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YouthSpeaksOut! is an hour long public affairs show in Mendocino County, CA. This Sunday's show had hosts from Ukiah High School talk about White Privilege and Racism. 59 minutes
Today's show was hosted by Ukiah High School students. The topic was White Privilege." The hosts were a 9th grade girl of European descent and 11th and 12th grade young men of North American descent. They spoke clearly and honestly about their experiences of racial differences in their lives. They expressed their understanding of white privilege and noted several times that they are members of a less racist generation in American history. All callers appreciated the students presentation, though several men disputed the concept of white privilege. It was a really good show.
Worth hearing, and thinking about how we could reduce racism today!
INTRO December 2016
Today our topic is White Privilege. Two of us are Americans whose ancestors came from Europe, and two of us are Americans whose ancestors are indigenous to North America. Two of us might be seen as white, and two of us might be seen as brown. We were all born in the United States,
The term White Privilege refers to advantages people with white-skin experience in Western countries. The advantages include social, political, and economic benefits. These benefits are frequently unseen by most white skinned people because they are so normalized in our society.
Author Peggy McIntosh describes whites in our country as having an invisible package of unearned assets. One of these assets is that white skin color does not work negatively in terms of how people perceive ones financial responsibility, public speaking skills, or job performance. People do not assume that white people got their job or educational status as a result of affirmative action programs. And white people are less likely to have security personnel and police harass them, pull them over in a car, or follow them around a store.
White people dominate important roles on television, movies, and in the print and internet media. When people study national heritage or the ascent of civilization, white people are shown to be responsible.
We are currently concluding an astonishing eight years where the United States had a non-white president. This has been an historical event. This is frequently described as signifying that America has become post-racial. If a black skinned person could become the leader of our nation, then the dreams of civil rights had been achieved. Clearly, Obamas election is evidence of large steps toward racial equality in a country where Civil Rights legislation is only 50 years old.
In 1987 Peggy McIntosh wrote an essay White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. McIntosh describes white privilege as an invisible weightless knapsack of assurances, tools, maps, guides, codebooks, passports, visas, clothes, compass, emergency gear, and blank checks." She wrote I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group. She listed 50 daily effects of white privilege- these include the ability to rent or purchase housing in any area she could afford, if she is pulled over by a traffic cop it is not because of her color, and she can do well in a challenging situation and not be called a credit to her race.
In preparing fort this show, we were given an exercise called a privilege questionnaire. The purpose of this test is to allow participants to reflect on ways that race affords privilege to some and not to others. Here is a sample question- Add three points if in most cases when you ask to speak with the person in charge you will be facing a person of your race, add one if in most cases you would not be facing a person of your race.
A survey like this was given to students in Beaverton, Oregon resulting in some parents expressing outrage, saying that it was an indoctrination program. The school defended the survey, saying it was a method of exploring social issues to gain empathy, understanding, and to build bridges. We will talk about some of these questions later.
One of the purposes of discussing white privilege is that most conversations about race focus solely on the disadvantages suffered by racial minorities. Therefore the resultant advantages given to the dominant race are overlooked. For example, white people are spared injustice if people of color are commonly stopped by police without due cause. Becoming aware of the perks of being white in this culture can help to move toward a more honest post-racial society.
The recent presidential election has seen white supremacists and white nationalists present their ideology more publicly. Their goals of preserving and protecting the white race in the United States is a growing populist movement. Under the name alt-right or alternative right the movement promotes limited government, low taxes, and strict law-and-order. They criticize multiculturalism and minority rights, which they consider political correctness. The leaders of these movements deny that racism is one of their core beliefs, however the past actions and associations of some of the leaders suggest otherwise.
Separation is the core of racism. It is easy to fear what you dont understand, whether it is a foreign language or different customs. For some, racism is a power trip, a way to get even for ones own disadvantages. We tend to stereotype people of different colors, and we stereotype ourselves.
Peggy Mcintosh recently said I believe is that everybody has a combination of unearned advantage and unearned disadvantage in life. Whiteness is just one of the many variables that one can look at, starting with, for example, ones place in the birth order, or your body type, or your athletic abilities, or your relationship to written and spoken words, or your parents places of origin, or your parents relationship to education and to English, or what is projected onto your religious or ethnic background. Were all put ahead and behind by the circumstances of our birth. We all have a combination of both. And it changes minute by minute, depending on where we are, who were seeing, or what were required to do.
What we will discuss now are our thoughts about white privilege, how we are advantaged and disadvantaged by our race. Our goal in todays show is to explore how Americans of different races can better empathize with each other, and build bridges in a society that may become more divided. We will discuss these subjects for about 40 minutes and then open the phone lines for your questions and insights. We are in the Willits studio so our phone number will be 456-9991. Well ask you to join in the discussion in about 40 minutes.
Lets begin by each describing what we have learned by studying the concept of white privilege.
Were going to open the phone lines now. The phone number is 707 456-9991. Everyone is welcome to call. Please call in if you have questions or insights about white privilege.
Do you think that having a black President has shown that America is in a post-racial state?
Do you agree that white people in America have invisible advantages because of their color?
If you are white, how have you experienced these advantages? If you are not white, where have you seen white privilege?
Has our discussion helped you to understand some of the differences various people experience in America?
Do you think that white people should feel guilty about their privileges?
Do you think that multiculturalism is a misguided attempt to promote equality?
What can you do in your life to make the world less racist, less seperated?