just about so-called “blind spots,” but instead, is about total blindness — “even [and many times, especially when you THINK you’re so-called] woke.”

    2) Superficially, it sounds good, (very good) that white folks “don’t want to stunt [yourselves] from the evolution that is necessary to actually lead anti-racist lives.” However, if we examine this fundamentally flawed idea — we know that no one within a thoroughly racist, white-supremacist-based society, such as the granddaddy of them all (this one) can possibly so-called “lead anti-racist lives” unless, and until the Tripartite Beast and Illness (http://minorityreporter.net/the-tripartite-beast-and-illness-of-individual-institutional-and-structural-racism/ ) is, if not completely destroyed, at least, thoroughly arrested to the extent that it has little or no potency relative to the rules, regulations, policies, practices, procedures and laws that guide and governs each and every major institution within this thoroughly racist, white-supremacist-based nation-state. And if this is to be done — then of course — so-called “woke,” authentic, anti-racist, white allies will necessarily have to be willing and able to help confront and wrestle POWER away from their white, racist, friends, neighbors, uncles, aunts, cousins, parents, grandparents, etc… relative to actions and/or inactions these groups are engaged, or not engaged in, which guarantees constant reinforcement and ongoing perpetuation of the beast. All else is merely super-liberal, hyper rhetoric and noise — period.

    Lastly, since white folks “should be greeting confrontations with gratitude” — TALK BACK TO ME.

    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/daniellekingstrom/2019/03/mywhiteprivilege-misses-the-whole-damn-point/#disqus_thread

  • L.A. Brown

    I don’t need to authenticate “white privilege” … it is a fact of life in the US and in fact, just calling it “white privilege” is an understatement as more often than not it has represented not just privilege, but a free pass, carte blanche to do virtually anything including break laws. Having said that, the damage of the past is done and we must now find solutions that benefit all for the future. I support continued affirmative action as the only real “reparation possible”. “40 acres and a Mule” is not likely forthcoming and now the real question is how do we create a society that truly provides “equal protection under the law”. I feel sorry for white men who question “white privilege” because to me that means they are insecure about being men at all.

  • Danielle Kingstrom

    Thank you so much for your invaluable insights! I really appreciate the additional information you shared.
    How can we connect on social media? I feel as though there is much you could share with me.

  • Howard

    I’m not sure I’m following your arguments:

    1) Even though “…the damage of the past is [so-called] done” — the damage clearly has not ended. That is to say, manifestations and cumulative residuals of so-called “past” damage is clearly evident and manifests daily, hourly, minute-by-minute, and second-by-second. In order to clearly understand my lalter assertion, all we have to do is examine any major area of life (comparatively), e.g., education, employment, home ownership, wealth accumulation, etc…, etc…etc… .

    2) So-called “creating a society that truly provides equal protection under the law,” and “finding solutions that benefit all for the future,” is one thing, but that’s NOT the same as addressing/ compensating/resolving the very real, concrete, significant, measurable, outcomes, affects, effects, discrepancies, inequities, etc…, which result from past, centuries-old SYSTEMATIC oppression, discrimination, exploitation, dehumanization, and every other kind of “ation” you can name. THESE TWO VERY RELATED, YET DIFFERENT, CATEGORIES OF REALITY MUST NEVER BE VIEWED AS BEING MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. BOTH MUST BE DONE (OTHERWISE JUSTICE WILL NOT, CANNOT BE REAL) — PERIOD.

    Lastly, not that it’s all that important — you don’t have to explain it, but the idea does NOT make sense to me that — you “feel sorry for white men who question white privilege because to [you] that means they are insecure about being men.” I don’t get it, but then I don’t need to (just an observation — that’s all). However, I would ask — does the same hold true for white women “who question white privilege???”

  • It’s comforting to see that regressives have Pharisees, too.

  • Howard

    It would be good if you would allow comments on you Facebook page, e.g. change the settings. That might help with providing another platform where “white folks [can] greet confrontations with gratitude.”

  • Danielle Kingstrom

    I don’t follow. Could you please explain?

  • Pharisees in the Gospels spent their time inventing new sins and eventually making it impossible to avoid sin. Regressive Pharisees have made it impossible to avoid the sin of racism by making every activity evidence of it. If you’re white every breath is racist.

  • So, how would you counter such an extreme swing of the pendulum?

  • BTW, we have them in the evangelicals group too. They spend all of their time dreaming up new ways to make us feel guilty.

  • Ron Swaren

    “Even us woke white folks have blind spots.”

    So, this is the new holier-than-thou attitude?

  • John Anthony

    Good evening Otto, I am a little dismayed at your response. Why should someone uproot their lives and move to another continent because you are uncomfortable. I also noted here that you appear to never have responded to Howard’s comment which while dismaying is not surprising.

  • John Anthony

    Good evening Roger would you mind elaborating further please. because neither answer you gave here, no one said your breathing is racist. I did not read that anywhere in the article. Being a person of color myself I have see white privilege in action and practice. What is truly mind boggling is that there are some even in the church who would deny its existence. What is sad that they do so ignorantly. Tell me sir do you know any people of color? Have you imitated Christ in sitting down with them and learned of their experiences? Have you wept with them at the mistreatment they suffer? Have you rejoiced with them, when they actually achieve a sibilance of justice. Have you dismissed every police shooting as justified, even the shooting of Tamir Rice when the child of 12 was shot in less than thirty seconds? I am just curious as to your stance sir, and you elaborate please?

  • Not at all. I am sorry I gave that impression. I wonder how I could have addressed that particular topic in a way that did not make you think that was my intention?
    Perhaps I should have added a caveat: That I don’t consider myself “woke” by any means. Quite the contrary! I know that my eyes have opened, but that doesn’t mean I am awake. I have much to learn and because I understand that racism as a system is a fecund term, I know that despite how much I push myself to discover, there is so much left to be discovered. My mind can only register and process so much, and is limited, both by experience and ability.
    I will never truly understand- as a lived experience- what it is like to be not-white. But I want to understand it as best I can. For me, understanding is what leads to connection and connection is the ultimate goal in life, for me. To connect to as many people as I can- near and far.
    “Even us woke white folks have blind spots” was a call to those who do call themselves “woke” who are white. I am not a fan of the term, I think it gets used improperly by many. That was more or less a sarcastic dig towards those white folks who do call themselves “woke” or sport “woke AF” tee-shirts.
    I apologize for not being more clear. I will work on that. Thank you for pointing that out to me.