Sunday, July 12, 2009

White Privilege

I think ‘white’ still holds a lot of power in society today. There are still cases in America where people of other races are arrested or found guilty of crimes more frequently than that of white people. I think ‘white’ was first used as a racial category probably as far back as the 16th or 17th century or even earlier. As long as there have been slaves and people of color around, the ‘white’ racial category has been around.

I think ‘white’ implies higher social status. While there have been movements – especially with Obama becoming the first African American President – towards other races receiving higher social status, white men and women still dominate the government. It took us this long to have an African American president, and even still a lot of members in Obama’s party are white men. Unfortunately, as a whole, society still sees white people as being the most powerful.

I think there is a such thing as white culture, but no one really pays attention to it because it has been the norm for hundreds of years. Things associated with being ‘American’ are sometimes associated with white culture, even though other races are most definitely ‘American’. I think it is hard to establish what would define ‘white culture’ because most of it is, like I said, associated with being an American, and also because there are many different branches that form what it is to be Caucasian. For example, a family might be Italian or Irish. If they are Italian they are frequently associated with loving a good wine, or eating things such as pasta or other traditional Italian dishes. If a family is Irish, they might be known to love alcohol, eat things like corn beef and cabbage, etc. Even if it is not true, a lot of people stereotype these nationalities.

I do not think that white can be used as a group name without invoking connotations of white supremacy. As long as people are still actively aware of the negative history associated with African Americans (the years in which they were enslaved), white supremacy will always be a term that is prevalent. Even as we try to move away from white supremacy, there are still institutions that remind us daily of its existence. I think whiteness and white supremacy are definitely linked. You could be white, working as a janitor, and have tons of best friends that are of a different race, and you would probably still be seen as being above certain races that hold the same job.

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