A new word? The white and righteous – whiteous…
I was talking today with a friend in New Orleans about the new demographics of the first black city, and she was like – its the white sometimes anarchist organizing well intentioned kids who were at WTO and RNC and white and many of them are privileged and all of them are moved to serve and its this really complicated thing. The most complicated part, we agreed, is the lack of self-reflection that often makes service seem intrusive. No one I have talked to there wants the kids to go away, everyone appreciates them, and yet there is a common feeling of deep knowledge of what the city was and what it is becoming and the economic and cultural factors that allow some to be there and others to be kept away. Then I had another New Orleans conversation around supporting displaced survivors – the clock is ticking on securing a commitment from displaced survivors that they will come home.
i also know a lot of people of color who have whiteous tendencies, but are perhaps paying more attention. and then what about people of color who earn their chops by exciting and legitimizing the whiteous? it’s easy to fall into, people who aren’t inside your circle gassing you up.
can we talk about these things though? when and where?
This week folks are in the N’awleans streets around voting rights.
Later this month there’s a white privilege conference in St. Louis
(www.whiteprivilegeconference.com). Where does this conversation start and stop?
I have recently become close with two women who are Arab but look white. with one i discussed the frustrations of other people’s assumption, which didn’t line up with her experience at all. with the other i discussed how she doesn’t like labels. i was raised for quite some time in a house where race was not one of the highlights for how we looked at the world, and then my parents chose to drop us into the lion’s den and make us learn.
it’s made me reflect on this whole white thing: what does culture mean anyway, how much is choice, how much is assumption, how much is specific to class, how much you can shift culture in a lifetime…your internal culture, the culture of your generation. i’ve started to see in people very fast and deep transformations. can we expect a dot.com pace of expansion for self-reflection?