Ten Things to Keep in Mind When Talking About How White Men are a "Problem" in the Age of Obama
Given its history, Whiteness may reasonably be viewed as something pathological, violent, unethical, immoral, dangerous, and threatening to those who are not classified as white. However, Whiteness has been enormously beneficial and lucrative to its owners. White elites certainly have benefited from it. Regular white folks, both men and women, have certainly benefited from Whiteness too.
And yes, white elites have also been able to use racism as a wedge issue to hurt the white poor by separating them from people of color with whom they may have common interests. How do these facts complicate a discussion of Whiteness as something that is "pathological?"
8. While there is a public discussion about the meaning of Whiteness in this political and social moment, we must be cautious. Racial inequality is one of the greatest social problems in the United States. Class inequality is gutting the American Dream. White elites have been central to these destructive processes. Some have tried to intervene in positive ways, while most have continued to support these systems because they directly benefit from them.
Because discussing race in post-civil rights America is seen by many people as somehow being "racist," a critical conversation about Whiteness could actually reinforce a fictitious narrative of white victimology and oppression.
Moreover, by recentering Whiteness in our conversations about social justice, there is always the risk that the day-to-day struggles faced by people of color in American society, one that remains steeped in racial inequality, will be overlooked.
9. It is important to discuss Whiteness and how individual white people are invested in White Privilege. One cannot overlook the fact that there are also black and brown folks who are deeply invested in maintaining White Privilege as well.
How does a consideration of people like Clarence Thomas, Herman Cain, Michelle Malkin, Jesse Peterson, Allen West, and others inform your discussions of Whiteness? Is Whiteness just skin deep? Or is there something else much more challenging and problematic going on here?
10. Never forget that "colorblindness" in post civil rights America is a type of common sense logic which actually does the work of white racism by encouraging the public to overlook racial inequality and injustice.
Any discussion of Whiteness and White Privilege should be highly sensitive to this fact. Acknowledging the realities of race and racial inequality are not wrong. The values which are assigned to racial difference, and how some people are invested in normalizing racially unequal outcomes, is the real social problem.