I Get Mail – A Second Explanation to Rebecca Bradley

Her comment got buried under other comments, but I have read it.

TLDR History – Rebecca Bradley wrote an article that I disagreed with about racism and privilege. I wrote a rebuttal, she wrote a rebuttal to that and that’s in the comments. Now we are here.

          You seem to think I misrepresented or exaggerated the claims of Critical Race Theory. If you check them out, you will find I did not. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the literature? The redefinition of “racism” is fundamental; the denial that POC can be racist, the automatic stuffing of all whites into some category of racist, the suspicion regarding those who succeed within the system – all those are textbook-axiomatic. The subtext is a great white conspiracy to oppress minorities in defense of a white patriarchal power structure. I do, in fact, understand the concept of “privilege” – I just don’t buy it as it’s defined in CRT, or by you.

You clearly don’t understand the concept.

White people are the majority. Society is dictated by them. And we all come from various cultures which were biased to different ethnic groups. Oh yes including Indians.

Critical Race Theory is an indication that SOCIETY is more biased against people of colour because a lot of bad habits are rooted into  western society by centuries of dominance by people who would today be considered racist. While the individual white person may not be consciously doing racist things (or indeed sexist or homophobic things) they are doing things which hurt and harm other people. Often out of “good intentions”.

Critical Race Theory is born out of a society that once listened to the KKK or “Rivers of Blood” and still hasn’t shed some of those viewpoints. It’s not a great white conspiracy in most cases, it’s just people being ignorant.

CRT recognizes that racism is part the systems within American society. The individual racist does not need to exist to perpetrate institutional racism which is pervasive in the dominant mainstream culture. CRT identifies that these power structures are based on white privilege and white supremacy, which perpetuates the marginalization of people of colour often through ignorance or sheltered thinking rather than overt hate.

It’s not that people hate the pakis, it’s that they they don’t pick us for football until the end. Even if we are good at it…

Being skeptical of “white privilege” is not even in the same ball park as denying that racism lives on. (It is interesting, however, that you would make that equation.) I see instances of racism in Canada, going both ways; have been the target of it in other parts of the world, have studied its long, tragic history, and track it currently. And I continue to maintain that divisive, grossly simplistic models like CRT actually promote racism rather than the reverse.

You mean the infamous reverse racism?

The fact of the matter is that CRT is a purely american construct designed and aimed at the society within the USA which as I pointed out is still kind of racist. The white presidential candidate born in another country was not scrutinised over his passport as Obama was over his. The Tea Party’s frankly racist bullshit while less crazy than say the Nation of Islam or the KKK or Zionists or any other supremacist group, was taken SERIOUSLY. They were not told “you are stupid we are ignoring you”. Why? Because the Tea Party were a surprisingly huge amount of Americans who straight up cannot accept that a Black Man has won an election. That it HAS to be a conspiracy.

If he was called William McLeod you would not have these ass clowns claiming her is the Highlander or a secret Scottish plot to fry all your food. Yet we have everything from Anti-Christ to Secret Kenyan Plot to Kill All Christians being taken seriously. Why?

Because we rarely get to such positions of power over others. People straight up voted against him because he was black. When people of colour are racist their racism has less societal effect so the Nation of Islam who can be equated to stuff like the KKK as a hate group in level of hate, have less societal effect than the Tea Party Racism.

Really? You’ve just encapsulated the lunacy of white-privilege theory. You honestly believe that a white panhandler or office boy has a higher chance of making CEO than any Indian, Black or GLBT person? That a white panhandler enjoys more systemic privilege than, say, a well-dressed lesbian? Or the university-educated son of a middle-class black? Statistically speaking, there are indeed many more white than black CEOs at the moment, but they are drawn from a very, very small pool; the overwhelming majority of white males have exactly the same chance of cracking the executive ceiling as the majority of POC – vanishingly small to zero.

No. I don’t think you understand this problem.

I stated that a WHITE Pan Handler has a greater chance of becoming a CEO than a POC Pan Handler or a GLBT Pan Handler. Not someone of a different economic and social demography.

The issues that a panhandler faces are different to that of a lesbian. No one is yelling “dyke” and “queer” at the white Pan Handler. No one is trying to actually fudge the system to denigrate Pan Handlers like they are to Lesbians.

Yes and while that chance is very very small, the white guy has a HIGHER very small chance than the POC’s very small chance. If we were to talk about the structure of major companies, that without progressive hiring practices you would actually see very few POC’s in the upper echleons as they wouldn’t get promotions.

1 in a billion is a small chance, 5 in a billion is also a small chance yet is higher than 1 in a billion.

No one? The people who give credence to them are young people of colour – the same demographic targeted by the melanin scholars, the Portland Baseline essays, the ludicrous theories of people like Frances Cress Welsing, and other pseudoscientific expressions of black supremacy. (And, for that matter, the pseudohistorical underpinnings of CRT.) The result is to promote racial resentment and scientific illiteracy, and ultimately to hold back advances towards equality and social justice. But I am not surprised that you would so easily discount them, because they do not fit well into CRT’s assumptions.

13% of the USA still don’t think Obama is an American. 25% of Republicans straight up cannot process the notion that a black guy isn’t a rapper or basketball player and does say stereotypical shit like “Hell naw!”. There were laws nearly passed and people demanded investigations.

The President of the FUCKING USA had to prove that he wasn’t foreign. He had to prove that he wasn’t part of a conspiracy where a pregnant woman leaves her home to go overseas to have a child in secret so that there is no passport (despite the child being an American by birth to an American Citizen). This same person is in cahoots with someone with the ability to smuggle that very same child, back in to the USA so that now there was no government record of his birth. And having the amazing foresight to place birth announcements in the Hawaii newspapers? Just so that some kid named Barack Obama could run for President 50 years or so down the line.

Jesus Fucking Christ. You cannot sit there and compare the Nation of Islam’s small time wankery to this epic scale of wank. Literally this argument in all it’s stupidity was taken seriously because sufficient amounts of white people couldn’t believe that a black person won an election.

And I’m sure you can recognize a false dichotomy when you see it. Are those honestly the only attitudes you consider possible? As for CRT attitudes towards white would-be allies, did you follow the link provided?

It’s not a CRT attitude, it’s a stupid person attitude. We can get help from white people. We don’t like the “You are a credit to your race” kind of help though. CRT actually says nothing about that, some POC think this way and I think it’s stupid. As long as people are willing to listen to our issues and indeed take sensible steps to rectify the issues then it’s fine.

I recognized two of them – why did you assume I wouldn’t? The third I hadn’t heard of under either name, possibly because of my age. But presenting them as evidence of systemic racism is very close to dishonest, for two reasons. The first is just misrepresenting the specific back-stories. Freddie Mercury? Freddie was Farrokh’s preferred nickname from his schooldays in India; Mercury was assumed at the same time as he changed the band’s name from “Smile” to “Queen”, and for the same reason other musicians of the time changed their names: to be hip. Ever hear of Paul Gadd? Gordon Sumner? Reginald Dwight? William Broad? Arnold Dorsey for that matter, another singer with a subcontinental heritage? As for Ben Kingsley, the way he tells it, he wanted a name that was more pronounceable after a casting assistant mangled his at an audition; the suggestion came from his Gujerati-origin father, aka Ben.

Farrokh did it to avoid racism. All his talent didn’t mean a damn thing because no one came to see him. What? KRISHNA is easy to mangle but KINGSLEY isn’t? Oh for the love of fuck do you realise how stupid that sounds?

Arnold Dorsey’s mother comes from a group of people called Anglo Indians. They literally were people who threw away their culture to fit into the echleons of the Raj. His mum took on that well known Indian Name. Olive.

Think of them as the Mandarins who took names like Bruce so that the white colonialists gave them benefits over those who insisted on being called Thamizhan. This trope in Indian culture is old. We have been doing this for centuries. We have been trading our names so that people can pronounce it properly. We have been trading our culture for benefits in order to survive for centuries.

My brother is called Anand.

Not Andy. He goes by it out of choice to fit in. My dad unfortunately has no white guy name but goes by Ram. That’s not his name.

And the example isn’t just for you.

The second reason? You’re way out of date. Non-Anglo-Saxon names are no longer a bar to success in the entertainment world. In fact, quite the reverse. What did Chiwetel Ejiofor, for example, change his name to? That’s right, he didn’t. Indeed, the name changes may now go the other way. Who is Dana Owens? Sean Combs? Caryn Johnson? Shaun Carter? Marshall Mathers? Tracy Morrow? Which of these is white? Like many of the ridiculous items in the vintage “invisible backpack”, the under-representation of POC in the media, advertising, and entertainment is thankfully a thing of the past. Which fits in with other visible, measurable progress, from the halving of poverty rates among POC, all the way up to the advent of black CEOs in the Fortune 500.

Kal Pen was born in 1977. He is a modern contemporary actor who pointed out that his callback rate went up by 50% after JUST a name change.

And a special word on Rap Names.

Rap music was born out of a protest movement. Honestly? The First rappers sat around dilapidated warehouses just rapping about “life”. A lot of it was things like KRS One’s Sound of Da Police and Public Enemy’s 911 is a joke. Black people TODAY regularly see themselves not get jobs if they have “black names”. Now it sounds stupid to you but remember they have no original culture. So they created one of their own and part of that is their name system which actually harms them. Black people called Michael do better than Black people called Dfwon.

Rap Names are like Band Names. It’s branded and it’s part of Rap’s culture. In fact we know the “Rap Band” that made it popular. Everyone’s favourite Rap/Kung Fu connection. The Wu Tang Clan (Who aren’t anything to fuck with… Allegedly) due to their roster of ever changing names and personas and silliness. They were so influential that people started imitating them.

So while some of the names are weird (Puff Daddy? P. Diddy?) some of them are kind of smart (Eminem = MnM = Marshall Mathers) and indeed some of them MEAN something. These weren’t names they took to be successful, these were personas they put on to be like their heroes who were famous for creating a style and genre.

You’re Indian? Congratulations! In the US, the wellspring of CRT, you would be a member of the most favoured demographic of all, as measured by income, employment rate, and educational level. So perhaps the answer would be none – but you apparently feel comfortable in using the hypothetical as evidence of victimization.

Actually that has more to do with how Indians arrived in the USA. Indians solely arrived as middle class workers often doing jobs that no one else could do or were willing to do or as businessmen filling in a niche role. Income is due to the fact that many of us come in as Doctors and are “well paid”. Our employment rates are high because if we don’t get jobs we get deported. And our educational level is high because those who don’t have education don’t get into the country. In addition? If you are upper middle class, chances are your kids will be upper middle class too.

Really? The things Indians have in the USA is not because we are “favoured” but because we were willing to sacrifice a lot of our culture to TAKE stuff. We were more willing to fight and indeed we were used to fighting uphill. Indians in the west also have something called the REVERSE crab bucket. We nullify the disadvantages of novelty through camaraderie.

We fight the system in a different way. Our temples feed the starving Indian kids who come looking for work. Our families often play host to the kids of friends till they get settled. It is a leg up in a small way.

The majority of Indians who come to your country are already rich and privileged and educated. They are not fighting from below. They are fighting on an equal playing field to white guys at their social and economic strata with all the benefits they had growing up. In fact due to our cultural value on education we have a bigger advantage in a country fascinated by standardised tests.

But the thing is when we do work we do see racism in the form of fewer call backs to interviews and having to do more to be equal. It’s just that Indians as a culture are willing to do that more to be economically equal. We do suffer a lot of racism and to simply toss out our experiences is pretty much par for the course. We expect people to ignore our experiences.


  1. CaitieCat says

    We expect people to ignore our experiences.

    Braviss’! This is a horrific thing to be able to say about one’s community (horrific in that it’s true, I mean).

  2. says

    You honestly believe that a white panhandler or office boy has a higher chance of making CEO than any Indian, Black or GLBT person?

    Why the inability to see privilege as a statistical effect? One President that bucks the odds and they say look no privilege! Or one white person in a shitty position and the same, no privilege. Also this inability to see it as an effect on average means they take it personally as well – I’m not CEO you reverse racist!

  3. Klang says

    Kind of a typical and very basic misunderstanding of privilege theory there, in the lines quoted by Oolon above.

    I’ve seen this several times, often from anti-feminists – “Whaaa? You think EVERY woman in the world has it worse than men? What about Madonna vs. a homeless man? Huh, huh?”

    And then there’s the usual stuff complaining about all members of the privileged in group being labelled as racist. Tiresome.

  4. says

    Why the inability to see privilege as a statistical effect? One President that bucks the odds and they say look no privilege! Or one white person in a shitty position and the same, no privilege. Also this inability to see it as an effect on average means they take it personally as well – I’m not CEO you reverse racist!

    They don’t understand that it works like a science experiment:
    Change on factor at a time.
    You don’t compare Sasha Obama to a white boy born to a drug-addicted mother in a poor neighbourhood. You compare her to Chelsea Clinton. You compare the treatment of Quevenzhane Wallis to that ofwhite child actors.
    And you have to look at a statistical significance.
    Oh, and that “reverse racism”? Bullshit.
    The lines are a bit different here in Germany, skin colour doesn’t feature as much as origin. So, I, as a “native-native lilly white German” living in a neighbourhood where most other families with kids are Russian German do get treated a little less cortous at the Russian supermarket. And yes, standing next to a bunch of people you kinda know who keep happily chatting in Russian and make no attempt to include you sucks. It still doesn’t mean that when dealing with officials I get lots more respect. That in every other supermarket I’m treated with more respect. That when I don’t understand something people don’t assume that it’s because I can’t speak proper German.
    Oh, and being, there is quite a lot of resentiment still against us abroad because, well, we tried to kill everybody else. But I also know that because I’m German I could go there and easily travel to their country. If I travel to India or South America people don’t look at me as a potential illegal immigrant even though I’m just on a holiday.

    Talking about names and privilege: My husband works for a big German company. One of the two global players in that field big. So the head of his department sits actually in China (a German guy, of course). And when dealing with his Asian colleagues, Mr. wondered about why they all had English names. Oh, somebody told him, they don’t. They just change their names to save white people the troubles of having to deal with a Chinese or Indian name. Because it will make those poor white folks uncomfortable, and they will not want to deal with you, and that’s bad for business.
    Of course, that’s something white Americans working for Toyota USA regularly do, too.
    Oh, wait, they don’t….

  5. Hunt says

    Why the inability to see privilege as a statistical effect?

    Oh I think that is seen and acknowledged. The problem is that that is exactly what make the concept of privilege a form of bigotry. I mean, it’s right there in front of you. If it were any closer it would bite you. You might as well say “Why the inability to see intelligence as a statistical effect?” No doubt you’re aware of race realists who attempt to make this same argument. You, along with them, would do well reviewing Gould’s Mismeasure of Man. What the concept of privilege attempts to do is apply a statistical distribution to marginal effects, which amounts to an error in logic, and well, math. In matters of rhetoric, it allows you to look at a drug addicted, sun scorched panhandling man and utter the unfathomably idiotic statement “well, he still has a better chance at becoming CEO than if we were a lesbian.”

    Seriously, buy a clue.

  6. Hunt says

    The majority of Indians who come to your country are already rich and privileged and educated.

    This is exactly the point. In this context Indians are actually something of a privileged minority. You can’t use statistical metrics, like race or gender, to assign privilege without knowing the complete situation of an individual. You can’t, for instance, look at a white male walking on a street and assign him some quantitative privilege. You can juggle probabilities and guess at what advantages he might or might not have in life. But then, oh, wait, he happens to have schizophrenia, or he was beaten as a child and now has so much panic he can’t get through a job interview and mows lawns for a living. Privilege is just another in the long line of prejudices we assign to people according to superficial classification.

  7. jd142 says

    If there is any doubt that people of approximately equal socioeconomic class (like the panhandlers) are treated differently based purely on the color of their skin, watch this video:

  8. Hunt says

    That is pretty amazing, but look who’s treated best of all. Check your privilege?

  9. jd142 says

    @Hunt – But was she treated that way because she was female, or because she was a young blonde female in a tank top. Newsflash – men go out of their way to help young women they find attractive.

    What do you think the outcome would have been if she didn’t look like a typical western model?

    I’m also not sure if you can call it privilege if you are getting special treatment by people who want in your pants. Seems to me that would be the reverse of privilege.

  10. HM says

    The last statement Rebecca Bradley made in regards to education is a load of crap. I’m the daughter of an Indian who had little formal education and went through some rather difficult times when he emigrated to Canada – racism was very overt at the time (~ early 70s). The reason most Indians I know (and grew up) have education is a direct result of all the crap their parents (and mine as well) went through.

    As for an ethnic name not mattering, I call bullshit. Whether I get mistaken for a man (cause I have a fairly unisex Punjabi name) or not seen as Indian (cause of the way my dad spelled his last name), is direct result of the perceptions of the reader. For instance, at my present job, when I started, my coworkers expected to see a tall, bearded, turbaned indian MALE, as opposed to a short, curly haired WOMAN – cause of my name.

    And I’ve dealt with racism in Canada in both rural and urban areas. It is still present but not as overt.

  11. Pitchguest says

    jd142 – So let me get this straight. In your mind, men helping a woman to steal a bike is not a privilege because they might do it to get in her pants?

    Well… I couldn’t help but notice none of the women who stopped to ask or react offered to help THEM steal the bike because they might want to get in THEIR pants? So what have we subtracted from this equation? That men don’t get things handed to them but women do, and by the men they’re supposed to oppressed and subjugated by? Are you saying it was an example of benevolent sexism? Kind of like when women get free drinks in pubs? I’m curious as to what you think is privilege.

    But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Obviously the situation with the bike is different from getting free drinks in a bar. You’re saying they helped her because she was attractive. Hm. So you’re saying that patriarchy is a system that oppresses and subjugates women, but only to a fault? There are exceptions to the rule? Some women are exempt? Funny how this never seems to be mentioned. And isn’t that just a tiny bit patronizing, and maybe even a bit insulting? You’re saying the unattractive women do NOT get given this kind of privilege. At the risk of opening up a can of worms (which I think you just did), are you saying that Rebecca Watson, Surly Amy, Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Zvan, et al. (to mention but a few) are unattractive? A few women who’ve mentioned many times how unprivileged they are, how oppressed and subjugated they feel. Clearly if only they were young blondes with tank tops, they wouldn’t have all that pestering. Right?

    Or maybe I’m just equivocating again. I tend to do that around illogical arguments.

    The fact that you deliberately omit that the woman gets the worst reaction of them all in terms of someone stealing a bike in your description, is pretty damn telling in what kind of narrative you wish to paint. A white man gets almost no reaction while the black man is almost immediately reacted to, in other words racism – and I agree, it certainly does look pretty racist. Your point was clearly to point to some white/privilege discrepancy. However, the reaction to the woman is *even worse* and you didn’t think that was worth mentioning? I wish I could say I was stunned by that, but I’m not. Not here. Not on FtB. As for how they would have reacted if she didn’t look like “the typical western model” (how sexist of you), I don’t know, I didn’t know that patriarchy was a class system that treated women based on their looks.

    Anyway. What would have been a better expriment would be to use male actors that looked the same age. The white actor in it looks older than the black actor, hence would be more believable as a park inspector than the black actor. If they had dressed them the same, like in a suit, it would (in my opinion) have a much greater impact. Finally, although you probably couldn’t do it without some staging, have the same people walk by for each actor. Clearly, though, and I’m not going to deny it if that’s what you think – there was racism involved. Bigotry. But it doesn’t prove anything.

  12. says

    I must point out that the post was laid down with regards to RACISM.

    She is given the benefit of so much doubt because “Blonde White Girls Rarely Commit Crimes”. They are helping her because they didn’t take her statement SERIOUSLY. They don’t think she is capable of “crime”. She would chip a nail or summat…

    They aren’t helping her steal the bike, they think it’s her bike and are helping her dainty little hands open up the big strong bike lock…

  13. Pitchguest says

    Brilliant. A woman gets help stealing a bike and somehow this is a form of sexism. Somehow it’s an example of patriarchy. You’re rationalising it to fit with your world view. Amazing. But just to add a bit of balance, it’s not exactly sexist, is it? Unless she explicitly tells them not to help and they do it anyway, because–as you say–she could “chip a nail or summat.” That didn’t actually happen, though.

    Also, would it have helped the experiment if they had gotten a conventionally unattractive woman to aid them? Because once again you repeat this notion of a class system of patriarchy, that treats women based on their appearance and not on their gender as a whole, which is surprising to me because it’s not generally mentioned (if at all) in feminist circles that deals with the patriarchy narrative. (On FtB, A+ and especially on Skepchick.) Would it have strengthened the experiment if an unattractive woman had been chosen? Or better yet, an equally attractive “typical western model” black woman?

    Finally, and most importantly, they helped her to steal a fucking bike. Why did the others not get that? Why did the privileged white male not get that? I mean, I couldn’t help but notice the men offering to help her with the lock didn’t ask for anything in return, either during it or after. They just went on their merry way. It’s a running gag, but: some patriarchy.

    Honestly, Avicenna, how are we to understand patriarchy if it keeps getting redefined every five minutes?

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