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Whites Never Have To Explain Their Actions As a Race

March 18, 2015

This is well written and worth pondering.  Mostly because it is true.

The actions of the University of Oklahoma Sigma Alpha Epsilon brothers have resulted in the university cutting ties with the fraternity, but for the most part, the focus has been on the men in the video. Not on their fraternity brothers, or on other chapters of the fraternity, or on the gender- and race-exclusive institution of Greek life. For a largely black protest movement, the ripples of damage spread, touching the entire body of the movement. For the white men of SAE, the laws of physics are different, and the ripples don’t spread in the same way. The conservative gospel of “individual responsibility” is, in this case, a luxury that white people enjoy, but that black people are denied.

When black people break the law or flout social norms in the United States, the public conversation immediately turns to the broader concept of blackness itself. What does this one person’s behavior tell us, we ask, about the supposedly corroded and corrosive state of black America? What is wrong, we ask, with African Americans?

When white people misbehave, however, they rarely represent more than themselves, even when they’re members of an organization like, say, SAE. But just the responsibility of being held accountable for how one’s individual behavior and thoughts is still too great for so many of the white people who have been caught out engaging in racist behavior. They are routinely defended with excuses of inebriation, misspeaking, and unintentional bigotry. Even then, being white often means doing wrong without the perception of bringing your entire race into enough disrepute that it has consequences for you. This is what privilege is: to speak and act only for yourself, and even then only when you feel like it.

  1. March 20, 2015 2:33 PM

    The other thing I am trying to be mindful of is not taking the love of my city more into the equation and thereby missing things I might see if I did not live here. But I am most candid when I say I can not see a racial motive to the most recent event. I also want to say that I think these larger type of conversations are the type we all should have more of not only in this city but around the state and nation.

  2. March 20, 2015 2:29 PM

    What bothers me about Skip’s comment the most was that I should have talked with the protesters! But since I am not at all convinced with the facts I now know that there was a racial connection to the shooting in question then his desire for me to talk with protestors is moot. They are protesting for something that in fact was not present with this shooting.

  3. March 20, 2015 2:12 PM

    Notice how Skip demands you show empathy? I’m pretty sure that if some poor guy showed up on your doorstep, you’d make him some 5-course vegetarian meal or something, but Skip needs to know if you have demonstrated sufficient empathy as a white person to atone for the sins of other white people. Otherwise, don’t you dare talk.

  4. March 20, 2015 2:06 PM

    Perhaps whites do not make that kind of statement (re: Oklahoma) but other groups certainly do. Are you suggesting, for example, that when the Sikh Temple in Milwaukee was shot up that nobody asked where all the racism and hostility came from? Or, where the weapons came from?

    And even if it were all true–and not just politically correct–it certainly is not new. Some version of the same is run in conjunction with every racial conflict which happens. Not only is it contrary to human nature, but also it rejects the very idea of a united society by suggesting that members of one ethnic group should not mention or ask about problems within another (unless you are a liberal, of course).

  5. March 20, 2015 11:37 AM


    There is no way to say what this post points out is not the case in this nation. Whites as a group do not need to explain the actions of their race. But you and I have talked about how those of the Islam faith need to address the actions of headline makers. Blacks have had to address the actions of the shooting victim in Madison. Whites as a group do not make those same kind of statements when say the Oklahoma bombing took place etc.

  6. Tom permalink
    March 20, 2015 9:10 AM

    This is precisely why your white liberal buddies won’t step up to support the police. Do you even see it?

    To ask if one member of Gifted and Black or whatever has read to a child is to suggest none of them has–at least to your white liberal buddies. The answer to that question and the others in the post by De Blaska would provoke unpleasant discussions which might result in someone being called racist. Therefore, it will not happen–certainly this is something the vast majority of liberal Madison cannot handle.

    I do applaud you for being less than totally crazy.

  7. tom permalink
    March 18, 2015 8:46 PM

    Lol! Everyone knows white men are bigots in every sense of the word. I don’t know what aspects of culture you are paying attention to, but there is certainly no shortage or articles and stories in print, radio, or wherever to remind white men of the patriarchy or rape culture or homophobia or islamophobia or ableism or whatever other social ill you what to mention. Go see Selma, Twelve Years a Slave, or any of the similarly themed movies. Listen to the average guests during a week of Fresh Air. Even a quick survey of the student groups at Madison or any other university wold provide further confirmation that the actions of individual white men certainly are used to create the same generalizations white men are, of course and eternally, guilty of here. Privilege is an industry! A phenom! Google white privilege and browse the 18 million hits.

    Of course, another constant reminder never hurts.

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