[Marxism] Is white male privilege an "illusion"? (Was: Re: Troubledtime)

Craig Brozefsky craig at red-bean.com
Sat Nov 25 23:18:26 MST 2006

Carrol Cox <cbcox at ilstu.edu> writes:

> The main problem with theories of white privilege is that they
> interfere with the struggle against racism by misunderstanding both
> the grounds of racism and the ways in which it operates. (There
> _has_ been something like male privilege, but that is disappearing
> as the forms of male supremacy change.)

It seems to me that you, and others, are confused about "white
privilege" theories.  Maybe this is because you come across them in a
different context, perhaps academic?  I am familiar with them via
activist work and organizing in mixed groups.

Your confusion is consistent with the comments I have seen raised in
this forum for years when the topic comes up -- as if white privilege
is a charge against ones moral character and is an issue of individual
volition and use of unearned power derived from membership in a social
group (tagged by gender or race).

> We learn _nothing_ about either structural racism or how to fight it
> by focusing on individual attitudes or on the treatment of whites.

Theories of white priveledge are used precisely to get away from the
focus on individual attitudes and racist acts.  This is the opening
quote from McIntosh's essay on White Privilege which is used in many
contexts as an introduction to the theory:

      I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness,
      not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group

                               - Peggy McIntosh

I think it is *VERY* useful as a way of introducing a social systems
perspective to racism.  I also think is VERY useful in examining my
own behavior ( as a white male) in mixed groups of gender or race.

The full essay is available here:

Sincerely, Craig Brozefsky              <craig at red-bean.com>
Free Scheme/Lisp Software     http://www.red-bean.com/~craig
Less matter, more form!                       - Bruno Schulz
ignazz, I am truly korrupted by yore sinful tzourceware. -jb

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