February 11th, 2010


Response to a testy comment

Over on aroraborealis's annual anonymous crush/confession post, this comment...

I confess that I spend more time than I wish angry that so many of the people I'm close to are white and that comparatively few of them spend any time thinking about white privilege--or any privilege. I think a majority of my community fail to examine the privilege that they live steeped in. Worse than that, a lot of them consider themselves oppressed because they are geeks. I know my anger is mine to deal with, but I really think others could help by owning their privilege more often and more vocally.

... got this response (among many others):

This is going to sound horribly argumentative, but i'm going to say it anyway.

why should i? if i'm living my life purposefully, and treating people right, why should i spend my precious time and energy thinking about a mental construct dreamed up by people who have significant negative energy invested in trying to make me feel like an asshole and a prejudiced jerk -- just because i happened to be born white?

i understand that there *is* white privilege, but instead of spending my days angsting about it and perpetually apologizing to every non-white person i meet, how about i get on with the business of living my life purposefully and treating people humanely and well?

There were several responses, some snarky, some reasonably attempting to make a point, none of which seemed to get through to that commenter. I tried to think about what this commenter's actual question, hidden under the aggression, was. When I thought I saw the question, to which I had an answer, I noticed that the answer I had in mind had not been given in any other comment. So I wondered, what if I ignored the snappishness and aggression in that comment, and just tried to answer the question, on the assumption that it was a real question and I had a real answer and it was perfectly understandable that this person had not yet thought of or come across this answer, and that didn't make them stupid.

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