Wednesday, February 6, 2013

It's Been a Privilege

All across the vast spaces of the internet, and specifically that ribald hippy commune known as Twitter, Salon "journalists" Joan Walsh and David Sirota caused quite a stir.  You see, Ms. Walsh completely misquoted Goldie Taylor, an MSNBC contributor, author, and former Marine about a tweet that she made about drones, and Walsh and Sirota went on to try to whitesplain* privilege to a whole bunch of black folks.

For the uninitiated, whitesplain means what it sounds like.  White people in the professional left who try to  explain things like why there is no "white privilege" and the silly Negroes just don't understand how down for the cause their white asses are.  People trying to act like they know the struggles of other cultures because they read it somewhere in a book or 'have [insert minority] friends'.

I'm a white guy (shocking!).  It took me years to understand that while I can commiserate with the struggles of my Female, Persons of Color, Gay or Lesbian friends, I can never really escape the fact that I'm white and straight therefore I have been afforded a certain privilege.

It's like this. I grew up poor. I was a fat kid (still am). I was a smart kid and talked too much. I was mercilessly teased about being fat, a red head, a bit of a crybaby, a momma's boy. You name it and I had to make myself overcome it.  Despite all of that, because I'm white, I still had a leg up in this country compared to a black kid that went through the same experiences.

And it took me years to get that through my thick head.

Today I communicate with a vast array of People of Color, LGBT folks and white folks through Twitter, and in real life.  I listen (or read) what they have to say, I ask their perspective and get their advice before saying something that could be offensive.

Being culturally sensitive is not something that is hard to do.  It takes work, introspection and a willingness to admit that yeah, I've had it better because I'm a white dude. I work to get beyond my own short comings when it comes to privilege.

I do this, not because I condescend to have a few minority friends.  I do it because despite everything I've experienced, I'll never fully understand their struggles.  I do it because their struggle continues.  When professional lefties like Sirota and Walsh try to scoff off privilege, I feel it is incumbent that a person who had the same privilege calls out their condescension.

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