I made a comment to this blog post, which I will reprint here, because I think it gives a pretty good example of what we’re really up against when we talk about racism systemic racism and white privilege, male oppression and things like that
I think many of these comments as well as the cartoon strip is missing point.
It is similar to the Google diversity thing:
Keep in mind that I fully understand the Google employees diversity thing that he got fired for, and as well I understand the cartoon and I actually think it’s kind of funny.
But the question is really: am I attached to that humour as a sort of source or basis from which I view the world?
Does the fact that I think that cartoon is funny actually identify something that I believe or that is something that I feel is essential or identifies something of my thinking that I think is somehow better than what the cartoon is indicating, and is what I am identifying as the source of my ability to think that cartoon is funny shows something that other people should also identify with and also understand if they are to be “free” or not oppressed?
The point of the diversity thing is that I have a privilege as a white male to have this kind of rational approach to life. As a European dissent white male in America my view upon the world and all things that go into my speaking about this of you are automatically privileged.
Of course there are arguments to say that from an evolutionary standpoint my privilege is the result of the all of humanity across the world interacting with one another through the ages. It is a kind of Feuerbach ian economy argument.
The issue that we are dealing with is, is there a common rationality or a common intelligence that everyone must adhere to in the rhetoric of freedom and oppression?
It seems that many of the comments for this blog really are taking a kind of patronizing approach to what these women are saying. They’re basically saying I know better than you and you poor little creature who is oppressed and really has no concept of freedom you are deluded in what you’re expressing to me.
It is exactly that kind of attitude that pretty much probably 70% of the world is trying to express to white males (or at least in so far as the dominant culture may indeed have an effective hold or an effective rationality over people). That ‘we’ are not children, and every time you say something (in a manner of speaking) it pisses me off. (We can talk about the philosophical notion of trauma elsewhere).
The rest of the world is saying hey you’re white cultural rationality is a view, is a particular view. The arguments that you put forth as to why this view maybe more rational or that somehow it is attached to this great technological or political system that we have now, including the idea of progress, all of these rationales equate to the white privilege. But it is not that the white privilege is necessarily wrong and it’s view, it is more that it tends to promote that it is the correct view. Everyone else can see it but the white male paradigm seems to have a difficult time in seeing it self as a view amongst views. It automatically and most usually sees the attachment of its view to cultural and political forms as necessary instead of contingent. It has a kind of limited recourse to its own priority, just as everyone else’s, but the issue with the white Paradigm is that it is used to its effect of power, that it has trouble dismissing itself from its self proclaimed ‘neutral’ position if it’s assertion of priority and power.
again, I think the difficult thing to wrap one head around, especially for white people and especially for white males, is that there been a history of oppression n that has brought us to this moment, and that the whole idea of oppression itself is pretty much a colonialist product. what we are dealing with now is sorting out the irony inherent in and oppressive discourse telling other people, and or giving them the “proper” manner of situating their oppressed state. there are more than one books upon this very issue. The one that comes to mind right now is called “castes of mind” by Dirks, but indeed even colonial list subjects, subjects of oppression, have noted that the only way they have to voice their oppressed situation is through the discourse of the oppressor. Also see Paulo Freire.
The ironic point, as the Google anti-diversity guy makes, is that at some point we just shut down what we generally know as open discussion. And this is due to the limits of communication: At some point communication fails. We are unable to communicate what we mean sufficiently enough for the addressee to comprehend . After so long of trying, we realize that we don’t need their support. It is then a numbers game, as we typically see with colonialism and it’s rejection. The effectively antagonistic aspect functions to allow for the site of justice despite itself.