Let’s Look Together at White Privilege – 13

I have always been intrigued by the idea of projecting, the tendency to project onto other people characteristics we don’t want to admit in ourselves. Robin DiAngelo tells us that scholars this is what whites have done to black people. Examples she cites is how white masters of enslaved Africans consistently depicted Africans as lazy when in fact they toiled in back-breaking work from sunup to sundown. Today, blacks are depicted as dangerous even though statistics show that this is a perversion of the true direction between whites and blacks since the founding of the country.

The idea of projecting was particularly difficult for me to grasp. It leads me to want be more alert to who is making racist statements or perpetuating stereotypes.

I was interested to learn the facts about Affirmative Action. It is commonly believed that “if a person of color applies for a position, they must be hired over a white person and that a specific number of people of color must be hired to fill a quota.” Here is a more accurate description of what Affirmative Action is:

“Affirmative action is a tool to ensure that qualified minority applicants are given the same employment opportunities as white people. It is a flexible program – there are no quotas or requirements as commonly understood. Moreover, white women have been the greatest beneficiaries of affirmative action, although the program did not initially include them…No employer is required to hire an unqualified person of color, but companies are required to articulate why they didn’t hire a qualified person of color (and this requirement is rarely enforced). Additionally, affirmative action never applied to private companies – only to state and government agencies.”

As I read this I think of all the people over the years who have complained about how black people or immigrants can take their jobs away because of affirmative action. None of these individuals, by the way, have actually lost a job. That is, no one actually did take their job away. What they were doing was simply repeating racial rhetoric.

I was interested in DAngelo’s statement: “We have a particular hatred for ‘uppity’ blacks, those who dare to step out of their place and look us in the eye as equals.” I believe that this is why Barach Obama roused so much hatred. This seemed to be the case even among my Republican friends and relatives who in the past, would have simply got upset about a Democratic president’s policies but didn’t necessarily hate him. The fact that Obama was far so highly educated and so articulate made him intolerable. He was a black man who forgot “his place”.