After posting the blog on humor and white privilege a few days ago, I have had a lot of responses, most of them private, though. Some were pretty upset with me for taking the positions that I did while others wanted to know more. I am hoping that I can bring some of those private conversations into the public at some point so that we can have a wider discussion, but in the mean time, I wanted to offer a few suggested readings based on the interest that some people had voiced.
Here are a couple of titles that speak to white privilege in great ways:
“White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son” by Tim Wise is not only one of my favorite books but is, in my opinion, one of the best pieces of whiteness and privilege every written.
Also, “When Affirmative Action was White” by Ira Katznelson looks to the history of government programs and affirmative action that directly benefited white people. It is important to note, though, that the title is deceiving, as affirmative action is still largely white, as the people most likely to benefit from Affirmative Action programs are white women.
I also love the blog Stuff White People Do. Phttp://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/ It is a great way to digest some shorter pieces on privilege if you don’t have the desire to read a book or don’t have the time! I highly recommend checking it out! Also, there is often some great discussion in the comments section that I love to read through.
Peace be the Journey!
Humor is such an incredibly powerful tool! It has a way of making the most difficult of subject matter approachable. In his sketch, “Being White,” Louis CK hilariously points out the reality that few want to admit. No, white people are not better. “Being white is clearly better.” Warning, contains graphic language.
One of the things about “The Wall” that I think makes it so powerful is that it highlights oppression, discrimination, and inequality that is far too often not highlighted in our society. It takes lifts the veil from people’s eyes about the role we all play in prejudice, bigotry, and hate. I feel so confident in saying this not only because of the people who have described to me the ways in which the workshop changed their lives, but because my life was changed, my eyes were opened, when Terry Smith, the original creator of The Wall, first asked me to join him in tearing down the walls of hate in my life.
Yet for all of its ability to highlight the struggles of those so often ignored or caste aside in our society, it is incredibly flawed. There is only so much that I can talk about in that time. One thing that I never give quite the airtime that it deserves is the issue of Able-ism, thinking of or treating someone as less than yourself due to their being differently-abled. Well, if there is anything that highlighted the importance of bringing able-ism to light, it was my experience at HOBY South Dakota a few weeks ago. I knew that there would be a lot of new staff at this seminar that I had not met, partially because I had taken a year off from this seminar and partially because I had heard there was an influx of new people working there this year. When I arrived, I was quickly introduced to Kati Seymour. Now, upon meeting Kati, I should have been overwhelmed with excitement about how much she can bring to the table. She was funny and energetic and outgoing. Instead of thinking this way, though, I immediately questioned her ability to facilitate effectively the learning experience of 10 or 11 high school students. I hate admitting this, but I questioned her ability because Kati is in a wheel chair.
I have been fortunate enough over the last few weeks to attend two HOBY seminars. For those of you not familiar with HOBY, it stands for Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership, and there are 3-4 day seminars in every state in the U.S. that bring together amazing sophomores in high school for a life-changing leadership seminar.