Sunday, July 6, 2008

Stuff White People Do

A huge portion of my Women's Studies degree consisted of examining racial issues, and I thank God that it was. I'd like to make some sort of statement connecting my lack of racial knowledge to my time spent growing up in a small town in Iowa, but that would imply that if I lived in a larger city, I would have been educated about such matters. Obviously, racism in all its various forms is an American (and global) issue that blinds everyone equally due to its pervasiveness, and that's why it's still such a problem.

Learning about race and sociology at the University completely changed how I view the world. Obviously, I still participate in the benefits of white privilege, because all white people get those whether they want them or not (which, by the way, is an important thing for all whites to recognize, lest we run around with the attitude of "I'm not racist, so therefore solving racism is about changing those other racist people"). But the thing that really gets under my skin is when people assume that racism is a dormant problem that is either already solved, or an issue that we can't do anything to change. The blog Stuff White People Do looks at the effects of white privilege from the point of view of a white dude named Macon D, in order to help people understand the ways in which they're participating in the continuation of racism.

Examples of stuff white people do:

I also found it interesting that Macon D states that his goal in producing the blog is to write explicitly about whiteness. He says that

I’ve noticed, for instance, that when I ask white individuals to talk about whiteness, about what their being white means for them, they usually have very little to say, and they eventually end up talking about non-white people instead. White Americans are usually unaccustomed to talking directly about their own whiteness, and when asked to do so, they often shift to discussing it in relation to other races, and then end up talking almost exclusively about those other people instead. ("sit quietly in movie theaters - part two")

Personally, I think the reason that the reason white scholars try to stay away from examinations of whiteness is because they don't want to appear to be reducing the discussion to a white viewpoint. As in, "even though minorities have endured centuries of enslavement and abuse, racism is really all about white people in the end." But if white people are racist, and especially if they are unknowingly so, doesn't the solution to the problem lie in getting them to recognize their behavior as racist, and then encouraging them to change it? It seems to me that instead of white people "learning" to "accept" minorities, racism should be dealt with by demonstrating to whites that they are the ones that are flawed, because they buy into the idea that minorities are "different" in the first place.

Blogs such as Stuff White People Do are so instrumental in drawing attention to the blatant privilege present in our society today. It's good to see that readers are getting all riled up in the Comments section of the posts, because it gives me hope that perhaps there are still some individuals out there who are engaged in an ongoing discussion about racism and classism, and are committed to making a change.

1 comment:

Macon D said...

Hi Shaina, thanks for the nice post, I'm honored! Do you mind if I repost your entry on my blog?
(I'll check back here, but if you want to email me about it, I'm at unmakingmacon at gmail dot com )