books and reading · pop culture

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the things that got me thinking this week.

What White Privilege Really Means (Slate)

Lotsa hard stuff for you this week (so what else is new).  This piece examines a lot of different things that I think about a lot, including the concept white privilege (and what it means to “check” that privilege), how segregated we are in life and in social media, and what we can do about all of it.  This part of the piece stands out several days later, after having read it more than once:

I wonder if the racial self-flagellation of #CrimingWhileWhite is like buying an indulgence. If you engage in ritualized expressions of white guilt, you are free to enjoy your white privilege, comfortable in the knowledge that you are nothing like those ignorant and presumably terrible white people who refuse to do so. I have little patience for this kind of privilege-checking.

It’s a well-written, nuanced piece about privilege in America.  Even if you don’t agree with all of it (I haven’t read the comments but I’m sure there’s plenty of dissent there because Internet), it’s worth a read and a hard think.

I Don’t Know What to do with Good White People (Jezebel)

But if you’re just going to read one hard article this week, read this one.  It’s challenging and upsetting to read as a white person (good, it should be, I think), but it’s also really important.  Brit Bennett is amazing:

Over the past two weeks, I’ve seen good white people congratulate themselves for deleting racist friends or debating family members or performing small acts of kindness to Black people…Sometimes I think good white people expect to be rewarded for their decency. We are not like those other white people. See how enlightened and aware we are? See how we are good?

Over the past two weeks, I have fluctuated between anger and grief. I feel surrounded by Black death. What a privilege, to concern yourself with seeming good while the rest of us want to seem worthy of life.

Bennett’s piece is full of pain and stories about being black in America.  It is worth your time to read this piece and think about it.  As one of these “good white people,” I am guilty of some of the things she says, because all “good white people” are.  It is crucial to be uncomfortable with this piece, to think on it, to reflect, and figure out how to be better.

I rarely say this, but the comments are worth it, too.

The Year in Garbage (Medium)

This is a really excellent organization of all the shitty things that happened this year, complete with superb comics.  It’s worth a look (so is Slate’s Year of Outrage but I’m not linking because I’m lazy as fuck).

We all did the Ice Bucket Challenge, posted it, Liked it, raised awareness for the thing it was for. Did we donate any money? Uhh.

White Women, Please Don’t Expect Me to Wipe Away Your Tears (Dame Magazine)

h/t to Caroline who sent me this article this week as part of a much larger, much more convoluted conversation.  This piece is EXCELLENT.  It explores the concepts of white guilt, white people’s inability or unwillingness to understand the experiences of black people, and so much more:

One of my White female friends, a mother of two adopted Black children, shared with me that she was told by at least two White women who struggle with her incessant posts about White privilege that she is “not cultivating peace,” that she needs to see both sides better. In other words, they want her to shut up and post what they think she should post.

This is obviously something that extends beyond the reaches of just race/has implications for other issues and topics, but it’s particularly relevant here.  The entire piece is so good and important:

It’s stressful enough that Black people have to see endless posts documenting racism, our fears, and stress related to the fact that a Black person is killed by the police every 28 hours. So when our White friends venture into our space to challenge our lived reality with their subjective responses, we’re left stewing in frustration. Why do some White women feel the need to express their disappointment and emotional pushback, and contest the points Black people are making? It’s as if they’re trying to overpower our reality, our pain, and our anger with their own.

Anyway.  Please go read.

What got you thinking this week?

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