I am 99.9% of European descent
F rench and German, Scandinavian, British & Irish, broadly Northwestern European. I have 0.01% unassigned DNA. And I have 0.00% recent ancestors who are Jewish, Southern European, Central or South Asian, Native American, Melanesian, Sub-Saharan African, or Western or North African. I’m lily-white, “Caucasian” to the bone.
I have more Neanderthal DNA, than 37% of other humans. It predisposes me to having a worse sense of direction, being less likely to have a fear of heights, being a better sprinter than distance runner, being more likely to sweat during a workout, having more dandruff, being less likely to blush easily. All these genetic predispositions are true. They are things that I knew about myself before I saw the DNA report.
I am male, heterosexual, and cisgender. Sexually open-minded, but not gay nor trans.
I didn’t have any choice about any of this. I can’t take credit or blame. Who I am, was passed almost entirely down to me through my genes.
I was born this way.
And I was born extremely privileged in other ways. My parents were cult leaders and our family lived very well on other people’s money. Had we lived on our own, rather than in a series of cult compounds, our lifestyle would have been equivalent to the top 1%. Fine clothes and fine food, prepared daily by personal cooks. Private tutoring. Constant air-travel, attending top schools, taking luxurious vacations. Looking back, it was an absurd way to live, that had absolutely nothing to do with nobility, justice or virtue. But when you’re born into entitlement like that, you don’t notice. Especially when everyone constantly tells you how great and special you are. A lot of people born into that kind of privileged existence delude themselves into believing they earned it. And that’s the entire problem with privilege—writ large. It makes people blind not only to themselves, but to the suffering of those less fortunate. I was all of those things.
Whatever I might have ever had to complain about, I’m over it. But growing up the son of cult leaders wasn’t any picnic. Suffering is relative. Any child of wealth will tell you that there’s plenty of misery involved. It doesn’t often look like that from the outside. But privilege of birth makes a person keenly aware that they sit atop a precarious power structure. Concentrated power attracts crises—like moths to a flame. Young scions see the endless rivalries around them, and strive to live up to the impossible expectations of the patriarch or matriarch of the family. What I wanted most of all was to be ordinary, and I had to leave the cult and its money behind to achieve that. We might not have had to play “Boar on the Floor,” when I was growing up, but there were a lot of other sadistic games that hurt. Because suffering is a part of the human condition. It finds everyone.
Wealthy people mistakenly believe that since their money buys them protection from everything else, it should somehow protect them from experiencing heartbreak, addiction, loss, sickness, ruin, divorce, domestic abuse and other forms of trauma. It doesn’t. The only thing growing up wealthy does, is to ensure that any suffering isn’t likely to be financial.
There’s a parallel with the suffering of white Americans who aren’t rich. Whiteness doesn’t insulate them from suffering. Whiteness doesn’t mean that white people don’t struggle. It means they don’t suffer or struggle because of the color of their skin.
This privilege of whiteness, regardless of how poor someone might be, does the same thing to white people, as wealth does to the kids of the wealthy. It makes them blind to themselves, and to the suffering of those less privileged.
White privilege nation
I run across petulant expressions of white privilege all the time.
Imagine being so checked out of reality, as to deny terrible systemic racism when it’s staring you right in the face.
Imagine looking at the incalculable suffering of black Americans—as they watch other innocent black people being gunned down on America’s streets. And then saying “All Lives Matter!” Who is fooling anyone but themselves?
Imagine black people making a simple and powerful statement of identity, and a cry for justice: “Black Lives Matter,” only to hear a bunch of privileged white assholes whining “Blue Lives Matter,” as a retort. As if cops didn’t have qualified immunity and million-dollar police union defense funds in murder cases. Blue lives have not only always mattered, they have always been above the very laws they enforce.
Imagine Colin Kaepernick taking a knee in peaceful protest of police murders. And others he inspired later being referred to as a “sonofabitch” who “maybe shouldn’t be in the country,” by the President of the United States.
Imagine Derek Chauvin taking a knee for nine minutes to fatally block the airway of black suspect George Floyd over a fake $20 bill, and then imagine that there are still millions of white Americans who labeled the ensuing protests as “riots” and “terrorist attacks.”
Imagine then, at his murder trial, when Derek Chauvin’s attorneys attack the character, health, life history, and struggles with addiction of the murdered man, George Floyd. Never mind that if Derek Chauvin had simply placed him in cuffs peacefully, instead of kneeling on his neck for nine minutes, no trial would be taking place.
Imagine when patriotic Americans of all races come out dressed in black and put their bodies on the line to confront America’s home-grown and heavily armed neo-fascists. Instead of being recognized as heroes—defenders of the nation—they are the ones accused of being “antifa” terrorists.
If “antifa” are the “terrorists,” what do you call Nazis with guns?
Imagine thousands of white Christian nationalists attacking the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and threatening to kill sitting members of Congress and the Vice President—and almost no deadly force is used against them.
Imagine the political instigators of the Capitol insurrection and clown show, trying to pretend it was leftists or “antifa” instead of their own violent white supremacist goons they’d organized at the direction of the outgoing president.
Yes, folks, white privilege is ugly, ugly, ugly, to its core.
Imagine being so privileged as to be an unapologetic racist, who’s never experienced actual racism?
Imagine getting so upset at being called a “racist” as to pretend that’s equivalent to the experience of actual racism?
Imagine responding to the murder of Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, or Ahmaud Arbery, and finding fault with the victim? Schoolteacher Philando Castile was with his girlfriend and child. Trayvon Martin was walking home. Tamir Rice was a 12-year-old with a toy gun. Breonna Taylor was sleeping. George Floyd was begging for his mother. Ahmaud Arbery was jogging. None of these highly publicized black victims committed a crime remotely proportionate to summary execution.
Imagine my lack of surprise, then when Minneapolis 26-year veteran police officer Kim Potter claimed to have mistaken her gun for a taser, and shot Daunte Wright dead. For the apparently capital crime of having air-freshener hanging from his rear-view mirror. Such “mistakes” don’t tend to happen when the suspect is white.
”Should have complied.” “Blacks commit more crimes.” “Blacks kill each other in Chicago.” “BLM are terrorists.” “They burned a bunch of buildings.”
Does it get any uglier than this?
Lynchings of black people, by white people, have been taking place in America my entire life, and of course long before I was born. In my sheltered California existence, far from the South, I had thought the Civil War ended all that carnage. But when I was about 13, I remember some whispered conversations I had with other boys in the cult high school in the late 1970s. Some of them were from the South. In between racist jokes, they took a more serious tone, and explained to me that in many parts of the country, “n____s” would still be killed by the Ku Klux Klan, if they “stepped out of line.” I remember being shocked by this, and wondering out loud whether such killers were caught and punished. “Oh no, the cops are in on it,” they assured me. It was the first time I understood that there really were two systems of justice. And it was considered “normal” by those boys for black people in the South to be executed by whites.
Then in 1984, there was Bernhard Goetz who shot four black teenagers on a New York subway because they asked him for money, paralyzing one of them for life. Then in 1998, James Byrd, Jr. was dragged to his death behind a pickup truck in Texas by white supremacists. I felt these tragedies as if they had happened to me or someone in my family. And it wasn’t just black people who were dying because of hate. I felt deeply about the murder of the young, gay Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, also in 1998. I put myself in the shoes of those who died. I used to have nightmares of what it would be like to be dragged behind a pickup truck. The concept of “worthy” and “unworthy” victims was something that didn’t come easily to me. A life is a life, isn’t it? Isn’t the law, the law?
Not in white privilege nation.
Innocent people are being killed, and white Americans in large numbers don’t see themselves reflected in those victims. That might be the most damning white privilege of all. Instead of empathy, instead of imaging themselves or a member of their family being shot or choked or dragged for no good reason, they see fellow Americans somehow deserving of being murdered by vigilantes, or under color of authority, paid for with taxpayers money. It’s almost as if the fact of being killed itself makes the victim guilty. “Well, they’re dead, aren’t they?” Confronting the awful injustice requires questioning just a little bit too much of their treasured American mythology.
This cannot be allowed to stand. I won’t allow it to stand. If you’re white, and racist, and you’re blocking accountability, with racist lies and conspiracy theories, prepare for me to call you out and denounce you, at every opportunity.
We are not the world
There’s no doubt about it. People who look like me have terribly unfair advantages in American society. And it’s not just here. Across the entire post-colonial world, light skin confers advantages, even in places with a large majority of dark-skinned people. As it turns out, the whole world is a place with a large majority of dark-skinned people. 84% of the globe’s population is non-white. People who look like me only represent 16% of the world’s population, and that also includes a lot of white people with a much more diverse DNA profile than I have. In the white-privilege Olympics, I’m likely in the top 10% of the Northern European scale. In other words, really fucking privileged!
And that sucks. Not because I have “white man’s guilt.” Nor do I “hate my own race” or any of that other white-idiot, Nazi, straw-man, garbage. It sucks because people who look like me have committed some of the most barbaric acts in world history, and many continue to do so. It sucks because when a person of color sees me on the street, who they see is someone who looks very much like a person who treated their ancestors inhumanely. And I never know what kind of daily trauma any person of color I meet may be dealing with. The way things are going in the United States, some white person could have easily committed a hate-crime against them that day! And I will be judged accordingly.
A person of color could therefore be forgiven for labeling me, before meeting me, as “white trash,” “wypipo,” “cracker,” “honky,” “hillbilly,” “good ol’ boy,” “redneck,” or “peckerwood.” Thank heavens this isn’t Facebook, because any of those racial slurs against whites will get you banned—in spite of white privilege. And that’s a whole other topic.
By including white racial slurs among the banned words on Facebook, Zuckerberg is ignoring privilege, and the difference between punching up and punching down. He is drawing a false equivalence between slurs said by privileged white people about the less privileged, and slurs said about white people by those they still oppress, and their white allies. Zuckerberg doesn’t want to let me criticize my own. How many white people have gone to Facebook jail for correctly calling other white people with trashy views, “white trash?” This sidesteps reams of American history—and is practically as egregious in its hostility toward people of color, as Holocaust denial is toward Jews.
We’ve all heard the absolute nonsense about “reverse racism.” The most notorious example of this is when Tuckkker Carlson misapplies the words of Martin Luther King, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Carlson pretends that a person of color correctly judging white people to be members of an oppressive majority, is committing an act of racism.
More than four centuries of European oppression, and genocide of people of color, are enough to justify any person of color judging my male-cracker ass, for the color of my skin. I carry centuries-worth of a white man’s burden of proof. Which I can only overcome, by demonstrating to people of color with actions, the content of my character. And how it differs from their lived experience of other white men.
If you want to be an ally to people of color in the fight for justice and equality, this is how you need to start thinking about your relationship to them. When you meet a person of color, you’re starting out way underwater. Sorry if you don’t like it, but that’s the way it is. Our ancestors got too much free shit from their ancestors to expect anything but suspicion.
When white people buy into the batshit white nationalist propaganda of “replacement theory,” or “white genocide,” they are telling black people that they will never have equality as long as white people live. And that if black people try too hard to protect their own human rights, white people will consider it to be a threat to white existence—and there will be bloodshed.
The Fourteen Words make this threat explicit, under the razor-thin pretense of caring about the future of “white children.” Every form of hateful reactionary policy, right up to genocide, is always “for the children,” isn’t it?
Against that backdrop, Tuckkker Carlson wants white people to be judged on the “content of their character?” The character of white Americans is largely atrocious and he damn well knows it. He’s the poster boy for the idea that white people can’t be judged at all.
To judge a white person, or hold them accountable, in his view, is “cancel culture.”
Because in Tuckkker’s world, white people are the only ones who get to judge. And be on juries. And act as executioners. He’s as devastatingly effective a white supremacist as any Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who has ever lived. Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, publisher of The Daily Stormer, calls Carlson “literally our greatest ally.”
You expect black people to put up with that kind of white hate being broadcast daily to millions, and still treat white people with dignity and respect?
Sounds about white.
Yes, all wypipo
My profile picture reads, “Anti-racist,” and “Anti-fascist.” And I catch no end of snowflakey pushback from other wypipo about it. A white racist hates white anti-racists, even more than s/he hates black people. It’s to the point now, where every time I’m commenting on an article from a large mainstream source, someone will inevitably stalk my profile and claim that because I’m a “socialist,” or support “antifa,” that my opinions are not to be taken seriously. I’m fine with that. My goal is to expose them directly and personally to an anti-racist white man, and to let them know that there are more like me who are watching them—that they will not get away with their open expressions of hatred.
I expect their insults, and welcome them.
So how many white Americans are racist? All of us. There’s no such thing as a white American who’s “not racist.” There are only racists, and anti-racists. No one gets to sit on the sidelines. At best, white anti-racists get to describe ourselves as “recovering racists.”
Because as long as white privilege still exists in terms of norms and laws, any white person is perfectly capable of putting it to use. It’s a lifelong struggle to stand for justice, and none of us is perfect, least of all me.
If you’re a white anti-racist, you will be repeatedly tested. Be ready, and stay off your high horse. You’re only as good as your latest actions in support of justice. And you can fail anytime.
To declare oneself above racism, that one doesn’t “see color,” is to assume that air of pretense, that Elie Wiesel famously skewered when he said “Neutrality favors the oppressor.” But it’s even worse than that.
Here we all sit, on land stolen from Native Americans, members of a mostly white nation that has abused millions upon millions of black bodies for labor, profit, and sex-slavery, for many centuries. And we have the audacity to claim that we “don’t see color?” How fucking convenient for us!
The essence of racism is therefore racism denial. The worst insult you can commit toward a Black American is not calling them the n-word. That’s bad enough and if you do it, you should suffer serious consequences. But far more dehumanizing is the refusal to acknowledge their struggle. It’s a struggle of the past, but it’s also very much present.
Slavery is not over. It continues in the American prison system. It continues with low wages. It continues in the form of police violence. We all know the statistics. Black people are about 13% of the American population, and only hold about 0.5% of the nation’s wealth. That’s the same percentage black people held at Emancipation. The entire African-American diaspora has remained effectively frozen in time, financially, for 158 years. That is why there’s talk of reparations.
But how many white people actively participate in perpetuating active present-day racial hatred? I think there are a couple of good measures of this: 62% of white men and 47% of white women voted for Donald Trump in 2016. It didn’t stop there. After Donald Trump lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden, fully 55% of the Republican party believed that the election was stolen from Donald Trump by voters of color. And they’re now trying to change laws in dozens of states to reduce the participation of non-white voters.
Can anyone imagine a worse insult, than disenfranchisement, on top of prison-slavery, on top of rollbacks of civil rights, on top of police violence? Every self-respecting white democrat, anti-racist needs to push back on this disgraceful lie, at every opportunity.
Don’t tone police me, bro
Imagine my surprise when calling out white privilege, getting pushback from someone who claims to support “antifa,” and “BLM?”
This form of tone policing is also very common when calling out religion. It’s the old “alienating potential allies” nonsense. Whenever someone claims that you’re “alienating potential allies,” it means you’re alienating THEM!
This is a universal law. If someone is worried you’ll alienate allies by being “too forceful,” or “lumping in extremists with moderates,” what they are telling you is that THEY are the very moderates you’re talking about. The very same “white moderates” Martin Luther King decried in his Letter from Birmingham Jail.
Tone policing is a way of expressing opposition to social justice, while dishonestly claiming to support it.
Any white person who isn’t willing to call out other white people, forcefully and consistently, is no ally of racial justice. Just as any religious person who isn’t willing to call out other religious people for their theocratic behavior, is no ally to secularism.
Basically, what tone policers are saying is this: “I support BLM and antifa, if you’re not too vocal about them. But if you keep calling out white people, you’re going to piss me off, and I might stop supporting BLM and antifa, because in reality I care more about my white privilege and protecting the feelings of other white people, than I actually care about justice.”
This is disingenuous and dangerous shit. And you should be fully prepared for it.
White privilege is the wiliest of enemies. It hides. It dodges. It weaves. It’s not just a danger to black people, but it’s also a danger to our very democracy and the rule of law. Which, I might add, has been saved over and over again by black democrats.
White privilege is—in a word—fascism. And confronting it leaves absolutely no one the luxury of refusing to take sides.