Race, Privilege, Cultural Appropriation: 6 Articles I’ve Been Reading This Week

From Vox: The Rise of American Authoritarianism 

“Authoritarians are thought to express much deeper fears than the rest of the electorate, to seek the imposition of order where they perceive dangerous change, and to desire a strong leader who will defeat those fears with force.

They would thus seek a candidate who promised these things. And the extreme nature of authoritarians’ fears, and of their desire to challenge threats with force, would lead them toward a candidate whose temperament was totally unlike anything we usually see in American politics — and whose policies went far beyond the acceptable norms.

Authoritarians prioritize social order and hierarchies, which bring a sense of control to a chaotic world. Challenges to that order — diversity, influx of outsiders, breakdown of the old order — are experienced as personally threatening because they risk upending the status quo order they equate with basic security.”


From The Boeskool: When You’re Accustomed To Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression

“All this anger we see from people screaming “All Lives Matter” in response to black protesters at rallies… All this anger we see from people insisting that THEIR “religious freedom” is being infringed because a gay couple wants to get married… All these people angry about immigrants, angry about Muslims, angry about “Happy Holidays,” angry about not being able to say bigoted things without being called a bigot… They all basically boil down to people who have grown accustomed to walking straight at other folks, and expecting THEM to move.

So when “those people” in their path DON’T move… When those people start wondering, “Why am I always moving out of this guy’s way?” When those people start asking themselves, “What if I didn’t move? What if I just kept walking too?” When those people start believing that they have every bit as much right to that aisle as anyone else… It can seem like THEIR rights are being taken away.”


From Kevin Powell: Will Racism Ever End? Will I Ever Stop Being A Nigger?

“I can hear my White sisters and brothers say now, as many often declare to me when this uncomfortable dialogue occurs, “But I did not own slaves, I had nothing to do with that” or “My relatives did not do that.” It does not matter if you or your long-gone relatives were directly involved or not, or if you believe that “that is in the past.” The past, tragically, is the present, because we’ve been too terrified to confront our whole history and our whole selves as Americans.

Furthermore what matters is that a system was put in place, rooted in slavery, based on White skin privilege and White skin color, that revolved around power, land, property, status, shared values born of oppression and discrimination and marginalization, and that has never changed in America. Never. That system and its values have been passed generation to generation as effortlessly as we pass plates at the family dinner table.”


From Colorlines: This Heartbreaking Comic Shows Exactly Why We Need Asian-Black Solidarity Against Police Brutality 

Kayan Cheung-Miaw‘s “Dear Brother,” the English version of which you can read in full here and below (there’s also a Chinese-language version), depicts the relationship between an Asian-American sister and brother as the brother grows from a fun-loving youth to a hardened police officer caught up in the shooting of an unarmed Black trans youth.

The comic’s panels show the increased distance between siblings on divergent life paths as it becomes clear how close they are to people whose behavior perpetuates White supremacist social structures. It’s a scenario that may be familiar to many readers, including those who don’t identify as Asian-American.”


From Blavity: No, We’re Not Being “More Sensitive”–The Erasure of Black Pain

“Once we’ve confronted the political and economic advantages that came with ending slavery, we shouldn’t celebrate Abraham Lincoln as someone who ended slavery because of the inhumanity. We can’t begin to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. without confronting why he became a prominent leader in the Civil Rights Movement.

We can’t celebrate Rosa Parks without confronting the dark history of Jim Crow, and we can’t celebrate Thurgood Marshall, The Little Rock Nine or Ruby Bridges without assessing the current climate of inequality in the education system.”


From Medium: The Cultural Appropriation Primer

“I teach classes on how to write “The Other” and keep a growing list of resource links for my students. These are the links in the cultural appropriation section. I hope you find it as useful as my students do.”

Ubuntu,

From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones, MSW, LLMSW

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I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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1 Response

  1. I found this to be a very informative post. The first two summaries, in particular, have given me more of an insight into the insanity that’s sweeping the US right now. They also remind me of the little I know about social identity theory. According to this approach, when a traditionally dominant group perceives its status to be threatened it will act to maintain the status quo. If that group’s norms encourage violence and oppression, they may resort to those tactics to hold onto their power.

    I think the current surge in racial violence and the popularity of a certain presidential candidate are at least partly a result of this dynamic. The balance of power is shifting. The country is becoming more diverse, we have an African-American president, and white people were outvoted for the first time in 2012. This might be enough to make high-identifying white people feel like their status is threatened, and to provoke a reaction that is in line with their social norms.

    Of course talking academically about a problem and actually doing something about it are two different things. In this case I believe we (European Americans) need to be outvoted again. If the presidential candidate I’m thinking of becomes the Republican nominee, he will likely win the white vote. So everyone needs to show up to the polls this November.

    But that’s just a short-term fix, and it won’t address the underlying problems that gave rise to this situation. Unfortunately I’m not sure how to do that, so I’d definitely be willing to listen to what you have to say.

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