Invisible yet everywhere: Recognizing white privilege

Mike L. Czeczot
Mike L. Czeczot

Wait! White privilege? Me? I’m no more privileged than anyone I know…

It was Week 3 of a nine-week lesson in awareness that I hope I’ll never forget — and wish I’d taken years ago. Building Bridges of Asheville is one part awakening, two parts “whack upside the head” and nine parts “meet you halfway,” as in “This is what life is like for us African-Americans here in the Asheville area. If you want to help change that, will you meet us halfway?”

We were given a worksheet titled “White Privilege” and asked to score each of the 26 statements with a 5 if “always true,” 3 if “sometimes true” and 1 if “seldom true.” Statements like:

“I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.”

Well, no one’s ever said to me, “Great job! You’re a credit to Caucasians everywhere!” Gets a 5.

“I can swear, dress in secondhand clothes or not answer letters without having people attribute those choices to bad morals or the poverty or illiteracy of my race.”

OK: Another 5.

“If a police officer pulls me over, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.”

Won’t argue that one: 5.

When we’d finished, all 100-plus participants were told to line up side by side, based on our total scores (highest to lowest). My total (107) put me deep in white territory, while the African-Americans, whose scores ranged from 30 to 70, were to the far left. I’d racked up enough friggin’ points to be in the White Privilege Hall of Fame (if there was one). It also made me realize how much I didn’t know about being black. I’ve had black friends, neighbors and/or co-workers all my life, but I’ve never lived a black life.

That night, I realized that white privilege isn’t what I’m aware of but what I’m not aware of — something that’s been going on since long before white slave owners penned the words “All men are created equal.”

This privilege manifests itself as “microaggressions” — saying or doing things that may seem well-intended but come across as the exact opposite. Saying things like “When I look at you, I don’t see color” may seem harmless, even generous. But what an African-American likely hears is a denial of his or her racial and ethnic experience.

If you think there’s no validity to this then why, more than 50 years after Selma, Martin Luther King and civil rights, do we have Black Lives Matter? Or, at the local level, the countless groups and events striving for racial equality, such as the Racial Justice Coalition, the YWCA’s Stand Against Racism and the YMI Cultural Center… the annual MLK prayer breakfasts and Montreat Conference Center’s August 2015 “Dr. King’s Unfinished Agenda”? And websites and blogs like the State of Black Asheville, The Urban News and Asheville Action?

And why did a recent CNN/Kaiser Family Foundation poll find that racism is a bigger problem now than 20 years ago, when O.J. Simpson and Rodney King commanded headlines? Back then, 41 percent called racism a “big problem.” Last November, 49 percent said it.

“White privilege” and racism “are systemic,” says Audrey Yatras, co-chair of Building Bridges’ board. They’re also “an umbrella. Underneath is everything else: housing, education, jobs, criminal justice, health care,” and they extend “into neighborhoods, our youth.” To whites who claim they’re blameless for racism’s continued prevalence, Yatras says, “Just because you didn’t own slaves…”

MAKING CONNECTIONS: Participants in Building Bridges
MAKING CONNECTIONS: Participants in a 2015 Building Bridges session. Photo courtesy of Building Bridges

What might set Building Bridges apart is that it goes deep — really deep — into a person’s psyche, to help identify what’s needed to bridge the racial gap. When white privilege is truly history, when the microaggressions are history, then both races will be able to meet with identities intact. The program brings local signs of discrimination to light and turns it all deeply, maybe painfully inward, until we can feel discrimination.

The sessions are split in two: For the first hour, everyone listens to speakers and views statistics about the topics mentioned by Yatras. Then we form small groups led by two facilitators (one white, one African-American), and that’s when it gets down ’n’ dirty. As co-facilitator Scott Owens told me, African-American participants know and live those stats. In the small-group sessions, whites hear how their privilege and microaggressions can cut to the quick. Owens says blacks, in effect, can say, “I’m so sick of what you’re doing to me! Whew! I feel better.”

Of course, it doesn’t always play out that way. Some participants drop out, some sit on their hands and watch the clock, and some passively twiddle their thumbs. Because a lot of what’s discussed is, to varying degrees, painful or embarrassing.

During one small-group session, an African-American told of being late to meet a visiting friend at a downtown restaurant. When she called to say she’d be there in 15 minutes, the friend asked softly, “Is it OK if I wait here?” The woman said, “Why wouldn’t it be OK?” and her friend said, more softly, “There are no other blacks here. Will I be safe?”

In another session, an African-American told of being in a supermarket checkout line. The white woman in front of her paid by swiping her debit card; the clerk handed her the receipt and smiled. But when the black woman was about to swipe her debit card, the clerk sternly asked for an ID.

That was in Asheville — a city where white residents display “coexist,” “diversity” and other such bumper stickers. A city whose roughly 500 eateries serve everything from barbecued ribs to baba ghanoush, but no soul food (Chameleon Soul Food restaurant closed in 2011).

It’s not just a question of racist comments, Yatras told Xpress last March. “Not being able to get a loan for your house, only being able to live in certain places, only being able to put your children in certain schools — those are institutional things that are much harder to overcome.”

During those nine weeks, a retired banker told us how rampant such practices as mortgage redlining were until recently. A woman gave a gut-wrenching account of how her grandmother was subtly forced out of the “squeaky-clean” home she’d owned “like, forever” to make way for “affordable housing.” An educator talked about black high schoolers having to drop out and get full-time jobs to support a single parent.

So, now that I’ve “seen the enemy, and he is me,” what am I going to do about it? Have I purged white privilege and started walking over the bridge?

Let’s find out! Before writing this article, I had a chat with Yatras. I told her that I know two interracial couples, that I’d lived in a public housing project as a kid and that, back then, “I didn’t know color.”

OK, so I still have some “white privilege” within, which is why I’m writing this. Who knows? Maybe others who are like the pre-Building Bridges me will want to find out just how unintentionally privileged they are. It’s too late to sign up for the next nine-week session, but there’ll be another one in the fall.

And if you can’t wait that long, consider the last statement in the “White Privilege” handout:

“I can choose blemish color or bandages in ‘flesh’ color and have them more or less match my skin.”

I gave it a 5. What about you?

 

Mike L. Czeczot is a forcibly retired newspaper writer and editor now living with the love of his life in Black Mountain. For more information about the program, visit buildingbridges-ashevillenc.org.

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71 thoughts on “Invisible yet everywhere: Recognizing white privilege

  1. boatrocker

    Oh goodness- brace yourself, fair author for the slew of micro aggressions soon to follow. By all 2 of the sock puppet posters that masquerade as 10, that is, lol, lulz, omg, yolo, fubar, tba, etc.

    I’m willing to bet Steve Martin not being able to dance or keep the beat in “The Jerk” is probably considered demeaning to whitey nowadays. Poor whitey. Same with Gil Scott Heron’s “And Whitey’s on the Moon”. Poor us.

    • NFB

      You forgot Yep, OneWhoKnows, Solutionist, Unaffiliated Voter, and….well all those other screen names he uses.

      I’m not sure if MX has an official policy on sock puppetry or how it goes about enforcing such a policy if they do.

      • Yep

        MX welcomes all sock puppetry 24/7! And we thank them for being far more opinion inclusive than their former bouts with exclusionary tactics. Shutting down free speech is becoming a national ‘call’ on college campi too…did any of you realize this ? The UNC system is right on board with it… – you don’t agree with them, they shut you up. Or try to. Sickening.

        • Anonymity is critical to free speech because the first amendment does not apply to employers, so people get fired every day for posting opinions. I’m not sure one person posting as several should be tolerated, but suppressing anonymous posts would certainly stifle dissent and do us the disservice of driving the racist conspiracy underground where we can’t fight it effectively.

  2. The Real World

    @boatrocker and NFB — instead of you speaking for other people; pigeon-holing someones viewpoint before they’ve even spoken…..why don’t you just speak for yourselves?

    • boatrocker

      Awww, Da Weal World, did I hurt your Ayn Wandian feewings lol lulz? I’m so sowwy I beat you to the tea pawty vs. pwowgwessive punch. Usuawy lol the twollerz lulz bwame the article du jour on the bwack man in the White House lulz. Ha ha I got furst pwace for shawing my thoutz lol.

      That’s your pwobwem lulz Weal World, you want too much wegulation on comments. Wegualtion is evil and wong. Weally weally wong. That’s the pwoblem with this countwy lol. Wess wegulation lol lulz is better. How many tax dowars did the city spend to pubwish all your wetters that make words? Ha ha you can’t answer cuz you are wong!

      I guess I KKKan sleep well for KKKomuniKKKating with real thinkers with KKKritical thinking sKKKills as opposed to others who KKKoment here daily like it’s a KKKrack addiKKKtion!!

      I CANT WAIT for the PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL AGENDA to be shown FOR what IT IS!!! FACTS, well THOUGHT OUT arguMENTS supported by primary sources with jourNAListiC Integrity! MY CAPITAL LETTERS WILL DEstroY YOLbama!

      Thank you Asheville, please refer to me as the Rich Little of posters. I’m here all week, so don’t forget to tip your wait staff.

      • boatrocker

        Thanks Real World, that was the exact response I was hoping for in parroting certain posters’ comments. Did you like all those lols and lulz? How about random capitalized words and calling anything done by the left KKK realted. Yea, I rest my case. The Mtn X really has gone downhill since losing most of the quality staff and the most one can hope for is a twee little “debate the issue, not call people names”. I feel like I should get a lollipop every time I hear that sad excuse for moderating.

        Let’s see how long it takes to post this comment (6:21pm Fri Jan 22 AD) for taking a certain editiorial staff to task. It’s ok to be afraid of the far right loonies who constantly post under other names (and are proud to admit it), but do not- repeat do not ever refer to yourself as a real news rag, Xpress.

    • Lulz

      LOL, because of white privilege lulz.

      LOL, the only thing privileged about this tripe is that the mentally challenged are given a voice.

  3. Big Al

    This “white privilege” concept sounds pretty one-way to me. I thought conflict resolution was about compromise and meeting in the middle. All I see is an organized effort to continue making white individuals feel guilty about the evils that their entire race are alleged to have committed. If blacks were held to this same standard it would be called racism. And if whites tried to get away with their version of “Black Pride”, or demanded that “White Lives Matter”, or called for the creation of a “United Caucasian College Fund” or a “National Association for the Advancement of White People”, similar accusations would be made. With all of these double-standards already established, do you really expect whites to flock to a movement that demands of them guilt and shame and delivers nothing but smug sanctimony?

    • Peter Robbins

      Look on the bright side, Big Al. Even when they make you feel guilty, it’s still all about you.

      • NFB

        “Look on the bright side, Big Al. Even when they make you feel guilty, it’s still all about you.”

        LOL! Perfect! Thank you!

    • Walter

      Big Al,

      First, you are right in that this is looking at it “one way”. However, would you rather have the need to start a movement such as “black lives matter” or live within a reality where “white lives matter more”. The later exists through institutional power and other means and necessitates the former. Insisting that there is a “middle ground” or compromise to achieving equality is like saying there is a “middle ground” to being pregnant, committing sin. As whites we already have a “white lives matter” movement and it is the reality of our everyday lives. THAT is the point of the notion of “white privilege”.

      White lives already matter more to our voting laws, institution of marriage (blacks couldn’t marry whites until 1967), our banking system, our tax system that promotes the retaining of wealth (middle class tax deductions such as home mortgage deductions, upper crust advantages like low capital gains taxes, and corporate welfare including a low, unlivable minimum wage FAR exceed any government program to help the poor), our legal system (more whites use illegal drugs and yet blacks serve more time for drug offenses http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/17/racial-disparity-drug-use_n_3941346.html). “White lives matter” is not a movement not because it would be racist. It isn’t a movement because it’s meaningless gobbledegook in a world where white lives have always mattered more.

      So, Al, the double standard is you. You want the racial power and privilege you have and for that inequality to remain unburden some to you. You don’t want to have to put up with movements that call it to light or your privilege to make a “white power movement” rationally incongruent. I understand you feel “put upon” by the (slow) march towards equality and you mistakenly believe that march and the loss of racial privilege to be inequality. That is certainly another, albeit disingenuous, way of looking at it.

      • Big Al

        Please explain to me what racial power and privilege (i.e. “special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people”) I have. Being white does not allow me to ignore or break any laws. It did not keep me from being falsely accused of theft as a teen. It did not keep my father from being passed over for promotion by less qualified minorities in the name of Affirmative Action (a form of government-sponsored reverse racism). White privilege is just this year’s cliché in the slow march toward redistribution that is class warfare in America. When it peters out, something else will take its’ place.

        If there is any “advantage” in being white, it is that there is no expectation to join in the eternal communal whining of those who long ago found an easier way to achieve than by labor or merit.

        • Peter Robbins

          That’s good. I’d hate to hear you when you’re whining.

        • hauntedheadnc

          Tell me, Al, when was the last time that you were stopped by police for driving too nice of a car in too nice of a neighborhood? When was the last time you were asked how much you like watermelon and friend chicken at a job interview? On average, how many times per week do you have a customer or client at your job tell you not to touch them because of the color of your skin? When was the last time a client told your wife that they didn’t trust her judgment because she was married to someone with your skin color?

        • The Real World

          @Big Al – your points are valid and merit discussion but there are too many who frequent these boards who already have complete and superior understanding of how the universe should work.

          They seem to fancy themselves as ‘enlightened and open-minded’ but their behavior and comments routinely indicate otherwise….and they don’t even grasp that reality. Keep on speaking your mind and asking your questions, please, but as you know, much of it will fall on deaf ears and closed minds.

          My pet peeve about this kind of commentary is how it’s always about only the 2 demographics. Why? Stop and consider that, people. In this country (and town) there are Asians, Hispanics, Middle Easterners….plus women being discriminated against by both men and women, handicapped people and the list goes on. Why does the discussion always seem to be limited to just black and white (and whites are always the bad guys)?

          • Peter Robbins

            Who awarded you the privilege to change the subject? I don’t think Big Al was done recounting the indignities he and his ancestors have suffered at the hands of a cruelly progressive society. Let the man have his say. Please.

          • Walter

            Real World, I’m not really sure what you are saying. You are passively attempting to talk down to many here and you attack straw men, but what you don’t do is make sense.

            Please feel free to demonstrate how minorities (not just blacks) are NOT subject to white privilege. Use statistics to demonstrate just how advantaged minorities are. I would LOVE to see the science behind this. I don’t assume any complete and superior understanding and would welcome your science being minority authority.

        • Walter

          Al, I provided you some of those examples of racial privilege enjoyed by whites. You did not respond to them, so either you did not read them, cannot understand them, or you do not have a credible response. Whichever it is, I will attempt to address specifically the two claims you make.

          You say, “It (white privilege) did not keep my father from being passed over for promotion by less qualified minorities in the name of Affirmative Action (a form of government-sponsored reverse racism).” First, case study evidence is fatally flawed. Secondly, one has to assume that this actually occurred as described based upon the word of a soft-bigot rather than your father getting passed over for some legitimate reason. However, let’s assume it did occur JUST as you said it did (monstrous leap). The following are mega statistics (not case studies) that suggest that regardless of an African American being more qualified or the presence of Affirmative Action, whites still enjoy considerable privilege.

          http://www.jbwtucker.com/ultimate-white-privilege-statistics/
          “Whites are 78% more likely to be accepted to the same university as equally qualified people of color. Emphasis on “equally qualified.”
          “A black college student has the same chances of getting a job as a white high school dropout.”[46]
          “Meanwhile, a white male with a criminal record is 5% more likely to get a job than an equally qualified person of color with a clean record.”[37][47][48]
          “Blacks need to complete not one but two more levels of education just to have the same probability of getting a job as a white guy.”[46]

          Whatever you may want to think of Affirmative Action, on the whole white privilege trumps it MANY TIMES OVER in the realm of higher education AND on the job. If we are to assign the term “cliche” (as you were want to use) to the less impactful notion, then clearly “Affirmative Action” would be the cliche and not “white privilege”.

          As far as being white not allowing you to ignore or break any laws, I want to be respectful, but that’s the most ignorant BS. You don’t even believe that. You WANT to believe it, so much so, you lie to yourself about it, but you don’t believe it. Moreover, the statistics again do NOT support you.

          This link http://www.jbwtucker.com/ultimate-white-privilege-statistics/ will cite you 100s of examples of being white allowing you to break more laws, suffer fewer consequences such as number of arrests for infractions, smaller fines, convictions sought, etc., serve less jail time, suffer less bodily harm or fewer murders at the hands of police.

          Big Al, please do me this favor, should you respond. Argue the statistics. It first requires that you read them, then process them, then contradict them. Your response previously would suggest you did not do that the first time.

          • The Real World

            “Real World, I’m not really sure what you are saying.”
            Stick around, Walter and you will witness the predictable and intractable views I am referring to.
            Hhmm, you may be in the same camp because you knee-jerk reacted to my comments rather than pausing to think about the intent.

            “Please feel free to demonstrate how minorities (not just blacks) are NOT subject to white privilege.”
            Inaccurate conclusion! The point is there ARE many facets and demographics involved in this issue so, WHY Walter, do we routinely only hear about one aspect of it?? Have any of you asked yourselves that?

        • Richard

          BIg Al, you have scored again! A very well thought out comment. Makes so much sense that you scare those who deal better
          with ideological word salad than realities.

    • boatrocker

      Sweet Jesus dude, I could overlook any other points you made that I may not agree with except for the word “alleged” in terms of evils committed against black people.

      If you look at a picture of a black guy from the early 20th century hanging from a tree with a lynch mob surrounding him and kids eating ice cream cones, what exactly do you see? I see an evil, and it’s not alleged. I worry about some of these Rayndian posters whose comments I read and wonder if they will soon be on the news as the next Dylan Roof.

    • This has some validity, this focus on subconscious racism damages recruitment of whites to the huge need to root out the totally conscious racist conspiracy. We will not be ready to grapple with our subconscious while millions of fully aware racist zoners lurk in every city and county boardroom.

      • Richard

        Gosh, wish I were an intellectual. Then I would have some idea of what you are talking about.

      • Big Al

        What REALLY “damages recruitment of whites” is silly notions like “the totally conscious racist conspiracy” of “millions of fully aware racist zoners…in every city and county boardroom”. This ranks right up there with “White Privilage” and “micro aggressions”. Psycho-babble from pseudo-intellectuals whose real purpose is to shut Whitey up and guilt him into giving up his wallet to thugs and con artists.

        • Yeah, it’s so ludicrous to think that there are white people in government that consciously conspire to reduce the black vote.

          http://billmoyers.com/2014/10/24/voter-discrimination/

          Again, more evidence in support of white people (remember, I’m one of them) being racist and in these cases governing in racist ways. Big Al, I’m still waiting on a replay that doesn’t possess your feelings on the matter but demonstrates over-arching , scientific facts. You can “feel” all you want about your father’s failure to get a promotion, but the facts remain otherwise.

  4. ApePeeD

    *Yawn* the Caucasian customer with the debit card could have been a well-known customer, and the Black one wasn’t. Or even had been one with a bad check before.
    Not every instance of being treated differently in the economy is an incident of racism. Life sucks. Get over it. Tuck your shirt in, pull up your pants, do away with your afros and your guns and you’ll be amazed at how fast your quality of life will improve.

    • Lulz

      LOL, yep. Blacks have issues because of government lulz. The lackeys and automatic voters of the democrats for decades haven’t progressed nor will they as long as they are told someone else is to blame. On top of wearing your hat sideways and your pants down to your knees will cause others to judge you for what you project lulz. And of course we have the lefty loonies that won’t dare criticize the incompetent government machine that fails time after time and instead blame whites, and white males especially, as being privileged for the lack of progress that MONEY CAN’T BUY lulz.

    • mynameis

      “Tuck your shirt in, pull up your pants, do away with your afros and your guns and you’ll be amazed at how fast your quality of life will improve.”

      Here’s to the most racist comment in the thread so far!

    • bsummers

      And when we’ve determined that you’ve suppressed your blackness enough, we’ll consider giving you your guns back, because y’know, 2nd Amendment!!

    • Richard

      A Caucasian man standing on a corner of downtown Asheville in the rain waiting for the light to change gets splashed when a fast moving vehicle hits a puddle in front of him. The driver is also Caucasian. Further down the street, the same thing happens to an African American man standing on that corner waiting to cross, same driver. The first man swears, though he knows the driver had no control over the water from the puddle that splashed him, and crosses the street and goes on with his day. The second man yells after the vehicle and to all around him that the driver is a racist son-of-a-bitch.
      However, I do understand the paranoia of the second man.
      It is human nature and happens frequently to each of us. What a reasonable person does is to try hard to separate the paranoid thoughts from the possible realities of the situation. I am quite serious about this factor when it comes to a discussion on “racism”. Think about it.

      • Richard

        Mountain Express ‘Comments” editor. Why is my comment “awaiting moderation”? If you do not post it, I will take it as a compliment
        of major proportions. Sometimes the truth is too much for some to handle. Or, if in your mind not the truth, then a postulation that
        cannot be challenged is too scary for some.

        • Peter Robbins

          Did your moderated comment ever get through? The reason I ask is that I’m about to send this batch off to Bartlett’s and I wanted to make sure they were getting your top-of-the-can stuff.

    • Black civilians need armed self defense far more than white ones. King was extensively protected by armed black civilians. They have and need their second amendment rights constantly. That N. Charleston guy certainly needed a gun and didn’t have one.

      • boatrocker

        Amen- it might be time to revisit (as in read up on) the 1968 NRA approved gun control bill spearheaded by that sterling example of The Man’s values, aka a CA gov named Ronald Reagan. He and others sought to take away guns from people who needed them to protect themselves.

        My how the NRA changed under President Reagan.

  5. Able Allen

    Hey y’all, let’s keep it civil and on topic please. Less ad hominem more argumentation.

    • The Real World

      That LA Times article was an interesting read. I also thought the most recent commenter to made some worthwhile points:
      While many bemoan this article, the author’s point—that a victim mentality may well be taught—is a welcome point of view.

      This has nothing to do with skin colour alone. Throughout history there have been many ethnic groups who have suffered some form of oppression. Our own citizens of Japanese heritage were forced in to camps thanks to Uncle Sam! While no doubt it left a scar, people have risen. That is part of their history, but it doesn’t have to be the defining part of their future. there’s more…..

      • Peter Robbins

        The oppressors inflicted wounds on themselves, too. Physician, heal thyself.

          • Peter Robbins

            Only some of them are dead dead. Others are just dead between the ears.

        • The Real World

          Yes, Peter! Thank you for expanding the view. This is my contention…..that the issue is more broader and more nuanced than many want to realize or bother to deal with.

          I have an answer to my own questions above about why this issue always seems to be pigeon-holed as purely black/white (and notice that all the folks with the knee-jerk views don’t bother to answer legitimate questions.) The reason commentary is so narrow is related to geography, meaning the Southeastern USA and WNC, in particular, have much smaller percentages of Asian, Hispanics and others. They barely get noticed but I’m sure they have stories to tell. So the views here are still pretty myopic and there is, no doubt, much more white guilt floating around than in parts of the country where slavery didn’t exist.

  6. You can remove I’m guessing about 70% of white privilege by growing your hair long and looking homeless, or by growing dreadlocks, but it doesn’t get it all and losing white privilege for has a huge opportunity cost which eventually prevents you from donating to the NAACP etc, but a modern update of Black Like Me is probably due.

    • I forgot wearing pants low and hat sideways to reduce white privilege, until reminded by previous comments. I’m getting old.

  7. It is primarily liberals, with their UDO: which is decimating the affordable housing supply by preventing trickle down, which in this case is very real: which is driving blacks out of Asheville the same way it is driving rednecks and trailer trash out, and black redneck trailer trash for that matter, as the UDO violates property rights and the constitution (see the minority report in the Euclid decision). The Asheville UDO is the epitome of Asheville liberal elite racism.

  8. There are still lots of estates and inherited old money wealth that dates back to Jim Crow, like the Biltmore Estate, and a significant amount that dates back to slavery, so that to me is where most of the white privilege lies, not in microaggressions. Also, there is a widespread but full conscious racial conspiracy out there doing far more damage than this semiconscious stuff.

    • For example the Beaverdam zoners know full well how racist they are. They do not need to tap into their subconscious to discover their racism because they are an enviro-racist conspiracy, not a racial subconscious tendency.

  9. Mike Czeczot

    Thanks to all who’ve read and taken the time to post comments stemming from my “white privilege” piece (I would’ve posted something earlier, but there was a shovel with my name on it, and 24″ drifts outside the door…). It’s encouraging that a number of readers get the white privilege thing, but sad that some seem to be missing the point — or going off-point to make another point. What I’ve gleaned since learning about white privilege is that it doesn’t deny discrimination exists against other ethnicities, other races, other sexes. But no group has endured what’s been — and still is — thrown at African Americans by whites. “American” history books ignore the facts that we’ve captured, tortured, raped, hanged, wrongly imprisoned or vivisected them (while alive). And not just for a few decades, or even a century. Instead, it became ingrained in many whites. Hell, we don’t even know we’re being offensive, racist or bigoted. My point is, we need to exorcise this poison if we want to be on a level playing (and living) field. So please, everyone; start living up to your “co-exist” and “diversity” bumper stickers! Thanks!

    • The ones doing the devastating damage know perfectly will what they are doing. They just aren’t telling us about it.

    • boatrocker

      One of my favorite ways to anger people is to point out that whitey doesn’t need a history month as every month is white history month.
      When America can own it’s foundations of inequity, then we will grow as a country.

      The same folks who say “waaa, why can’t blacks get over slavery?” are the same folks who will “never forget” losing the Civil War. Strange, eh?

  10. The Real World

    @Mike – you don’t even realize the the degree of privilege and discrimination you’re putting forth in your comment, it seems.

    An adequate understanding of the issue cannot be reasonably attained without broadening the topic. And it needs to be a discussion, a multi-way conversation…..not a bully pulpit.

    • Mike Czeczot

      Never intended for it to be bully pulpit. Instead, I’d hoped readers would consider, search, debate and, ultimately, resolve this one tentacle of the octopus called “discrimination.” If so, then maybe inroads would be made toward healing black-white tensions, and we could move on to the myriad other forms of racial and ethnic hatred. That can only happen with, as you suggest, discussion.

      • boatrocker

        Step 1- So I went back and re read the original article. Well written, with good points all around.

        Step 2- the flood of sock puppetry comments.
        Step 3- Mountain X has a clear policy on sock puppetry.
        Step 4- sock puppets gleefully admitting to doing so on this very thread and others with no consequences or repercussions.
        Step 5- me wondering “How does this happen?”
        Step 6- realizing the Mtn X does not actively moderate, but rather they instead wait for said sock puppet comments to generate more views, and therefore increasing readership.

        Sigh, well I guess I finally know how real journalism works.

        But the actual point of this post was to ask the author if there is an across the board definition of ‘soul food’ as mentioned in the article (I didn’t pick up on this until a second reading). Are you referring to the stereotypical version presented in Aretha’s diner in The Blues Brothers, or does an eatery have to have certain items on the menu?

        Would matzo balls qualify as soul food in a Hasidic neighborhood?
        Would a vegetarian dish from one’s village in India served here qualify?
        Pigs’ feet and collard greens from Biloxi?
        Chiecken and waffles served at 3am after seeing a blues show in Memphis?
        I guess what I’m wondering is what soul tastes like? My 2 cents says anything tasty except English food. That’s called ‘we eat it because otherwise we’ll starve’.

        I look forward to more articles that cause sock puppets to gnash their teeth for the cold hard brutality of subliminal racism being illuminated by the light of day.

        • Able Allen

          We appreciate your concern for the rules and would be happy to speak with you about any complaints with moderation. We would love to improve our process. However since this is not an article about “sock puppetry” or MX.com terms, lets take it up off thread. You can email me at aallen@mountainx.com and I will make sure your concerns are looked into.

        • Mike Czeczot

          Mr. boatrocker (would that be your given name or surname?), many thanks for your feedback on the quality of my “Opinion” piece. However, I’m at a loss to understand your attempts to define “soul food,” other than the obvious. That discussion would best be directed toward authorities in the food industry. As it pertains to my reference, try Googling “Asheville soul food” and see what shows up. Concerning your attacks on the Xpress’s editorial and online policies, I suggest you follow Mr. Allen’s suggestion and contact him directly. However, I can assure you that the Xpress did not impose/imply any restrictions to my column other than length. But, as a long-time newspaper journalist, I can assure you that “sock puppetry,” as you call it, has been debated for years by leading journalism institutions (ranging from The Poynter Institute to the National Press Assoc.) with no consensus. Check a mix of mainstream news organizations’ websites (LA Times, CNN, NPR, Miami Herald, Reuters, to name a few) and you’ll see what I mean.

          • boatrocker

            Really? The food element was humor based. If any food that tastes good =soul food, then I should ideally weigh 500lb.

            The sock puppet comments are something the MtnX has neglected for years, and I think they are more than aware of it. When someone named Yep fully endorses and admits to it, well it’s out there for every reader to see and not my problem, but I’m happy to point out the elephant in the room.

            As to my ‘handle’, I’m an avid whitewater kayaker. Google ‘eskimo roll’ for further clarification. Yes, I know the proper term is Inuit, but I can’t be everywhere all the time.

  11. tsalagi sister

    Until I was fifty, my true heritage was unknown to me.Turns out that I am from here and am Tsalagi, not white.My grand father and grandmother both had to “pass as white” to avoid being lynched in a southern state.Finding my race gave me insight into why racism deeply upset me as a child and till this day.It is very hard not to be tempted to fully reject white folks as my other ancestry were the murderous raping rich Normans.1000 year’s of racism. Rape and white privilege in my family has led me to denounce my family and cherish my Tsalagi side.Racim does exist.Have never seen such vitriol not even in segregated Alabama.A lack of RESPECT for all life, and an awareness of how our words and actions affect others is needed.

    my dear grandparents could not even acknowledge there race, nor speak there native language.I have always empathize, found common ground. And been blessed by my African American cousins.For you see, we all have99 percent the same DNA.why then don’t we RESPECT each persons unique divine spark.I stand with all people of color.Their struggle informs my own.As the Lakota say. “Miyutake oyasin” (all my relations)till we see we all all in this together nothing shall change.
    I am leavingAville due to these issues and. Going to learn from my people’s what my grandfather could not teach me except by example.He lived those tenets of RESPECT others even when he could. Not even talk about who he was.His lifelong sadness came from having to hide who he was.Now can some if you see how racism harms?
    To my dear brothers and sisters of color,I love you and thank you for sharing your courage.never would have survived Aville without you.

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