Entitlement, Oppression, Race and Gender and Movie Reviews - Caution: Disturbing Images Ahead

I have been thinking about race with regard to the armed black man post and wondering why some folks have trouble "getting" the racism angle of the story.

Whites and Native Americans: I think maybe it comes down to a sense of entitlement. If we white folks were fair with the native americans on this continent since our arrival here, we might not own most of the land and wealth of the continent, the surviving tribal members would probably be much a greater portion of the population of the continent and the concept of an Indian Reservation might have no meaning today.

We did not respect or honor the native american ethic of land and nature as a common. I think the Europeans who arrived here a couple of centuries ago could only think of land in terms of property and wealth. In a European history, the commons were owned by the monarch. That's the situation of trying to explain water to a fish, land has got to be owned by someone, right? When white folks said to native americans, hey, we want to buy this land from you or we now own this land under English common law and your historical hunting grounds or fishing culture should have recorded your title, or paid taxes on the land if you wanted to maintain a status quo for hunting or fishing rights. The concepts about land use and ownership (we do not own the world, the world owns us) are so foreign that a meeting of the minds (an element of contract law) really may have been impossible. The simple (read profitable) solution was to force the first nations onto small plots of land that would not support their culture and kill the individuals who objected to the solution.

To this day, white americans do not want to reflect or attempt to understand the inequity of the land grab, the injustice of the US pattern of violating treaty after treaty with the tribes, the slaughter of women and children of the first nations of the continent, the genocide waged against the native americans with the primary motivation of acquiring the land and natural resources that might otherwise appear to vest with the tribes.

We enjoy the entitlement that comes along with being white and having prevailed over the indigenous people of this continent. But it is really is a shameful legacy.

 

Whites and Black Americans: The same thing occurs with the lack of recognition by white people about the inherent racism that a black person faces in this country. It's easy to say, hey, look at Condi Rice, look at Colin Powell, this country will clearly let black people thrive and succeed. And the anecdotes are available to show it is possible, but the statistical reality is that race in America is still a very powerful force and white people generally, and white men in particular, truly are the beneficiaries of a pretty unfair system of economics, justice, and politics. This is hard to "get" if you are very invested in the entitlement that goes along with being white and the material edge, the consumer fallout of being white in America, is important to you.

It's easy to say, hey, if your grandfather was lynched 30 years before you were born, what does that have to do with you?

I don't know, if this is the picture you have of a grandfather that you never met, would that affect you?

Men and Women: I sometimes struggle to understand the politics of sexual politics. I get the issue that posting girly pictures objectifies women and that as a man, to do that, and to claim, hey, I will come to your protection if someone tries to rape or hurt you is really lame. I think the sexual violence begins with the objectification of women and to deny the reasonable oppression and fear that I imagine women experience about sexual violence is pretty arrogant.

I have a little more trouble "getting" the implications of the patriarchy at times. But I understand that like the fish who has trouble comprehending the concept of water, I believe I exist and benefit from a psycho-social milieu that is infused with patriarchy and I am a beneficiary of this unfair social arrangement. And in much the same sense that I think that some white men have trouble imagining the way a black man in America might feel, I think that it becomes a conscious choice to not "get" the patriarchy because it threatens privilege and entitlement that I enjoy. Once the issue is truly understood, it requires a change of life style, a surrender of entitlement that I am pretty fond of. I wonder if it is better if I work on that instead of trying to explain race to white men. But I also wonder if this is an either or situation or a both and situation? Can I work on my being with regard to gender justice even as I expend a little time and effort on race justice? Maybe.

I think there are many more men than women posting here. And around our community I think there are many more women than men preparing meals, doing laundry, reading to the children. And I know that some here will jump up and say, hey I do my own laundry and I carry the laundry openly to the laundromat, or I cook all my meals from scratch and I grow my own scratch, but I think the fact remains that there protests, even if true, are anecdotal only, and to the extent that anecdotes are presented as our collective experience, and our collective community experience is significantly different from the anecdotes, then the anecdotes are really untrue and their presentation masks a deeper issue about an unwillingness to surrender privilege and entitlement. These self-reports have to be taken with a grain of salt because the more important question with regard to these tasks is are men doing cooking, laundry, etc in the company or absence of a female partner or mother?

Ok, so a quick movie review:

The kids recommended "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" with Adam Sandler and we watched it. We think Sandler is funny generally and this is an amusing movie. And it may be seen as a movie about friendship, about the politics of same sex unions, gay marriage, all that stuff. To the extent that the movie (it's not a film) has a supportive story about love, all sorts of love, between men, and the challenge that a gay son may pose to a straight father, it still has lots of the standard homophobia of the culture stitched in as subtext. And it really reeks in terms of it's treatment of the female characters in the movie. The flimsy female attorney and doctor characters could have had some substance and that might have made this a good movie. I asked my partner how she felt about these jiggly, giggly, 2 dimensional characters and she said not too distressing and other parts were funny. I don't think she expects much from American movie comedies.

And maybe if the director/writers had written those parts with any gender sensibility, the jiggling, giggling girls in underwear would likely have been dispensed with in favor of more authentic footage about heterosexual interaction. The female parts in Knocked Up got a lot more consideration than the female parts in this movie. I am not sure that is setting the bar very high.

I look at a movie like Chuck and Larry and wonder why the writer/director didn't aspire to a final product with the quality of a movie like Shallow Hal that got to the heart of things by posing the question, what would we see if we could see the inner being instead of the outer being. If you have the choice, pick Shallow Hal instead of Chuck and Larry. And having made that choice, watch the movie with the director comments to hear how much the director/writers appreciated the actors who chose to help them make a good movie by playing the ugly duckling roles with their whole beings.

Merry Christmas to all,

Heading off to a little family time. My lovely daughter is cooking for a small gathering of the loved ones, mostly guys. Nuff said?

Comments

Interesting thoughts, Mike

I appreciate your thoughtful comments on patriarchy and its privileges. I know that I can't really understand all the ways in which white privilege works in my favor, but unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to talk about racism without being attacked. Likewise sexism, I'm sure.

This world's crazy, give me the gun. -- P.J. Harvey

like the fish who has trouble comprehending the concept of water

That is one of the purest descriptions of patriarchy for sure. Men can rarely have honest conversations about it because they don't get it. I can certainly step back and site statistics and point out overt things, but I can't even begin to imagine how a woman feels when she's alone in a room with a bunch of men and they are dominating the conversation. I've even seen this happen with conversations about patriarchy. I think in order to "fix" patriarchy it has to be done locally, and men just have to listen to women and do what they say.

How about just trying to be a good person?

I think if I worried about every advantage that my white, male status gave me, or every person that wasn't white and/or male and how I should change my life to make sure they are always equal.....I wouldn't have time to breathe.

One can acknowledge privilege

without being so consumed by it Norm. It's a rather simple change in perspective from "I deserve everything I have" to "I'm rather lucky and other folks are the worse for it."

So, change your perspective to

"I'm rather lucky and other folks are the worse for it." isn't consuming? Walking around with that thought in my head seems like a surefire way to be depressed. How about I just treat others like I would want them to treat me, and focus on the happier things in life?

Sure...

The change in perspective is a voluntary matter. Denial is still a rather popular option.

I think to some extent it goes back to entitlement

If the ability and decision to recognize privilege and advantage requires that a just and kind person give up something that they really don't want to give up, then a primary process may be self-delusion.  That way, a person can tell themselves I am a good person, see I open doors for women, without truly opening doors, opening the doors to power, opening the doors of perception to see bias, prejudice, injustice in race, gender, creed, national origin. 

Seeing the inherent injustice of race and gender puts a good person under an obligation to do something more than hold the door for the ladies. 

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." President Dwight D. Eisenhower April 16, 195

uh huh

Seeing the inherent injustice of race and gender puts a good person under an obligation to do something more than hold the door for the ladies. 

Such as? You seem to be pretty convinced on how others should be living their lives, give us an example here.

That doesn't work, Norm...

...unless you really understand the forces shaping your idea of what "a good person" is. A lot of good people (like my ancestors) usurped land from Native Americans, and gave them smallpox in the process. Being good people, they also gave them Bibles!

This world's crazy, give me the gun. -- P.J. Harvey

uh

my idea of being nice is holding the door open for folks and trying to listen and understand things. I don't plan on giving people blankets or trying to push my religion on them. I'm not going to walk around thinking, "Gee, my ancestors were terrible people so I should be ashamed of being a white man in this country."

Uh, how are you doing with the listening and understanding?

You seem to be a little defensive; I wasn't really suggesting you needed to feel guilty. I don't feel feel responsible for what my ancestors did, but I certainly have a different perspective on what being "good" does than they did. A lot of Germans probably have a different idea of what being a "good German" is than their grandparents did. I think sometimes a little insight is beneficial.

This world's crazy, give me the gun. -- P.J. Harvey

How am I misunderstanding?

You essentially said that my idea of "being good" could be skewed not unlike people from your past giving indians diseases and throwing bibles at them. Last time I checked I haven't forced my religion ( or lack of ) upon anyone, or given them a disease while claiming to be nice.

So is this


"Bad white man, no donut"? Or "Bad white man, be aware of how your ancestors screwed others over and try not to take advantage of how things allegedly are stacked in your favor?"

Either way how about instead of complaining about what a bunch of dead people did, focus on living a fair and balanced lifestyle?

I think some people feel empowered by picking on those they feel have more power than them.

I have said before, priveleged is as priveleged does.  If one applies themselves and carries on in a manner likely to enable success they have a better chance regardless of race or sex to achieve their goals than one who does not. 

Of course if that was the common thought then there would be nothing to complain about.

 

This is a non political tag line and cannot be linked up through a twisted thought process to an obscure company making specialty tools.  

How can you be fair and balanced

if you don't know how the scales are rigged? Nothing wrong about enlightening ourselves with an honest, critical examination of our past.

What's missing here?

I think maybe Norm (and maybe S6 too) are failing to get a key part of this. Perhaps Gug and Janet are failing in explaining it. Or both. Or none of those. Anyhow.

You don't have to lift a finger. You don't have to do a thing and you are taking advantage of your white, male, privilege. By simply being born with those traits you are taking part in oppression and suppression of women and minority groups. It's not your fault. You're not a bad person for it. You're a bad person if you take advantage of your privilege knowingly, and abuse it. You can also use your privilege to help others. I've been thinking about Camp Quixote lately. I used my privilege as a clean-cut, housed, white, man and helped them get started. The media would talk to me, so would officials and community members. I used the inherent respect that I received from strangers because of how I look to help the cause. When I realized they didn't need me anymore and that there was a great support structure in place I backed away. I was always very careful not to put myself before the camp, I wasn't doing it for notoriety or anything like that.

I don't know if this makes sense or not, but I'm trying to impress that privilege can't be helped, but it can be used against itself.

Perfect sense.

Perfect sense.

Now THAT makes sense

and no, unless I'm just terrible with reading comprehension, the message that you just posted did not come across anywhere else in this thread. Thanks

Glad that Rob was able to present it in a way that you could get

nt

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." President Dwight D. Eisenhower April 16, 195

How about this

 "Who gives a f---?"  I could care less about how I may or may not be part of some oppressor group.  If I am not oppressing people, who gives a f---?  By classifying people as "oppressors" or "oppressed" you are simply creating the opportunity for people to continue and further discrimination.  I refuse to acknowledge that by accident of birth I am part of some "oppressing class" because it is BULLSHIT.  I am who I am, not what someone with too much time on their hands decides to classify people...  My actions will speak for themselves not my race or sex. 

This is the modern racism.   

 

This is a non political tag line and cannot be linked up through a twisted thought process to an obscure company making specialty tools.  

"Modern racism?"

You mean the racism that explains why

  • almost half of all homicide victims are black?
  • black men are 5 times more likely to be incarcerated?
  • black people are 3 times more likely to live under the poverty level?
  • black infants are 3 times more likely to die before their first year?
  • native American teens are 2.5 times more likely to kill themselves?
  • there are funding gaps between minority, low-income urban schools and the suburbs?
  • people are still denied apartments and homes because of race?
  • ...more?

Sources:

 

And how's that racism and

And how's that racism and the fault of the White Man? So now it's a racist society when black fathers walk out on their kids and the kids kill their neighbors? Does that same "racist" society explain white trailor trash?

My white uncle had an addiction and did some jail time. How come in his case it's the consequences of his adult choices whereas if he had some color to his skin it be the result of a racist society?

My white cousin died of SIDS back in the 80s; how come in his case it was either genetics, or external criteria which we didn't understand back then, or even just the unlucky roll of Fate's dice but if he weren't a caucasian baby it'd be proof of a racist society?

I've been acquainted with two white friends who took their own lives, one at 17 the other at 19. In their case it was mental illness, or depression, but how come if they weren't white we'd be able to blame a racist society on their unfortunate choice?

Maybe if, like Bill Cosby said, they took responsibility for themselves and took advantage of the privileges others fought and died for to give them instead of wallowing in their self-pity and blaming others then those numbers you link to would go down.

If someone's response to this is going to be a flippant "you just don't get it" then don't bother...I get it alright. I get that some people are depressing, they're insecure with themselves, and they're trying to knock down people who feel good and are comfortable with themselves.

Red meat is NOT bad for you. Now blue-green meat, THAT'S bad for you!
Tommy Smothers

You know why they call it a blind spot?

Cause there's something there, but you don't see it.

Suggested reading:  Lettvin and Maturana's study about what the frog's eye tells the frog's brain. 

I have read about a Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles that part of the museum's display are two doors, one marked prejudiced, the other not prejudiced.  and the "not prejudiced door is locked to remind any of us who presume to think we are not prejudiced to recognize that our inability to recognize our own prejudices is a terrible blind spot. 

I am not asking anyone to engage in self-loathing, I am suggesting self-awareness and the recognition that we all have prejudices and blind spots is a good thing.  It may be that the blind spots will get smaller as we look harder at our own processes and take responsibility, as we strive to be generous and fair with all of the beings on the planet.  

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." President Dwight D. Eisenhower April 16, 195

What are your prejudices?

What are your prejudices? Would you be honest enough to share them with us? I'm being serious and promise not to judge, but unless you're willing to tell us who you fear, or despise, based on their color or creed or heritage then it leaves little incentive to check within myself.

Red meat is NOT bad for you. Now blue-green meat, THAT'S bad for you!
Tommy Smothers

I don't think we're talking about blatant prejudices and racism

at least I'm not. All you have to do is take the implicit racial bias test to see how even the most "fair-minded" person can display an innate bias against other groups. I think it is important to be aware of these tendencies no matter how subtle. This is NOT about getting all white men to admit they are racist. But there are outright racists out there, the rest of us have our innate biases to one degree or another, and all that contriubtes to race-based problems in our culture.

As I have already stated,

I know there are things I do not get about patriarchy.  I get impatient working backwards on race stuff that I think I truly get with folks who appear to be so blind to race in part because it distracts me from working on my own prejudices and privileges with regard to gender issues. 

I have biases and prejudices about class and wealth.  I look at folks who inherit wealth, who get all the breaks in the world given to them and then have the arrogance to declare themselves "self-made men" and I don't think I give those folks a fair shake.  

You look at a person like Nobel and see that he amassed his fortune on explosives and late in life, he establishes a fund to reward peace and good work.  I have a tendency to think that is a little late in the game to decide that becoming a philanthropist will balance against the pain and destruction that was the foundation of Nobel's fortune.  

I value the eight fold path:  Right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. 

Right livelihood is important.  A long life led in wrong livelihood creates great suffering. I don't think you get to buy your way out with an endowment or two, I think I have some prejudices and bias in that area. 

I think right action, right mindfulness, right concentration cannot be met with a focus on personal wealth and power.  Some of my bias and prejudices spring from my thoughts about the eight fold path.  As long as I am expending effort on trying to explain race, entitlement, privilege to folks who really don't want to understand these realities, especially if it puts any responsibility on them to give up anything - the advantages they say don't have etc, then I am attached/committed to a struggle that causes suffering.   

That's a bit of a ramble, but that is the problem with our bias and prejudices, if we don't recognize them, work on them, then they stay an undifferentiated jumble of vague ideas and feelings and there is no change in the way each of us really works in the world each day.  

 

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." President Dwight D. Eisenhower April 16, 195

Your anecdotes

do not outweigh the enormously convincing aggregate data to the contrary. No one is denying that there are poor white people. And no one is saying that some white people are not affected by other social or institutional ills in our culture. But the stuborn truth is that white people are significantly less likey to be poor than other groups and they are less likely to suffer many other social and medical ills. Why do you think that is the case? Are you suggesting that "bad choices" are sufficient to answer that question? Not sure what kind of effective choices a black infant has.

Not sure what kind of

Not sure what kind of effective choices a black infant has

The black infant's parents have the same choices, and the same capacity to make them, as white parents.

I see that white anecdotes are immaterial while all other anecdotes are proof positive. Why is that? Could it be an inherent racism against Caucasians which is made all the more easier by humble white folks holding their hat in their hands and keeping their eyes to the ground?

The way things are going there won't be any satisfaction until the jails only hold white criminals, and that all positions of power including teachers are not represented by caucasians.

Can I get a free pass if I convert to Judaism? I have Jewish cousins and my Grandma's genealogy was traced back to Russian Jews so I have some sort of blood-rite. Especially since it all happened well before I was born.

Red meat is NOT bad for you. Now blue-green meat, THAT'S bad for you!
Tommy Smothers

All anecdotes are suspect

unless they are supported by data that suggest the anecdotes represent a human face, a human story that is other wise missing from the data. But if I had to take data or anecdotes, give me data every day of the week. (and I love hypotheticals!)

Catastrophizing the request for sensitivity and self-awareness in this way: "The way things are going there won't be any satisfaction until the jails only hold white criminals, and that all positions of power including teachers are not represented by caucasians." is effective rhetoric, but it is still rhetoric.

I think it is safe to say that is not the way things are going. Only Rush Limbaugh and his friends crank out that kind of rhetoric and I don't think they believe it, it is simply a political use of language, a rhetorical device.

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." President Dwight D. Eisenhower April 16, 195

Merwyn

"black infant's parents have the same choices, and the same capacity to make them, as white parents." They do? You don't think poverty, level of education, living environment, and social networks have anything to do with a parent's capacity to make decisions? That's odd.

I am not using any anecdotal information. Everything I provided is based on aggregate data, not just hand-picked stories. There is a huge difference between the two modes of analysis, one being that anecdote-based generalizations are almost useless. We are talking about identifying general trends in a large populaiton, not your hard-drinking uncle. And no one wants jails with only white folks in them. Our social contract forbids me from honestly characterizing that statement. 

Erg...

"black infant's parents have the same choices, and the same capacity to make them, as white parents." They do? You don't think poverty, level of education, living environment, and social networks have anything to do with a parent's capacity to make decisions? That's odd.

 

The opportunity to take part in standard public education is there for everyone.  I'm not sure what social networks  you are talking about, but I have to wonder if the "gangsta" culture has any bearing at all on black society.  Maybe I'm stupid enough to swallow the crap that suggests in the US ANYONE who applies themselves has a fighting chance.  Maybe I'm stupid enough to assume that I should look at people as people, and not think about if I am part of the "oppressing class" or if they are "oppressed" minorities, or whatever.  Maybe I am just so damn stupid to think if I don't classify people based on race, sex, religious belief, or other classifications that they all become people.

Yes there are differences in incacarceration, homicde and suicide rates.  Maybe their society needs some work.  Oops, can't suggest that.  Quite frankly I get sick of talking to african americans (and I don't buy this hyphonated american crap either) who sound like they jess walked off the massa's plantayshun, and have spent a life wallowing in ignorance.  I get sick of talking to white people who sound like undeducated hillbillies and have spent their life wallowing in ignorance.  I fail to see how skin tone has to do with someone taking advantage of the opportunities to better themselves.  Stupid is as stupid does, and has no skin color.

If you want to stay in the oppressing/oppressor class system, go for it.  Myself, I will stay in the "human being" class system. 

 

This is a non political tag line and cannot be linked up through a twisted thought process to an obscure company making specialty tools.  

"standard public education"

"standard public education" system offers equal educational opportunities to everyone? What country are you talking about? I am eagerly waiting to see the evidence for that statement.

Given the overwhelming statistical evidence that "race matters" and has grave consequences in America, I see no rational reason to ignore all the possible contributing factors. And systemic and institutional racial bias is one of them. Ignoring it simply because you don't like the idea is not the best approach to public policy or your own personal development.

There is much more to these problems than people just failing to take advantage of the opportunities available to them. Why end your critical thinking there? It's like assuming the only thing that coan ever go wrong with your car is running out of gas.

Those operating

The car have to take maintence steps on a regular basis.  Those who have children must take steps to ensure their children are raised properly and recieve every chance for an education.  When I see kids with no family life running wild, is the system at fault, or their own family?  I say the family, but others will blame the system.  I guess the government needs to interfere with family life now too.

 

This is a non political tag line and cannot be linked up through a twisted thought process to an obscure company making specialty tools.  

Maitenence is important

But you missed th entire point of the analogy. You appear to think there is only one single reason that some people may be left behind. In doing so you are ignoring all the other things that can go wrong with "your car." Six, it is a combination of both, individuals and society that shapes outcomes. We do not live in a vacuum unaffected by everyone around us. As for gvernment interference, I certainly don't mind child labor laws, mandatory basic education, child nutrition programs, and parent educaiton. Wow, what dreadful meddling!

The issue of race v. self-reliance is not an either or

proposition. I think it is a both and proposition. There is nothing wrong with a person taking it on themselves to succeed and take care of themselves and their family members. In fact, it's just fine, I don't think there is anything wrong with it. And identifying the part that race, gender, creed, orientation, etc play in giving some folks a very poor deal does not take anything away from self-reliance and independence. People often throw up the self-reliance thing like you can't identify prejudice and bias in culture without throwing away the self-reliance value. There is no need to say because there is bias that we should recognize and work to overcome, to level the playing field, that we should not honor every individual who succeeds against all odds. Let's just make the odds a little more even if you know what I mean.

My lack of trust in folks who oppose a just and fair society by arguing that race, gender, etc does not really have a great deal to do with our lives today is that I think they may be refusing to identify the obvious, statistically significant part that race, gender etc play in our society because they do not want to give away the advantage they claim does not exist.

S6, do you think your experience with open carry would be different if you were black? Bad as your experience already is with open carry, could it be worse if your skin had a little deeper tone? or your faith requires that you wear a turban?

 

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." President Dwight D. Eisenhower April 16, 195

Turban?

"Security Sikhs?"

LOL


n/t

 

This is a non political tag line and cannot be linked up through a twisted thought process to an obscure company making specialty tools.  

I doubt it

I know of several people of color who OC, and they do not have any more than the usual run of problems...  They are in Virigina which has a growing OC movement.  I personally do not know any in Washington, however stories and reports I have seen elsewhere in the nation do not indicate any problems.  I know a guy who OC'd at Pride this year in Seatte as well.

 

 

This is a non political tag line and cannot be linked up through a twisted thought process to an obscure company making specialty tools.