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 Post subject: White privilege?
 Post Posted: Thu Mar 28, 2013 11:36 pm 
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Ngau and I were having a conversation with our friend, who happens to be Indian (why this is relevant will be apparent). We were talking about how this guy we knew once walked across all of America. In some of the small towns he passed through, there was so little else going on that he became a very brief local celebrity, attracting media attention and people volunteering to feed and house him overnight. Our Indian friend said "That's the thing, only a white guy could do that. Anybody else would get their ass kicked."

Agree? Disagree?

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 Post subject: Re: White privilege?
 Post Posted: Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:19 am 
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Depends on the time period. Nowadays? I'd disagree. 50 or 60 years ago I would have agreed. Attitudes are slowly changing for the better in most regards.

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 Post subject: Re: White privilege?
 Post Posted: Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:34 am 
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Hmmmm.

I WOULD disagree, if not for a guy that was featured on This American Life a few months ago. He wanted to walk across America the way a woman did repeatedly in the 60s and 70s. I think she went by the moniker freedom prophet or something similar. Anyway, she walked with nothing but the clothes on her back, and relied on the kindness of strangers for food and places to sleep.

This guy, who was having a crisis of faith, decided to do the same thing. He gave away his stuff, pulled out his money, said goodbye on Facebook to his friends, and started walking.

Only, he was not a tiny white woman. He was a tall black man. He rarely got a hitch, he rarely ran into anyone willing to let him warm up in the house, let alone sleep there. He had no food, and as the weather got colder, his jacket became not enough. He passed as far as one state before giving up and calling his mother. I think he lasted two weeks.

I know there's more to the story, but I can't remember it all. However, I know him being a tall black man was considered a factor for why he didn't get far, along with a few other things.

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 Post subject: Re: White privilege?
 Post Posted: Fri Mar 29, 2013 9:51 am 
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An other question would be, could a tiny white woman do it today? I have the general impression, that people got less trusting towards strangers in general since the 70s, but it's hard to know if i am right. Or if there is a difference between urban and rural areas.

If someone comes to me with such a story, regardless of demographics i guess my first thought will be, that this is some short con. And i am pretty used to encounters with beggars, who have more or (usually) less plausible explainations, how they got into their situation. Such a vagabonds apeals to kindness likely will simply land in my "spamfilter".

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 Post subject: Re: White privilege?
 Post Posted: Fri Mar 29, 2013 11:51 pm 
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I think the question of could only a white guy do it leaves too much to the randomness of who the traveler runs into. Racism may have lessened but it is not gone. Do I think a black (or other race) man could trek across the country if he sticks to it? Yes. Do I also think there is a risk of running into some violent bigoted idiot? Yes. I can't even say it would be safer for someone to just make sure to pick a route avoiding the south. Life here is funny (as in strange, not amusing) in that there is quite a bit of ill feelings between racial groups remaining, but people have an obsession with projecting an image of hospitality. Social pressure keeps the majority at least behaving nice, but you never know when that will fail with individuals.

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 Post subject: Re: White privilege?
 Post Posted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 12:48 am 
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s.i.l. wrote:
I think the question of could only a white guy do it leaves too much to the randomness of who the traveler runs into. Racism may have lessened but it is not gone. Do I think a black (or other race) man could trek across the country if he sticks to it? Yes. Do I also think there is a risk of running into some violent bigoted idiot? Yes.


One of the most powerful things the civil rights movement did was to establish --or rather, reveal --an indelible link between racial prejudices, legal segregation, and brutal violence.

However, prejudices of a subtler type --prejudices that may float beneath the threshold of consciousness --can have a very large impact in the aggregate. Would nearly all of us feel at least slightly less safe with a houseguest (a stranger) who was black rather than white? Very likely yes. It's a unconscious reaction to the ubiquitous media depictions of blacks as criminals. Even I feel that way, and I'm black myself.

Multiply that by the hundreds of strangers you'd have to rely on during such a journey, and I'd say yes, it would be much harder to make that trip as a black person.

Conversely, it would probably be safer to make the trip as a man of any race than as a woman of any race --the world women live in is a more hostile and dangerous one than the one men live in.

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 Post subject: Re: White privilege?
 Post Posted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:07 am 
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To be completely honest here, I know a lot of white people who are very intimidated when dealing with black people. I'm perfectly fine with them, but I've lived with black guys pretty much throughout all of my college life. The reasons for the fear are very simple - 1) There are still a lot of places where white people never have the chance to meet a black person and form their own opinion. Prior to coming to college, I'd never met a single black person, because I grew up in rural Indiana. 2) When white people hear about black people, we never hear about that nice black father down the street who walks his kids to school every day. Instead, we hear about gang violence, hate crimes, and racism - the latter two often on committed by white people. So we hear about these dangerous black gangs, and we hear all of these reasons that black people might want to get back at us... and it scares people.

Now, with regards to the whole 'walking the earth deal' - you could just as easily say that it is 'male privilege' as well. After all, if it was a white woman, sure she might be taken in by people... but I can't guarantee she would be safe the way that a man would. Of course, it also has to do with exactly where you are traveling. There are certain places in certain cities that are straight up not safe, period - I've known at least one guy who ended up in the wrong part of town in a place and had a cop tell him to get the hell out of there while he was still alive, even going so far as to follow him to the interstate to ensure he would get out safely. I know that if some random stranger asked to stay in my house, I'd tell him no unless he had some very, very strong way to vouch for himself. Doesn't matter if he's white, black, or blue - if I don't know you, you aren't coming in.

On the other hand, if the person goes Forrest Gump and runs through the States - notably making a celebrity of yourself, publicizing through newspapers/television identifying yourself that way - people end up knowing who you are and offer you a place to stay, because you are no longer a 'stranger'. They know who you are, they know what your goals are, and they know that if you DID do something in their house, all they'd have to do is go to the cops and say 'yeah, it was that guy on the news - yeah, the runner guy.' I don't think it'd matter what race you were - If, say, a black man told the news that he was going to try running across the entirety of the United States and publicized it, I wouldn't be surprised if he found himself being fed and housed just like the white guy mentioned in the opening post. He might have to take a different route, and he might being housed by different people, but he could do it. Same goes for any other ethnicity.

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 Post subject: Re: White privilege?
 Post Posted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:47 am 
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weatherwax wrote:
Only, he was not a tiny white woman. He was a tall black man. He rarely got a hitch, he rarely ran into anyone willing to let him warm up in the house, let alone sleep there. He had no food, and as the weather got colder, his jacket became not enough. He passed as far as one state before giving up and calling his mother. I think he lasted two weeks.


I found the transcript from the show. Apparently he lasted only 3 days, not 2 weeks, and basically managed to walk from Delaware to Maryland before he gave up of cold and exhaustion.

I think it would have gone better for him, if he had not made several critical mistakes

1) Not bringing a sleeping bag or a tent.
2) Not bringing any warm clothes
3) Starting his walk in the autumn when it was getting colder, and not in the summer when it was warm.

I get he really wanted to do the whole "trust in the kindness of strangers" thing, but not making the most basic of preparations was really a terrible idea. It didn't help that he was a tall black guy, but most of what went wrong seemed self-inflicted.

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 Post subject: Re: White privilege?
 Post Posted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:49 am 
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Kea wrote:
weatherwax wrote:
Only, he was not a tiny white woman. He was a tall black man. He rarely got a hitch, he rarely ran into anyone willing to let him warm up in the house, let alone sleep there. He had no food, and as the weather got colder, his jacket became not enough. He passed as far as one state before giving up and calling his mother. I think he lasted two weeks.


I found the transcript from the show. Apparently he lasted only 3 days, not 2 weeks, and basically managed to walk from Delaware to Maryland before he gave up of cold and exhaustion.

I think it would have gone better for him, if he had not made several critical mistakes

1) Not bringing a sleeping bag or a tent.
2) Not bringing any warm clothes
3) Starting his walk in the autumn when it was getting colder, and not in the summer when it was warm.

I get he really wanted to do the whole "trust in the kindness of strangers" thing, but not making the most basic of preparations was really a terrible idea. It didn't help that he was a tall black guy, but most of what went wrong seemed self-inflicted.


Aaahh, I remember now! This is why I shouldn't post from my phone...it's more difficult to do the source research.

I agree he did make those critical mistakes, and ruan has a point re: celebrity and a walk like this. Perhaps his problem was trusting a little too much in people's innate goodness rather than their innate desire to protect themselves from some possible crazy slash con man.

I revise my position. I think a black person could walk the earth - I think they just have to be more careful. I know the cops in my last town had a habit of stopping "suspicious" people, for instance, and people of any color were more likely to be stopped for such reasons. I'd advise someone walking through town with a tent on his back while black to do so quickly. And I don't think this is a regional thing -this is a small town thing. People who don't experience otherness a lot, whatever it is, are more likely to label the other as freaky.

And rural areas are especially weird. Lots of nice people out in the boonies, but sometimes you get the guy who has no qualms about shooting at you if you make the mistake of cutting through or passing too close to his land...

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 Post subject: Re: White privilege?
 Post Posted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:59 am 
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Well, when you have to protect your lands from people trespassing and going after your mushrooms...

>_>
<_<

Not that I'd know anything about that. From either side.

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 Post subject: Re: White privilege?
 Post Posted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 3:57 am 
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"Tall" might have also counted against him. I wouldn't easily invite a stranger into my house; but I can imagine that if someone did, they'd be more likely to invite a stranger who's not physically imposing. Someone that they could say to themselves 'if this guy goes crazy and attacks me, I can pick him up by the scruff of the neck and throw him out'. Tall men are very hard to pick up by the scruff of the neck, because their necks are so far off the ground.

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 Post subject: Re: White privilege?
 Post Posted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:39 pm 
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There was a study very recent released in Australia where a couple of economists decided to see how race affected generosity. The situation they used was a nice, simple, repeatable one - A person would get on a bus in Brisbane, Australia, with an empty bus ticket, and ask if the bus driver if they could let them on "just this once". After 1500 encounters of this type, with different races, they found the results to be "quite stark" - If you were white, you got on 77% of the time. If you were black, pacific islander, or aboriginal, you got a free ride only 38% of the time. If you were Indian, you were somewhere in the middle - 51% of the time you got a free ride. If you were Asian, interestingly, you were let on almost as often as whites - 75% of the time.

The more interesting part of the study was when they decided to test a few additional variables, to test some theories about what exactly is the underlying cause of this kind of discrimination. As part of the experiment, in some of the encounters, the tester would wear either business attire (to test socio-economic status as a confound), or a military uniform (to test nationalism as a confound). Turns out, no matter what race you are, wearing a suit makes you more likely to get a free ride, almost double the chance if you're black (from 38% to 67%), and a reasonable increase otherwise, even if you're white. If you're wearing a military uniform there's an even bigger effect - Black people get let on board 77% of the time, while every other race got results in the high 90s.

The entire study is fascinating reading, with the authors trying hard to actually experimentally look at racial discrimination from a very interesting perspective.

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 Post subject: Re: White privilege?
 Post Posted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 6:31 am 
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Well, generally, 'suit' means 'rich' and 'less likely to kill and rob you' as well as 'hey, maybe this guy will give me a tip'. And generally speaking, one of the perks of being in the military is that a lot of people will respect you for it and go out of their way to help you.

I do have to say, I wonder how that study would do repeated in different countries. I'd be very interested to see a cross-cultural/cross-national study follow up on that. Do the same in, say, Japan, then Germany, then South Africa...

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 Post subject: Re: White privilege?
 Post Posted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:21 am 
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Ruan wrote:
Well, generally, 'suit' means 'rich' and 'less likely to kill and rob you' as well as 'hey, maybe this guy will give me a tip'. And generally speaking, one of the perks of being in the military is that a lot of people will respect you for it and go out of their way to help you.


I doubt a bus driver would be expecting a tip. I'd imagine it's more to do with some conscious or subconcious reasoning about whether it's all a scam. A person in a suit you expect to be wealthier, and thus perfectly able to afford a bus ticket. Today, for whatever reason, they're caught without a valid ticket, but it's probably just a one off. Someone not in a suit, however, you're more likely to think is just running a scam - they never have a valid ticket and every day ask to be let off 'just this once'.

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 Post subject: Re: White privilege?
 Post Posted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 8:19 am 
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People in suit jobs and people in the military are in general seen as leading disciplined lifes. If they messed up getting a valid ticket, it's likely they just had a bad day. If they are lower class scum, them forgetting a ticket is typical for them, so it serves them right, if they don't get away with it, they should get their act together, even if it's just lazyness, not an actual scam.

And while the bus driver will not expect a tip, there might be some assumptions at work, which passanger might write a letter of complaint to the bus company.

Something that also has to be kept in mind, though it is hard to actually check, is that there seems to be a connection between your demographics and non verbal cues you give. Both sending and receiving happens subconciously mostly.

BTW a tip, if you need non monetary help (asking for the way or something like that) in Vienna and propably other urban areas as well. Avoid the pattern, that you ask "Excuse me, can you help me?" and then wait for a reaction of the other person. Most people who do that are beggars*, so you likely will be treated as one and people who had a bad day might not give you a chance to correct that impression. It's far better, to go for "Excuse me, can you help me, i am looking for..." without much of a pause.

* I never counted but i guess i meet a beggar of that kind at least monthly. I think it was twice in the last 15 years, that someone who was not a baggar used that pattern.

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