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Thu Sep 17, 2015, 02:02 PM

White People Explain Why They Feel Oppressed

....

Modern white Americans are one of the most powerful groups of people to ever exist on this planet and yet those very people—or, if you're white, you people—staunchly believe that the primary victims of modern racism are whites. We see this in poll after poll. A recent one by the Public Religion Research Institute found 52 percent of whites agreed, "Today discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities." A 2011 study led by a Harvard Business School professor went deeper to find that "whites see race as a zero sum game they are losing." That was even the name of the study.It showed that over the last five decades both blacks and whites think racism against Blacks has been slowly declining, but white people think racism against whites is growing at a fast rate. White people are increasingly certain that they're being persecuted. The study also notes, "by any metric—employment, police treatment, loan rates, education—stats indicate drastically poorer outcomes for black than white Americans." White perception and the reality are completely at odds.

Why is it that some white people feel like they are the primary victims of racism? And why do they feel like giving any bit of liberty to black Americans means they are losing something? And why should I be an unpaid armchair psychiatrist interpreting the feelings of white people when I could just ask them? I mean, they're all over the place and available for study in their natural habitat. So I did my own unscientific poll, asking several white people to help me understand white people. Based off the responses, I found three primary explanations for why so many white folks feel like they are the true victims in America today.

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For some white people, whiteness seems less economically valuable than it was decades ago. It's as if w­hite privilege doesn't take you as far these days in the same way that a dollar doesn't go as far as it did in your grandpa's time. Back in the Mad Men-era, if a white man showed up, he got a good job that let him take care of his family. No more, they say. But understanding the reasons behind that are hard. A woman who asked not to be named said, "Being a reasonably hard working white male no longer entitles you to respect or a middle class lifestyle. This has mostly to do with structural economic dynamics including increased competition globally and the decline of unions, but it's a lot simpler to blame it on the black person or Hispanic person who got the job that you think was supposed to be yours."

Jon Dariyanani, co-founder of a software start-up called Cognotion, echoed that sentiment. "It's much easier to believe that the reason the middle class life is slipping away from you is because some lazy group of people are soaking up resources and blocking the way, than to believe that it is caused by globalization and bad macroeconomic policy beyond any individual's control. 'Anti-white' racism relies on an economic anxiety that is almost entirely a fantasy."

....

Some of the white people I talked with feel like many white people lack of a deep understanding of race and racism. Tim Wise said, "Whites are used to thinking of racism as an interpersonal thing, rather than institutional. So we can recall that time we got shitty customer service by a black person, or had some black person make fun of us for something, and we think, 'we're the victims of racism now,' paying no attention to the ongoing systemic imbalance in our favor." This is in part because the nature of privilege is that you don't have to think deeply about your privilege if you don't want to.

....

Calling yourself color-blind is not progress—it's insulting.

I am not urging white people to feel guilty, I'm saying be more honest. As we move toward a nation where white people are less dominant, it will be critical that white people stop being racial ostriches, or sleepwalkers, and deal forthrightly with what it means to be white. Many white people say they have a strong desire to not discuss race because there's a chance they could make a mistake and end up somehow looking racist. But a lack of discussion about race leads to a lack of sophistication about race.

....

Vice

33 replies, 6303 views

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Arrow 33 replies Author Time Post
Reply White People Explain Why They Feel Oppressed (Original post)
Capt. Obvious Sep 2015 OP
Egnever Sep 2015 #1
Capt. Obvious Sep 2015 #2
Egnever Sep 2015 #3
Capt. Obvious Sep 2015 #4
Lars39 Sep 2015 #8
alcibiades_mystery Sep 2015 #14
Egnever Sep 2015 #15
MineralMan Sep 2015 #5
FuzzyRabbit Sep 2015 #6
Garrett78 Sep 2015 #7
Number23 Sep 2015 #9
Garrett78 Sep 2015 #22
Number23 Sep 2015 #28
steve2470 Sep 2015 #33
Scuba Sep 2015 #10
Dont call me Shirley Sep 2015 #11
KyleMcShades Sep 2015 #12
betsuni Sep 2015 #13
JustAnotherGen Sep 2015 #19
Capt. Obvious Sep 2015 #21
KyleMcShades Sep 2015 #25
Garrett78 Sep 2015 #27
Waiting For Everyman Sep 2015 #16
Gormy Cuss Sep 2015 #24
Nevernose Sep 2015 #29
Gormy Cuss Sep 2015 #30
oberliner Sep 2015 #17
eridani Sep 2015 #18
romanic Sep 2015 #20
Cali_Democrat Sep 2015 #23
HassleCat Sep 2015 #26
MisterP Sep 2015 #31
quaker bill Sep 2015 #32

Response to Capt. Obvious (Original post)

Thu Sep 17, 2015, 02:22 PM

1. Anyone who ever thought they would

 

Anyone who ever thought they would get a good job because they were white was and remains a complete moron.

I would love to know where this vast population of white folks that think they get jobs because they are white come from.

I don't know about other white people but i was always taught it was hard work and preparation that got you the job you wanted.

The idea that people think they are due a job because they are white sounds like utter fantasy made up by someone who isn't white to make themselves feel better.

There is no question there is plenty of racism out there but these wild accusations that people think they are owed a job because they are white sound like nonsense to me.

Getting a job has always been a competition , you have to be the best candidate for the job. Now if you want to say white people are more likely to be hired than equally qualified people of color I am completely on board.

You lose me when you start pretending white people think they are owed a good job because they are white.

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Response to Egnever (Reply #1)

Thu Sep 17, 2015, 02:23 PM

2. LOL!!!!!!!

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Response to Capt. Obvious (Reply #2)

Thu Sep 17, 2015, 02:26 PM

3. Yea that was my reaction to the article as well

 

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Response to Egnever (Reply #3)

Thu Sep 17, 2015, 02:28 PM

4. No it wasn't

Your reaction was pretty much what the article was about.

You went through all that trouble to type it out.

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Response to Egnever (Reply #1)

Thu Sep 17, 2015, 04:15 PM

8. My SIL is one, and I've come across her attitude quite a bit.

She was outraged that she was interviewed with a group of black women, especially after the woman interviewing her apologized and explained that the company had to at least go through the motions of interviewing them, but that none of the black women would ever be hired.

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Response to Egnever (Reply #1)

Thu Sep 17, 2015, 11:55 PM

14. People get jobs because they're white all the time

 

White people consistently DENY that they are owed jobs because they are white. They also consistently deny all the other effects of whiteness by which they "won" the "competition." There is no white myth more potent than that of the "best candidate for the job." Surwe, yes, of course, but the whole society is structured to make the people who already have money and power both appear to be and actually be in many cases "the best candidate." If you erase all that, then it appears that the best candidate "won" for being the best. No. The best candidate "won" because of the class and race and gender into which that candidate was born, in the vast, vast , vast majority of cases.

People get jobs because they're white all the fucking time. It's actually the ferocity with which they deny that fact that constitutes a major element of white supremacy.

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Response to alcibiades_mystery (Reply #14)

Fri Sep 18, 2015, 12:52 AM

15. Getting jobs because you are white is completely different

 

Than thinking you are owed a job because you are white.

I do not for a second deny the fact that in a situation where both candidates are equal the vast majority of the time the white guy will get the job. A big reason for this is people tend to hire people like themselves and an overwhelming majority of people in the position to do the hiring are white.

There have been plenty of studies on this and the same pattern is repeated over and over. It is part of human nature and hard to overcome even when the people who are doing the hiring are trying to be conscious of it.

The demographics are changing quickly however and with any luck it wont be much longer before the people doing the hiring won't be so heavily dominated by white people. The problem won't go away, it will just shift. I think diversity is important and sadly hard to come by in any hiring space because of peoples internal bias towards hiring hiring people like themselves.

Sadly it is something that is near impossible to break free of, it is the way we are wired.

There will always be hiring bias, that doesn't mean white people think they are owed jobs because they are white. Some white people likely do because they are knuckle dragging neanderthals But in all my years of being a white guy I have never heard another white person say they were entitled to a job because they are white which is what the article is suggesting as some sort of widespread belief.

I have heard white people complain that they weren't hired because of affirmative action giving the job to the POC instead of them. Personally every time I hear that I think it is much more likely it was because the person who said it was an ass than it was affirmative action. I also think if it was true too fucking bad go down the street and try again at the next place. Because as I said above the people doing the hiring tend to hire people like themselves and there's a whole lot more white folks doing the hiring than there are people of color. The tables aren't equal. The white person has the advantage in the hiring process the majority of the time.

All of that said the idea that there are a large swath of white people who think they are owed jobs because they are white is fucking nonsense.


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Response to Capt. Obvious (Original post)

Thu Sep 17, 2015, 02:30 PM

5. Oh, for pete's sake! White people as an entire group

are not oppressed. What bullshit! Lazy-ass, stupid white people can't get a decent job, but then, they never really could.

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Response to Capt. Obvious (Original post)

Thu Sep 17, 2015, 03:24 PM

6. So true. Some whites think they are the truly oppressed.

This is a true story.

A white male I knew got a job working for the Seattle Public Library a few years ago, at the Queen Anne branch. About two weeks after he started working there, he heard about a supervisor position opening up, so he applied for the job. The job was offered to a middle aged black woman who had worked there for six years.

So my acquaintance complained that the reason he did not get the supervisors job was that he was discriminated against because he is white and she is black.

I pointed out that she had six years experience working there while he had only two weeks, and his reply is that she is black and he is white, and that alone is proof of discrimination against white people.

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Response to Capt. Obvious (Original post)

Thu Sep 17, 2015, 03:54 PM

7. It's even worse than the persecuted Christian.

Tim Wise has written a number of books and articles that truly ought to be required reading for white folks. He's pointed out, in this interview for instance, that even in the early 1960s a vast majority of white people (80+%) thought black folks were treated the same as white folks and that black kids had the same educational opportunities as white kids. Ponder that for a moment as you recall the iconic images of fire hoses and barking dogs.

You can't get much more delusional than that, or so one might think...until you read what so many white folks have to say today about institutional racism and white privilege, and so-called "reverse racism." I couldn't take it any longer and was happy to discover that a group dedicated to addressing white privilege has recently started in the town where I live. I know that in Seattle a similar organization is more well-established, and could help those of you who are interested start something similar where you live. Here's a link to the organization's site: http://carw.org/. And you can seek out the nearest chapter of the NAACP and become a member, which is what I did and how I found out about the Racial Justice Organizing Committee in my area.

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Response to Garrett78 (Reply #7)

Thu Sep 17, 2015, 05:34 PM

9. "a group dedicated to addressing white privilege has recently started in the town where I live"

Best of luck to you, that group, your town and the absolutely HERCULEAN task you have chosen to undertake.

God speed to you all. Seriously.

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Response to Number23 (Reply #9)

Fri Sep 18, 2015, 01:18 PM

22. Thanks.

It's clear that even many white liberals (never mind white right wingers) don't grasp the nature of white privilege. And many don't get that institutionalized/structural racism of the past continues to impact the present. Not to mention the impact of present day institutionalized racism.

They like to use a term like "color blind" as if anyone honestly doesn't see color, as if implicit bias tests haven't shown beyond a reasonable doubt that skin color infiltrates the subconscious. What "color blindness" amounts to is a blindness to the reality faced by persons of color--so, color blindness is not a helpful notion.

And then there are those who think economics or class are all that matter, ignoring the fact that wealthy persons of color are mistreated more than poor white folks. Economic inequality should be addressed, but racial injustice must be addressed as a separate issue, because it is a separate issue.

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Response to Garrett78 (Reply #22)

Fri Sep 18, 2015, 08:22 PM

28. I love this post so much I want to drizzle it in chocolate and eat it like a cookie

Every single word that you've said is the God's honest truth and is something that the vast majority of people of color have been saying, have been SCREAMING for decades.

Thank you. For fucking getting it, thank you.

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Response to Garrett78 (Reply #22)

Sat Sep 19, 2015, 06:18 AM

33. yep you nailed it

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Response to Capt. Obvious (Original post)

Thu Sep 17, 2015, 06:33 PM

10. OFFS

 

I know damned well being white kept me out of jail at least a couple times. I've no idea how many other times it helped me with loans, jobs, etc., but I'll bet it was more than a few.

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Response to Capt. Obvious (Original post)

Thu Sep 17, 2015, 06:39 PM

11. It's oppression when you get to have what I get to have...

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Response to Capt. Obvious (Original post)

Thu Sep 17, 2015, 09:18 PM

12. Great article.

Avoid the comment section. Pretty vile stuff.

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Response to KyleMcShades (Reply #12)

Thu Sep 17, 2015, 11:46 PM

13. Like the horror movie character who goes into the basement after being warned

not to go into the basement, I went into the comment section after being warned not to. I have only myself to blame.

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Response to betsuni (Reply #13)

Fri Sep 18, 2015, 07:20 AM

19. You never would have survived

Freddie Krueger!

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Response to KyleMcShades (Reply #12)

Fri Sep 18, 2015, 08:57 AM

21. Yeah, some of the comments on this DU thread are disappointing.

Not surprising though.

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Response to Capt. Obvious (Reply #21)

Fri Sep 18, 2015, 03:55 PM

25. Was referring to the comments on the article's page but

but you are absolutely right. Looking through the comments here again, it's a reminder that a progressive forum is not always a safe haven against the ugliness expressed in the comments I was originally referring to! Very disappointing indeed.

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Response to KyleMcShades (Reply #25)

Fri Sep 18, 2015, 06:45 PM

27. White liberals and millennials.

It's also disappointing, though not all that surprising, that millennials aren't as anti-racist or aware of white privilege as we might like to believe. Here are 2 pieces on that topic:

1) http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/03/millenials-race-115909_full.html#.VfySs8oS1z3

2) http://www.npr.org/2015/06/22/416390022/is-the-racial-tolerance-of-the-millennial-generation-overstated

That said, white liberals and millennials still represent the most teachable/reachable subsets of white folks.

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Response to Capt. Obvious (Original post)

Fri Sep 18, 2015, 04:55 AM

16. There are laws against institutional or systemic bias.

Yet the statement is constantly made that systemic racism exists. So then what is being done about it? Where are the black and PoC lawyers bringing the cases challenging this institutionally racist behavior? As long as the phenomenon of institutional racism exists, the cases need to keep coming. That is how wrongs are righted under our system of government.

Why is it suddenly now up to white people to be all introspective and soul-seaarching in order to make progress in civil rights, when it has never been done that way before and there's no reason to expect that it would make any difference?

PoC keep asking why whites are not engaging in the race discussions. It isn't hard to figure out: 1) it's being framed in a very hostile, aggressive manner on premises that most whites disagree with, carry on doing that but don't expect a response; and 2) whites are being told they aren't needed, their past assistance in the effort counts for nothing, and to shut up and keep out of the way, so they are saying to themselves "fine, no problem" and they are doing just that. Who wouldn't?

Don't expect a different response until the message is different.

Additionally, as was noted in the article, white people don't think about race 1/10 as much as PoC do, in fact hardly at all. Yes, that's because they don't have to, but saying that ignores the fact of it. It isn't big on their list of issues. Now. The intersecting point between issues of all races is classism which includes (in addition to economic justice which is serious for all races) similar mistreatment of poor whites by some of the same institutions in the same ways (maybe not to the same numerical degree). That is where the bridge exists, classism. If PoC don't want to go there, fine. But don't expect motivation where none exists. Simply lamenting the fact that it doesn't exist and pointing more fingers, and making up off-base reasons for it is just an exercise in make believe.

PoC are always saying that white people shouldn't speak for them, and that is entirely reasonable. But then those same PoC, like the OP writer, turn right around and assume the right to speak for white people, and don't notice or don't care that they're engaging in another double standard. Comments like whites are afraid, they feel guilty, they feel reverse-oppressed, blah, blah, blah, are all this kind of thing... and it goes on constantly. Ascribing motives to other people on the other side of your argument is dishonest in a basic way. Don't expect that convo to go anywhere either.

There is a principle in law called "clean hands" which means that when a person comes to the law to seek justice, they shouldn't be guilty of wrongdoing themselves. "Clean hands" is what is entirely missing from the discussion of race as it is usually framed today, and that's what has changed since the 1960's, and that is a great deal of the problem.

It is not about justice inclusively for all anymore as in the 1960's, it is about self-serving deliberately excluding all but oneself and one's group regardless of collateral injustice to oppressed others. You can argue about how righteous that is all you want, but it won't motivate people to join your cause (not more than a small number anyway).

I also don't feel any need to address the wrongs of the past. It's the wrongs of today that matter. Just as adults can't go back and get what they feel they missed in childhood, so it is just as unrealistic to bring up wrongs that were done 200, 300, or 400 years ago. Those people are gone, and only a small percentage engaged in slavery anyway (as my ancestors did not). Plus, the people who were wronged by it are dead, not those living today. What we can do today is have a level playing field and an effective safety net, with the same access to everyone. Some may disagree, but that is my point of view and a lot of whites agree with me. As a matter of fact, it's what's known as the American way, because it's what our system of government is intended to be. I'm just trying to be informative as a white person on this issue, I've been told that is what's wanted, so we'll see if that's true.

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Response to Waiting For Everyman (Reply #16)

Fri Sep 18, 2015, 01:27 PM

24. Here's the real reason more whites aren't engaged in race discussions:

Last edited Fri Sep 18, 2015, 08:23 PM - Edit history (1)

Recognizing privilege is the first step. The next step is ceding that privilege. It's that second step that makes people defensive and irrational in their response to the charge of privilege.

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Response to Gormy Cuss (Reply #24)

Fri Sep 18, 2015, 08:32 PM

29. What do you mean by "ceding the privilege?"

I totally get white privilege, but wouldn't it be better if, for instance, we asked law enforcement to stop sending so many black men to prison? Because "ceding the privilege" implies that the solution to minority incarceration rates is to send more white people to jail. Am I explaining this well? Can you see where Im going with this?

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Response to Nevernose (Reply #29)

Fri Sep 18, 2015, 08:41 PM

30. By ceding the privilege I mean being willing to give up the advantages

and not to work against people trying to level the playing field.

In terms of law enforcement it means understanding why stops, arrests, and incarceration rates differ and working to institute changes to mitigate uneven treatment.

So yes, in a twisted outcome more white people could end up in jail if whites were handled the same harsher way as POCs are now. A more likely scenario though is that POCs would be treated with a less harsh hand by LEOs and the courts.

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Response to Capt. Obvious (Original post)

Fri Sep 18, 2015, 05:40 AM

17. "Calling yourself color-blind is not progress—it's insulting"

 

Do folks agree with that sentiment?

Don't people who say they are "color-blind" just mean that they try to judge someone not by the color of their skin by the content of their character, as exhorted to do by MLK many years ago?

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Response to Capt. Obvious (Original post)

Fri Sep 18, 2015, 05:56 AM

18. If you are poor, you are oppressed, regardless of color

The 99% aren't getting shit, and people of color are at the bottom of that pile too. Don't know what white people get out of denying that.

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Response to Capt. Obvious (Original post)

Fri Sep 18, 2015, 07:25 AM

20. Vice, Tim Wise...ehhh

But the point should be this: Whites cannot be systematically oppressed because whites are still a majority who benefit from a system that caters to them over others. End of.

That's not to say that white people can't be discriminated against on an individual basis; and poor whites are still SOL in the eyes of 1%. I think this article kind of paints white people as being shielded from any kind of discrimination which to me doesn't add to any kind of Race conversation. JMHO.

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Response to romanic (Reply #20)

Fri Sep 18, 2015, 01:25 PM

23. White people are easily brainwashed it seems, especially white males.

 

That's why so many vote Republican.

90% of Romney's voters were white.

The GOP is becoming the party of angry white people, but unfortunately for them whites are becoming a smaller share of the voting population so for them it will be like pissing in the wind.

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Response to Capt. Obvious (Original post)

Fri Sep 18, 2015, 04:03 PM

26. Key phrase is in your post

 

"Zero sum game." White people think allowing black people to have something denies it to them. This is from the days when Jim Crow laws and such really did make it a zero sum game. Black people could not belong to many unions because whites wanted those spots. Black children had to attend crumbling schools because the money was reserved for white schools. And so on. Many white people look at affirmative action and think, "That black woman got my job." And they would have been correct 60 years ago. The good stuff was reserved for white people, and they just assume it's the same thing in reverse.

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Response to Capt. Obvious (Original post)

Fri Sep 18, 2015, 11:15 PM

31. interestingly "Whites" might not be on the way out since most racewatchers (is that a word?

it sounds ooky) agree that lighter-skinned Latinos will be readily incorporated to keep "Whites" as a majority, provided they keep "punching downward": same happened with the un-American Irish

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Response to Capt. Obvious (Original post)

Sat Sep 19, 2015, 05:44 AM

32. Most all of us are oppressed

White people certainly a bit less so than those who are black or brown. We have had nearly 40 years of conservative economics, all but non stop.

The rich have never been richer and the rest of us proportionately have rarely had to work longer for a smaller slice of the pie. Every year the management brain trust comes up with a new thumbscrew of some sort to squeeze a bit more work from us for the same money.

Decent jobs that pay a living wage for folks of modest intellectual means are gone.

A battle over who is the most oppressed among us is at some level is simply a distraction to keep us fighting among ourselves as opposed to taxing or jailing the oppressors.

Sure there are issues of race bias, yes mass incarceration is a huge problem, and black lives do matter. However, until we stop arguing over who has the better s**t sandwich and start to focus in a united way on those doling them out, no progress will be made.

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