The “Race Card” and the white Privilege Coin

If POC supposedly have a “race card” they play to “invent” issues about race, then I’d like to officially introduce the white privilege coin.  It has two sides and, for many white folks, it’s used to buy their way out of arguments about racism and white supremacy.

Here’s how the two sides work:

*One side is used to dismiss what POC say about their experiences with racism on the basis of white folks never having this experience themselves. We don’t find any evidence in our own lives of racism (because we don’t experience it), so POC must be making shit up. This is the privileged attitude that nothing matters until it happens to us. Most of us don’t give a flying fuck about racism until we think it happens in “reverse,” which leads us to believe we are victims of racism when we’re actually dealing with prejudice.

*The other side is used to dismiss what white anti-racists say on the basis of these whites “hating” themselves. Calling white anti-racism “self-hate” derails the larger discussion/perspective of systemic hatred against POC, outsources hatred to individuals, and completely misses the point. If white folks can accuse white anti-racists of being self-hating (and therefore full of shit), then this buys them total immunity from any criticism, self-reflection, and responsibility. Effectively, this coin allows whites to never listen to anyone.

Race isn’t a card in a deck conveniently “played” to offend white sensibilities. Unlike the white privilege coin that rests in many of our pockets to pay our ass-saving toll, race and racism are social constants that are present everywhere and in all things. Zionists can dismiss Jewish folks who are critical of “Israel” as “self-hating Jews” and thereby shift the focus from genocide, ethnic cleansing, and colonial occupation of Palestinians to a bunch of crazy religion traitors. White supremacists and nationalists can call white anti-racists “self-hating whites” and thereby shift the focus of racial oppression in the US to a bunch of crazy race traitors. But race, racism, and white supremacy exist whether POC talk about it or not. There is no card, there is no deck, but there is a white privilege coin.

—DD

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2 thoughts on “The “Race Card” and the white Privilege Coin

  1. deb says:

    How about…this: I grew up in a mostly white community and was the brunt of jokes from the time I went to public school to the time I quit going to school to hang around with musicians and hippies downtown. There isn’t anything physically wrong with me; my parents divorced when I was pre-teen, and before that my dad worked three jobs so my mom could stay home with the kids. Now, would you argue that I didn’t know I had white privilege because there were only two black kids in my school? How does it factor in that they both graduated and I did not? One of them was one of the “cool kids” and the other one was a laughing-stock who has a nice life now. I didn’t graduate from high school; I got college pell grants because my family and my income were so pathetic, and even now I live paycheck to paycheck. I have been homeless twice in my life, dropping to the point where I had only 1 can of soup per day to feed myself and 2 kids (didn’t last long, because I am not an idiot and I worked my way out of it.) My son was hit by a car and killed and nobody got sued. The list goes on, but you get the idea. Now, would you argue that I didn’t know I had white privilege because there were only two black kids in my school? How does it factor in that they both graduated and I did not? One of them was one of the “cool kids” and the other one was a laughing-stock who has a nice life now. Why wasn’t my dad, a college graduate, able to get one job that paid well enough to support a family of six? Why did he never own a new car in his life? Why do I choose to buy used cars so that I don’t have a car note? Whom do I get to blame for this? Nobody, because I’m white? Seriously. I don’t have “white guilt.” I have human confusion as to why anyone takes this tack and thinks they’re helping anyone. You want to solve racism? Treat people like equals and don’t teach your kids to hate–this is the truth no matter what culture you come from (CULTURE, not race.) If you see any form of discrimination in a business or governmental setting, REPORT IT, and do not let go until something happens. Report it to their superiors, your superiors, the media. Call it out for what it is. And if someone doesn’t like you, accept that maybe (just maybe) it has something to do with your hygiene or personal habits. Educate yourself on the many and varied instances of institutional racism in America–because this “whiteness” issue is based in America, even if it was founded by the British. Yeah, that'[s right, blame the British.
    They oppressed people of all colors, not just brown. Realize that White People hate Whitey, too: we voted for Obama, just to kick whitey in the teeth. I never thought it would work, but it did, and I pray it will again. Read the book Alienable rights, and know where we really are coming from. And if your black friends are racist, drop them. Now.

    • How about… this: I was harassed through most of my young adult days in Jr. High and High School, but it was because I had blue hair and/or because I looked “like a dyke.” I was never harassed because of my race and I was never the victim of racism. My parents divorced when I was 12, and before that my mother worked a full time job to support our family. We were still broke all the time. My parents once sold their car to pay the rent. Still, none of this happened because of my race or because I was the victim of racism. I could go on, but the point is to understand the difference between class (what you’re describing) and race (what you’re NOT describing). If you are white, then you have white privilege; the evidence lying in the fact that no part of your story (or mine) involves racism. I don’t think two Black kids who graduated from your 99% white High School debunks the reality of racism because you didn’t graduate. It’s very easy to look at our own individual situations and think they reflect the larger picture. But they don’t. Your single example has little or no significance when compared to national dropout rates, poverty statistics, or HS graduate demographics.

      I’m glad you mentioned institutional racism, something you’re assuming I don’t understand, because you also claim that to “solve racism” is to just “treat people like equals.” You’re not the first white person to think they know how to solve racism, and I doubt you’ll be the last. Nor are you the first white person to think they can attest to knowing what “truth” is in every “culture.” The existence of institutional racism, from the prison-industrial complex to public education, makes it highly unlikely for an exclusively interpersonal approach to work. I would imagine that centuries of violence and oppression require a much more involved approach than ‘just be nice.’ Because racism is a structure where one racial group has power over another, not just an attitude, your Black friends (assuming you have any) can’t be and aren’t racist. They’re the ones that should be dropping you or any other white person who thinks they don’t have white privilege.

      If you’re going to claim “white people hate whitey too,” then you need to understand white people hate whitey because whitey is poor, has a different religion, is female, is gay, etc; however, white people DO NOT hate whitey BECAUSE whitey is white. This is not racial hatred, this is not racism. Prejudice and class discrimination, yes–racism, no. Read Racism Without Racists, read a thousand books on colonialism, race, and white power, then you’ll know where white folks have come from. If you want a source of blame for you and your family’s class struggle, then look no further than capitalism. This is the system that establishes a price for basic necessities in life and renders them increasingly impossible to afford so profit margin rewards are higher for corporations.

      I have no issue blaming the British for colonizing parts of the ‘Americas’–don’t forget to blame Spain and France. Also, that isn’t the reason I personally voted for Obama. Your “kick whitey in the teeth” theory falls apart pretty quickly when you consider that most white folks voted for McCain. For those whites who did vote for Obama, I don’t know the reason behind every voter’s decision. And neither do you.

      –DD

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