#TBT White privilege, and what we’re supposed to do about it

On Thursdays I post something from the archives. This is from July 2013.
 
The case of Trayvon Martin’s death has sparked a national conversation around race. People seem to be polarized in their reactions to the recent verdict, and as such I’d love to avoid more conjecture on that in this post. Rather, I really want to explore some questions about white privilege, since that is a term that has been widely used in the past week, and hopefully shed some light on what it means and what, exactly, we white folk are supposed to do about it.

White privilege is a difficult concept. It can cause a lot of confusion and defensiveness. In the diversity class I teach to graduate students, this topic is more heated than any other topic we touch on. Similarly, this week I’ve seen people pushing back against the idea of white privilege as if it’s an indictment that they are a racist (it’s not.) I even watched a blogger (who is white) criticize my friend Kelly (who is black) for her suggestion that people confront their white privilege. The blogger suggested that Kelly called white people “white supremacists” . . . as if “white privilege” and “white supremacists” were interchangeable terms (they’re not.) Confusion abounds when we talk about white privilege, and I think it’s confusion that often leads to offense at the term.

Simply put, privilege refers to an unearned advantage. It usually refers to something inherent . . . something you were born with rather than something you worked for. There are many types of privilege: economic privilege, gender privilege, heterosexual privilege, and of course . . . racial privilege. Racial privilege can take many forms, from minor things to life-threatening things. White privilege can look like being able to grab some shampoo at the grocery store and being confident they carry products for your hair type. White privilege can look like being able to find a band-aid that matches your skin tone. White privilege can look like waling through an upscale residential neighborhood without anyone wondering what you are doing there. White privilege can look like wearing a baseball cap and baggy pants and no one assuming you are a criminal.

At it’s essence, it’s a simple concept:white privilege refers to the both minor and significant advantages that white people hold in American society. But still, people seem to struggle with both believing it exists and figuring out what to do with it. Here are some of the questions I often hear asked about white privilege:

I had a hard time growing up, too. We’ve all had hardships.
Of course we have. The concept of white privilege does not deny individual hardships. Hardships can be circumstantial, they can be born into, they can be at our own doing, or they can be outside of our control. Some hardships, for some people, are related to race, and those who haven’t experienced those particular race-related hardships hold white privilege. That doesn’t negate the hardships others have faced because racial privilege refers only to race.. It doesn’t mean that people haven’t experienced difficulty. Nor do the hardships not related to race negate the very real discrimination some people have faced.

I have a black friend who was raised with way more privilege so how can I be the privileged one?
Again, white privilege only reflects racial privilege. It’s possible for people of other races to hold other kinds of privilege. They don’t negate it either. . .  we’re not playing oppression olympics. When we ignore one form of privilege because another exists, we’re being dismissive. The fact that I’m white does not mean that I don’t sometimes experience sexism. That fact that a black person was born to a well-off family doesn’t mean they never experience racism. Imagine going to your boss to complain about sexual harassment, and being told that it shouldn’t bother you because you have a nice corner office.  When we deny white privilege exists because there are other forms of privilege, we are deflecting a very real issue for some people.

What do they want me to do?
I think that the biggest reason people refuse to acknowledge that there may be some privilege inherent in being white is the fear that it means they owe someone something. I’ve seen a lot of people this week push back against the idea that white privilege exists for political reasons . . . but this isn’t a political or legal concept. I can’t speak for all minorities but for most people I know, the biggest thing they want from me is for me to LISTEN. To hear what their experience is like. To believe them when they describe their own experience. 

There is nothing threatening about acknowledging your privilege. Being more empathetic to the experiences of others is not a sacrifice to anyone’s politics.

Am I supposed to feel guilt for stuff I didn’t do?
White privilege is not a value judgment. It’s not meant to be hurled as an insult or use as something to invoke guilt. On the contrary, I think it’s guilt that often compels people to deny that discrimination exists. I’ve seen a few folks make comments about white privilege that infer that it’s a made-up concept by liberals to add more white guilt on ourselves. But self-loathing is not the goal. It’s possible to have a healthy self-concept and racial identity while acknowledging the imbalance of racial privilege. A part of self-worth is acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses. In my experience, bullying and abuse is usually perpetrated by people with a low sense of self. So I think it’s valuable for white Americans to identify what it means to be white: what they like about their own culture and values, and what they want to change.

The only aspect of white privilege that should invoke guilt is if you decide that because you don’t experience racism, that you don’t have to listen or care when other people do.

Owning my white privilege means that I am more empathetic, but it also means I can use my privilege to talk about race without being accused of “playing the race card” for self-interest. A person’s political leanings should not effect the empathy and listening ear they extend to others. Similarly, a person’s race should not dictate whether or not they believe the experience of others . . . and allowing our seat at the Majority Table to cloud our empathy (or deny the experience of others) is the crux of what white privilege is about. What to do about it? Start with listening.

To learn more about white privilege, I really recommend reading this insightful checklist from Peggy McIntosh about “Unpacking the Invisible Backpack”.

What is your reaction to the term “white privilege”? Is it confusing . . . comforting . . . guilt-inducing? Do you think it’s politically loaded? Is so, why?


Source Link: #TBT White privilege, and what we’re supposed to do about it


Original Source of this article: Ruth Davis’ OC Blog , https://ruthrdavisblog.wordpress.com

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How I improved my wardrobe by getting rid of clothes instead of buying them

Keeping my closets organized has been a constant struggle for me. We live in a house built in the 1950s, which means that my closets are minuscule. I also have a habit of collecting clothing. It’s my one big shopping issue. I do Stitch Fix and Trunk Club, and I am constantly perusing the sale racks at Target and Old Navy online. I bring in more clothing then I give away, and my closets are often bursting at the seams.
This is a bit mortifying to admit, but I am also the person who has items in her closet with the price tags still on them. Sometimes I’m waiting for the right occasion to wear something. Other times, I am keeping something because I’m hoping it will be more flattering when I finally drop a couple pounds. And some items, I purchase things and then just can’t figure out how to style them.
I heard about a local stylist who does closet revamps from a fellow Blogger. Jen (with jeans|and|a|T) is a fashion maven who helps women go through their wardrobes, get rid of things they don’t need, and to maximize the things that they already own. It’s part personal stylist, part closet organization. And when I heard about what she does, I knew I was the perfect candidate.
I decided to have Jen come out and do the Fashion Fix package. I will admit, I was a little nervous about the appointment. In fact, I put it off several times. I was worried that we would have a power struggle. I was concerned that she would want me to give away more than I wanted to get rid of. I was worried that my hoarding tendencies would put me at odds with the process. And also, it just felt really overwhelming.
Here is what surprise me about the process: it really required very little work for me. Jen work by herself in my closet. She started with the drawers. She went through every item, and placed things in sections… Things to give away, maybes, and things to keep. And surprisingly, there were very few things in the pile of giveaway items that I disagreed with. I’m talking, just a few things, which goes to show how much extra rainiest stuff I was storing. It wasn’t so much that I felt the need to keep things. I was just overwhelmed at the process of getting rid of them. I found that, as she identified my outdated and unworn clothing, I was perfectly happy parting with it.

Jen pruned my closet and drawers for about an hour and a half, calling me in to give a final approval after each section. She helped me go through my gobs of workout clothing, she helped me get rid of about half of my dress collection, and she helped me pick the jeans I should keep and to ditch the ones that were outdated. In all, we probably got rid of more than half of the items in my closet. And I didn’t feel 1 ounce of regret over any of it. I felt lighter and freer.

Another aspect of the service that felt great: Jen donated all of my clothing to Working Wardrobes, which helps at-risk women get the wardrobe and skills they need to find employment.
This is another small bonus of the process, in that she also helped me put all of my remaining clothing on smaller velvet hangers, which made my closet looks so sparse and organized. There is so much more room to hang things now. This was one of the things that I have had on my to do list for over three years, and never got around to.

I think the big gift of this whole process is just committing to doing it, and having someone tackle it with fresh eyes. I know that I never could have completed this process it by myself in 90 minutes.

After all the organization was done, Jen went through my closet and selected several outfits and styled them for me. This was such an interesting process to watch, because she puts together things that I never would have assembled. She showed me fun ways to layer my necklaces, she helped me out with a few items that I like but couldn’t match, and she gave me several outfit ideas. I liked what she put together so much that I left it all hanging up, and just went through the outfits the following week. I got so many compliments! A close friend asked me if I had gone shopping, and it was so fun to explain that it was all just stuff from my own closet, paired with a professional stylist help.

. What is so interesting about the process is that I didn’t purchase a single thing, but I feel like I have a whole new wardrobe. I have less clothing and yet it feels like I have more options.

If you live in the Orange County area, I cannot recommend Jen enough If you would like to try  jeans|and|a|T, she is offering 25% off any service. to my readers. Shoot her an email and mention Rage Against the Minivan, and she will hook you up!


Source Link: How I improved my wardrobe by getting rid of clothes instead of buying them


Original Source of this article: Ruth Davis’ OC Blog , https://ruthrdavisblog.wordpress.com

Up for Debate: The curious marriage between the Republican party and evangelicals (Ep. 16)

He’s conservative. I’m liberal. And we are trying to have a civil discussion about the election. My friend Paul Martin and I are talking about the allegiance between evangelical Christians and the Republican party, and the seemingly odd support that Trump is getting from conservative religious leaders.


Source Link: Up for Debate: The curious marriage between the Republican party and evangelicals (Ep. 16)


Original Source of this article: Ruth Davis’ OC Blog , https://ruthrdavisblog.wordpress.com

Wednesday’s Child: Dylan

Every Wednesday I feature a child recently highlighted by a local Wednesday’s Child newscast to share the stories of children from around the country who are waiting for a family. My hope is that this can broaden exposure for the children highlighted, but also serve as a reminder that these children represent thousands of children currently in the foster-care system. Perhaps their stories will inspire you to consider opening your home to a child needing a family. For more information and to learn about other waiting children, visit AdoptUsKids.


Source Link: Wednesday’s Child: Dylan


Original Source of this article: Ruth Davis’ OC Blog , https://ruthrdavisblog.wordpress.com

What Are Your Favorite Documentaries?

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image credit: the outbound life

Calling all my savvy, in-the know friends! Can you help a lady out?

Dustin has this thing, y’all. He can not stay awake while looking at a screen. At all. I am not exaggerating. It sounds funny, BUT IT IS NOT FUNNY, PEOPLE. Okay, maybe a little funny. Mostly incredibly annoying, though.

It doesn’t matter where we are or what time of the day it is, the man will fall asleep within 5 minutes of watching a television show or movie. And it goes wayyyy back…apparently at HIS OWN birthday/slumber party as a child, when “Raiders of The Lost Ark” had just been released on VHS (gawwwwd, we are old), he fell into a deep slumber within minutes of the movie commencing. Like, he missed his entire party due to SIN. (Not “sin,” for crying out loud…clean up that mind, you heathen! But S.I.N. – a very serious and very plausible disorder, Screen-Induced Narcolepsy, the name of which I personally created. About five minutes ago. We’ll be selling a SIN wristband to raise awareness for this calamitous disorder very soon.)

Due to this disorder, we have seen a grand total of…wait for it…5 movies in the theater since we started dating in 2001. Let me do the math for you…that equals 15 years. One movie every 3 years. Fabulous. And guess what, friends? I like movies. I would enjoy seeing a movie with my husband once in awhile. Alas, not in the cards.

Until last week. Upon hearing about the death of Bill Cunningham, I mentioned interest in watching this documentary released a few years back. Dustin agreed that he was also interested. I sharply inhaled when I heard this statement. Could it be? COULD THIS BE THE ONE?! I prayed to the screen gods as I accessed the documentary via Amazon Prime.

And you guys. He stayed awake. For 124 blessed minutes. (And that’s pronounced blesid, like the adjective. Say it aloud with me, one-hundred and twenty-four blesid minutes. Feeeeeel that important distinction in pronunciation.) Dustin did not suffer the ill effects of SIN. Glory be to the highest!

As we finished the documentary, and I brushed away my tears of happiness, he said to me, “I think I might like to see some more documentaries.”

FRIENDS. HE WANTS TO SEE SOME ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTARIES. Could this be our turning point? Could his SIN go into remission due to a robust supplement of varied documentaries?

Help me, dear friends. Help us. Keep Dustin in SIN remission, and please share the best documentaries you’ve seen – any and all subject matter welcomed. #putanendtoSIN

The post What Are Your Favorite Documentaries? appeared first on whoorl.


Original Source of this article: Ruth Davis’ OC Blog , https://ruthrdavisblog.wordpress.com

What I want you to know about living with depression

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is Tina Szymczak.

I want you to know . . . I have struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life.
I want you to know . . . As a teenager I was hospitalized 11 times and one of the last notes in my medical file from that time indicates my prognosis was “poor”.
I want you to know . . . that through my 20’s we experienced several life stressors including infertility but I was able to stay healthy.
I want you to know . . . when I don’t show up to group events it is because my anxiety has gotten the better of me and I can’t face everyone.
I want you to know . . . I feel anxious making phone calls, even to close friends and family.
I want you to know . . . my husband knew these things about me and he still married me – I love him even more for this.
I want you to know . . . no matter how good my life is there are still times where I feel overwhelmingly sad and despondent.
I want you to know . . . some days I can’t make it out of bed.
I want you to know . . . I love my family fiercely and I hate that I worry and hurt them when I have to be hospitalized.
I want you to know . . . I know my family loves me. When I am at my worst I believe that everyone would be much better off without me.
I want you to know . . . I am a champion at hiding my pain. I can be contemplating suicide while I smile at you as you tell me a story. My pain is so severe, I keep it stuffed deep inside of me.
I want you to know . . . when I become deeply depressed there is very little my family or friends can do for me aside from being supportive and understanding.
I want you to know . . . I have made attempts at taking my life but thankfully it either never works or people find me and thwart my attempt. When I am feeling myself I am very thankful for these people and their actions.
I want you to know . . . the last time I went into hospital I ended up staying for two months. I can’t even begin to explain that experience though at some point I will try.
I want you to know . . . I see a Psychologist a couple of times a month and a Psychiatrist once a month. This is necessary to keep me healthy and out of the hospital.
I want you to know . . . I take medications to try to keep me even keeled.
I want you to know . . . I desperately want to be happy, I just don’t always know how.
I want you to know . . . I worry about being so candid but I have a stronger need to raise awareness and help others than to keep my story as a dirty little secret.


Source Link: What I want you to know about living with depression


Original Source of this article: Ruth Davis’ OC Blog , https://ruthrdavisblog.wordpress.com