Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

31 December 2007

White Privilege

I don't want to just send you off to another blog to read something, but sometimes I can't do justice to a piece.

So head on over to Alternet to read Alex Jung's White Liberals Have White Privilege Too!

I don't agree with every word, but gawd damn, it's pretty right on and does explain white privilege pretty darn well. And it was this paragraph that really drew me in. It was as if someone was writing about me except that I did have a bit of a realization that being Latina meant something, but being as non-Latina in the company of non-Latinas was emphasized without saying those exact words. At least that's how I read the signs.

Growing up in the company of white people, I was unaware of systems of whiteness. I knew that, as an Asian American, I looked different (and was unhappy about that), and that my parents faced linguistic and financial barriers (which I blamed them for). I did what "good" Americans did, and I individualized my struggles, believing that if I had enough gumption and know-how, I could rise to the pinnacle of society regardless of my starting point. I was an acolyte of the Temple of Ayn Rand. I didn't connect my experiences, or those of my parents, with larger institutions (i.e., capitalism) or cultural biases (i.e., white is right!), and blamed myself for failing to meet those standards rather than critique the systems that generated those standards. I had internalized whiteness, and if I had, then white people certainly had. As I began to develop what W.E.B. Du Bois called a "double consciousness" -- the perspective of "always looking at one's self through the eyes of others," I could not stop looking. Race (which in its fullness includes gender and class) was impossible to ignore, and I could not believe I had perpetuated racial hierarchy as much as I had.

Technorati tags: white privilege, racism, latina

1 comments:

here's an interesting take on white privilege from a privileged white guy. many do not cut hugo too much slack, but i appreciated his points in this post!