I wrote a new thing for the Beacon: Jane Kim’s Relationship with the Truth: It’s Complicated.
On the social meeds, I had an interesting exchange about privilege. Which coincided with a few real-life conversations I’ve been having lately with men who’ve told me I’ve influenced their thinking on the topic. Post one, post two, comment thread. What my friend Justin said to me is that he took the idea that his whiteness and maleness conferred “privilege” to mean he had not earned his accomplishments. This kind of black-and-white thinking seems echoed in statements like “The world has always been a struggle between oppressors and victims of oppression.”
I mean, yes. And. Yes, all else equal you’ll get further with less effort in America if you’re white and male. But all else isn’t equal. Success in America results from a cocktail of circumstance, identity, and effort. I think this thread really explains the tension well.
Obviously people are extremely loath to recognize their privilege. No one wants to believe racism is alive and well in the US of A except the people forced to confront it as victims. No one wants to believe that a portion of their success resulted from other people assuming the best of them because of their gender presentation or skin tone. That makes it no less true.
John Papola wants me to tell him how to fight racism. I don’t know! There are a lot of ways. I try to signal boost stories of police abuse against POC. I try to listen when POC tell me about their lived experiences. I try to read stories about racial discrimination in public schooling and the criminal justice system. I write articles about the SF police union and racism within the SFPD. There are lots of ways. John seems to think fighting racism requires a zero-sum narrative of the world. I do not think that. I think fighting racism is a win-win endeavor. That just as a rising tide lifts all boats, a more meritocratic world rises the tide.
Has the world always been a struggle between oppressors and victims of oppression? To an extent, sure. But what I’m asking those with relatively more privilege to do is make the world more of a struggle between oppression and freedom from oppression. Because what the people with unearned power want most is for people to think the only way to fight oppression is to fight each other. Fighting each other makes us all weaker. Fighting bad ideas and ignorance is the first step. Get educated about racism and sexism. Educate others.
I asked John, how do you fight statism? You make videos and write articles and spread the word about why freedom is better than oppression. Make videos and write articles about how inclusion is better than racism and sexism. Unless you don’t believe that’s true.