And now for something completely different

Or is it? I’ve just been introduced to the work of Tim Wise, and it’s fabulous stuff: all about how we view race through the distorting lenses of denial and privilege and class. He’s a terrific speaker, I guarantee you that it’s worth your time to take an hour and listen to this lecture.

Oh, yeah, a white guy lecturing on race…shouldn’t we be listening to a person of color on these issues? Of course we should, but if you just listen to the first five minutes you’ll get his confession: there’s an esthetic to who people will listen to, and the neatly groomed white man is right at the top of the list. Deeper in, one interesting point he makes is that the use of the word “underprivileged” is endemic, but “overprivileged” isn’t even in the dictionary (hey, he’s right, too: as I wrote that, my convenient electronic spellcheck highlighted the word with a red underscore. I must have made a mistake…that concept doesn’t exist).

People are selfish bastards. If you have privilege — and I do to a high degree — it’s always a tendency to cling to it and hold it tightly to ourselves and rationalize our entitlements, which perpetuates the divisions. The “underprivileged” aren’t the source of the problem, it’s the overprivileged who work constantly to maintain our position. We are the problem. To think that we can tell the oppressed that it’s their responsibility to fix their problem is doubly wrong: it’s our responsibility to fix our problem.

(Also on FtB)