I often tell a story about a conversation I observed in a feminist theory seminar that I participated in about a decade ago. A white woman was explaining to a black woman how their common experience of oppression under patriarchy bound them together as sisters. All women, she explained, had the same experience as women, she said.
The black woman demurred from quick agreement. “When you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror,” she asked the white woman, “what do you see?”
“I see a woman,” responded the white woman hopefully.
“That’s the problem,” responded the black woman. “I see a black woman. To me race is visible, because it is how I am not privileged in society. Because you are privileged by race, race is invisible to you. It is a luxury, a privilege not to have to think about race every second of your life.”
I groaned, embarrassed. And, as the only man in the room, all eyes turned to me. “When I wake up and look in the mirror,” I confessed, “I see a human being. The generic person. As a middle class white man, I have no class, no race and no gender. I’m universally generalizable. I am Everyman.”
Lately, I’ve come to think that it was on that day in 1980 that I became a middle class white man, that these categories actually became operative to me. The privilege of privilege is that the terms of privilege are rendered invisible. It is a luxury not to have to think about race, or class, or gender. Only those marginalized by some category understand how powerful that category is when deployed against them.
I know I’ve made several references to the county I live in having segregated orphanages, and this past week I found out some more information about said orphanages. It was infuriating information, but information all the same. I will put this under a cut to save your dashboards, but if you’ve ever wondered about the State of Racism under a black president, well. Here you go.
“Not long ago I did a double take when I encountered the phrase “refreshingly simplistic” in a music review. When I looked it up on Google, I got hundreds of hits. It seemed to have sprung out of nowhere — these things always do — but it turns out people have been using “simplistic” for at least 40 years to mean something like “plain” or “unadorned.” Well, language changes, and speakers in a generation or two will probably find my animadversions over “refreshingly simplistic” as tiresome and fusty as I find those by people who still grouse about using “nauseous” to mean sick. (As Greene succinctly puts it, “Yesterday’s abomination is today’s rule.”) Yet the prospect of future acceptance doesn’t allay my feeling that the phrase is a pratfall. It’s as if I’d tried to tell my parents when I was growing up that I shouldn’t have had to wear a jacket to a restaurant, since people a half-century later would be showing up in jeans and flip-flops.”—Geoffrey Nunberg (via azspot)
“Right now I’m just excited to be part of a tremendous cast and consistently smart as hell writing. I played 3 different ‘Sanjay’s in 2007, so the fact that I get to play a strange, but not one-dimensional character is pure effin’ joy!”—Danny Pudi, answering questions on Reddit (which I can’t even begin to understand). Awesome comment, though.
“You think 435 fairly well to-do, mostly white men, should make that decision?”—Anthony Weiner advocating that the decision for what women should be able to do with their bodies should be a decision made between a woman and her doctor, not determined by a committee of congressmen. Video here. (via soupsoup)
“I want you teabaggers out there to understand one thing: while you idolize the Founding Fathers and dress up like them, and smell like them, I think it’s pretty clear that the Founding Fathers would have hated your guts. And what’s more, you would’ve hated them. They were everything you despise. They studied science, read Plato, hung out in Paris, and thought the Bible was mostly bullshit.”—Bill Maher (via leftish)
“In a 1795 letter, George Washington vowed that “the executive branch of this government never has, nor will suffer, while I preside, any improper conduct of its officers to escape with impunity.” Thomas Jefferson — in an April 16, 1784, letter to Washington — argued that the foundation on which American justice must rest is “the denial of every preeminence.” It’s literally difficult to imagine how we could be further away from those core principles. That the culprits who caused one of the worst financial crises in modern history have been fully shielded from the consequences of their acts — set along side the torturers and illegal eavesdroppers who have been similarly protected — illustrates that quite compellingly.”—Glenn Greenwald (via azspot)
Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, sounds upset. And you can see why: President Obama, to the great relief of progressives, has called his bluff.
Last week, Mr. Ryan unveiled his budget proposal, and the initial reaction of much of the punditocracy was best summed up (sarcastically) by the blogger John Cole: “The plan is bold! It is serious! It took courage! It re-frames the debate! The ball is in Obama’s court! Very wonky! It is a game-changer! Did I mention it is serious?”
Then people who actually understand budget numbers went to work, and it became clear that the proposal wasn’t serious at all. In fact, it was a sick joke. The only real things in it were savage cuts in aid to the needy and the uninsured, huge tax cuts for corporations and the rich, and Medicare privatization. All the alleged cost savings were pure fantasy.
On Wednesday, as I said, the president called Mr. Ryan’s bluff: after offering a spirited (and reassuring) defense of social insurance, he declared, “There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. And I don’t think there’s anything courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don’t have any clout on Capitol Hill.” Actually, the Ryan plan calls for $2.9 trillion in tax cuts, but who’s counting?
And then Mr. Obama laid out a budget plan that really is serious.