11 Reasons Why White Privilege Doesn’t Exist

A little humor, courtesy of McSweeney’s, at the expense of white privilege. It’s a 3-year-old article, but has aged really well.

4. I fought against a history of social stigmas and systemic biases to get to claim the tiny space I occupy.
Oh no, wait, this might be getting away from me.

5. I have been judged on name alone when applying to get my house and job.
What? That’s not a thing. Is that a thing?

6. I had my entire life plotted out in statistics before I even began making my own decisions.
Oh come on… is that… I’m just going to google for a second.

Caron, Matt. (2017, June 22. 11 Ways That I, a White Man, Am Not Privileged. McSweeney’s. https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/11-ways-that-i-a-white-man-am-not-privileged

Don’t Call Slaves “Immigrants”

Powerful piece by Dionne Ford in LitHub on equating slavery and immigration.

My parents grew up in Oklahoma and Louisiana. Their parents were from Arkansas and Mississippi. I’d been to the farm where my maternal grandpa used to grow soy and cotton and to the immaculate little house surrounded by red clay dirt where my maternal great-grandmother made fresh buttermilk biscuits in a kitchen so clean you could eat off the floor. (Cozied up under her square Formica table, I sometimes did). But I was no Alex Haley. How was I supposed to figure out how my grandparents got to these far-flung parts of the USA? When I asked my dad later that night what country in Africa he thought we came from or if there was some representative flag for the entire continent, he breathed a heavy, frustrated sigh.

“Between the Indian blood and the slave blood, we’ve been here longer than anybody. Who’s more American than us?” 

Ford, Dionne. (2017, March 31). Don’t Call Slaves “Immigrants”. Literary Hub. https://lithub.com/dont-call-slaves-immigrants/

White Americans Are Waking up to Racism

One recent afternoon, while washing his car, Greg Reese, a white stay-at-home dad in Campton, Ky., peeled off the Confederate flag magnet he had placed on its trunk six years earlier. He did not put it back on.

It was a small act for which he expected no accolades. It should not have taken the police killing of George Floyd, Mr. Reese knew, to face what he had long known to be true, that the flag he had grown up thinking of as “a beautiful trophy” was “a symbol of hate, and it’s obviously wrong to glorify it.”

Harmon, Amy, & Burch, Audra, D.S. (2020, June 22). White Americans Say They Are Waking Up to Racism. What Will It Add Up To? The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/22/us/racism-white-americans.html

It’s a start. A very long-delayed, often denied, much needed, very obvious start.

An Oxford and Harvard Education Doesn’t Stop Racism

Education and good economic standing are not enough to overcome deep, ingrained, systemic racism, as Dr. Tafadzwa Muguwe found out.

As an intern, I received a page from nursing about a belligerent elderly white patient who refused to take evening medications until he spoke to “the doctor.” I walked into the room as staff wrestled him, and the nurse identified me as the doctor who would address his concerns. The patient yelled that he did not want to be seen by a Black person and demanded I leave. I left, humiliated. Despite obvious dementia, the patient — whom I had never met — betrayed a strong visceral reaction towards me.

A patient’s prejudice can ruin my day but does not override my sense of duty towards him or her. The prejudice of a peer or authority figure, on the other hand, is more difficult to navigate.

While applying to residency, I remember huddling with classmates who were applying to the same programs. A classmate remarked that one of us would be a strong applicant because of their Ph.D., then turned in my direction and said I didn’t need to worry because I was Black. Was it incomprehensible to my peers that I could perform just as well or better than them, irrespective of my race? What do my friends think?

Muguwe, Tafadzwa. (2020, June 18). A Dual Degree From Oxford. A Medical Degree From Harvard. Neither Protected Me From Racism. WBUR. https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2020/06/18/racism-doctor-harvard-medicine-training-tafadzwa-muguwe

Tulsa’s Racial History

Particularly relevant given President Trump’s rally in TOklahoma today.

The city where President Trump will hold his first political rally in months sits on the banks of the muddy Arkansas River on land where the Cherokee, Creek and Osage nations once reigned. Tulsa has a fraught racial history that begins with the Trail of Tears in the 19th century and ends with the city’s plan to dig for possible mass graves from a 1921 race massacre. Trump’s appearance on the day after Juneteenth — when black America celebrates the end of slavery — is a reminder of that pain.

Brown, DeNeen L. (2020, June 20). Tulsa’s ugly racial history: From Trail of Tears to deadly 1921 race massacre. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2020/06/20/tulsa-timeline-race-massacre-trump-rally-juneteenth/

Foreign Policy and Racism

If the United States is going to heal its society and remain a source of inspiration abroad, it has to publicly and openly embrace self-criticism. Foreign-policy practitioners have to do what was once rare: use their platforms to speak to the American people and audiences abroad about racism and change the way the foreign-policy community operates.

Domestic racism has long undermined U.S. foreign policy. With the civil rights movement coinciding with the dawn of independence in sub-Saharan Africa, national security officials swiftly labeled segregation and racism as threats to U.S. foreign policy toward the region. As the public was to learn years later, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, noted that the situation in Little Rock, Arkansas, was “ruining our foreign policy. The effect of this in Asia and Africa will be worse for us than Hungary was for the Russians.” Officials in John F. Kennedy’s administration were even more forthright: Kennedy adviser (and, later, a senator from Pennsylvania) Harris Wofford advised that racial justice at home would “do more good in promoting good relations with Africa than anything else we can do.” It was infrequent when these sentiments were shared publicly, though Kennedy’s assistant secretary of state for African affairs (and former governor of Michigan), G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams, denounced racism as a “blight on America” in a speech at the University of Oklahoma.

Adkins, Travis L. & Devermont, Judd. (2020, June 19). The Legacy of American Racism at Home and Abroad. Foreign Policy. https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/06/19/american-racism-foreign-policy-impact/

This isn’t the first time we’ve linked to an article about how racism impacts foreign policy. Here’s Senator Chris Murphy opining on the same thing.

What Anti-Racist Teachers Do Differently

Anti-racist teachers take black students seriously. They create a curriculum with black students in mind, and they carefully read students’ work to understand what they are expressing. This might sound fairly standard, but making black students feel valued goes beyond general “good teaching.” It requires educators to view the success of black students as central to the success of their own teaching. This is a paradigm shift: Instead of only asking black students who are not doing well in class to start identifying with school, we also ask teachers whose black students are not doing well in their classes to start identifying with those students.

McKamey, Pirette. (2020, June 17). What Anti-racist Teachers Do Differently. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2020/06/how-be-anti-racist-teacher/613138/

How the Gi Bill Failed Black Veterans of WW II

Though the GI Bill guaranteed low-interest mortgages and other loans, they were not administered by the VA itself. Thus, the VA could cosign, but not actually guarantee the loans. This gave white-run financial institutions free reign to refuse mortgages and loans to black people.

Redlining—a decades-old practice of marking maps by race to characterize the risks of lending money and providing insurance—made purchasing a home even more difficult for black veterans. Lenders froze out poorer neighborhoods, ensuring that loan assistance and insurance would be denied. And new white suburbs often came with overtly racist covenants that denied entry to black people. 

In 1947, only 2 of the more than 3,200 VA-guaranteed home loans in 13 Mississippi cities went to black borrowers. “These impediments were not confined to the South,” notes historian Ira Katznelson. “In New York and the northern New Jersey suburbs, fewer than 100 of the 67,000 mortgages insured by the GI bill supported home purchases by non-whites.”

Blakemore, Erin. (2019, June 21). How the GI Bill’s Promise Was Denied to a Million Black WWII Veterans. History.com. https://www.history.com/.amp/news/gi-bill-black-wwii-veterans-benefits

A Reckoning at Condé-Nast

“It’s so hard to be a person of color at this company,” said Ryan Walker-Hartshorn, a black woman who worked as an assistant to Mr. Rapoport. “My blood is still boiling.”

She recalled a 2018 meeting of editors to discuss how to make the magazine’s Instagram account more diverse. In a room of about eight editors, three were people of color.“And we’re all very junior, no power,” Ms. Walker-Hartshorn said in an interview. “I was like, ‘You’re asking us how to make our Instagram black without hiring more black people?’”

Lee, Edmund. (2020, June 13). A Reckoning at Condé Nast. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/13/business/media/conde-nast-racial.html

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