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Things Will Get Better If We Do Nothing

November 30, 2009

Here’s a way to ensure that you go home angry: teach about white privilege to a bunch of white students and watch them outright deny matters of fact.

When shown statistics about white wealth and black wealth, I had a student say “I don’t believe those.”

Really? Have you run your own research? Have you read research that says otherwise? Or do you just want to believe the stats are false?

The statistics showed that the gap between whites and blacks is increasing, but this student assured me that things will get better over time (racism is slowly dying, don’t you know?). We don’t need to do anything about it.

This, of course, should come as no surprise, because as a white person she stands to gain by ignoring the problem.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. progressivescholar permalink
    November 30, 2009 4:17 pm

    Interestingly enough, I have gotten into several discussions/arguments with other white people recently about subtle racism, namely the rich-poor gap and why some people can’t just “pull themselves up from their bootstraps”. I also notice a huge problem with denial and blaming the victim (white people didn’t cause their problems, they are just lazy/stupid/not hard workers).

    As a white anti-racist it is hard, heartbreaking even, to realize how little white people know about their own impact on other groups of people and how that impact, no matter how long ago inflicted, still resonates today.

    I’ll be adding you to my blogroll! You might be interested in reading a couple of my recent posts where I talk about “post-racial” America and white privilege. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  2. November 30, 2009 10:14 pm

    Maybe reinforcement and/or repetition would help.

    It’s definitely a tough row to hoe. But I think it’s really good of you to hoe it. Some of the seeds you’re planting are likely to sprout, no?

  3. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    November 30, 2009 10:19 pm

    Macon: they’re definitely going to get reinforcement—for 3 or 4 more class sessions! We’ll see how it goes. On the positive side, the second section of the class seemed less closed to what I was covering.

    Progressive: Thanks for your comment! I just subscribed to your blog and will be reading/commenting soon!

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