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White People Want Stuff, Too. (A Response To Bill O’Reilly, From A Mixed Girl)

November 7, 2012

In the above video, Bill O’Reilly laments a changing America where black and brown people “want stuff.”

Thing is, though, white people also want stuff.

Some of the stuff white people want is great stuff: stuff like good health care, meaningful education, a living wage, comfortable retirement, non-toxic food, decent shelter, disability justice, and help recovering from climate-change hurricanes.

White people wanting stuff in Greece. Unfortunately, some of them have turned fascist, blaming non-white people for preventing them from getting the stuff that they want.

Some stuff white people want is not so great: like preference in hiring, admissions, or promotion; cops, judges, juries, border patrols and parole officers who go easy on you relative to black and brown people; books, magazines, art, and media that almost always reflect people of your race — especially in hero positions; access to social respectability, even if that access is consciously rejected.  Many white people are so used to getting this stuff that they don’t even realize they want it until it starts to go away.  Even the white folks who claim to not want any stuff — the Walden Pond renunciate types, sipping dewdrops from native ferns — usually want the ability to travel anywhere they wish, relatively unquestioned, safe in the assurance that “this land is my land, this land is our land,” wherever that land may be.

Other white people who want stuff?

Rich white capitalists.

They want hella stuff!  They even want the stuff they own to produce more stuff — for them — without having to work for it!  Some call that “investing;” sounds like exploitation to me; either way, it seems to pretty clearly involve white people exhibiting stuff-wanting behavior.

Fortunately, however, some white people also want the end of white supremacy. Why?

(1) Because white supremacy is ridiculous, fucked-up, spiritually poisonous and currently *foundational* to our

  • schools
  • laws
  • police/military
  • media
  • medicine
  • art
  • jobs
  • parks
  • government
  • and many other institutions that shape all of us.

Some of these institutions might be eventually rehabilitated from the white-supremacy fungus; others need to be chucked altogether.  Meanwhile, even in our radical organizing and communities, we face continual dangers of harming each other and undermining out own work by reproducing racist behaviors learned from these institutions.  Not cute.

(2) Because racism and racial privilege keep working-class people struggling against each other. Meanwhile, the “White Establishment” (capitalist class, historically white) profits off of everyone’s work and/or stolen land.

Don’t believe me?  Take Virginia in the late 1600’s.

In assessing the colonial history of Virgina in particular, Allen focused on the second half of the seventeenth century as the period when a previously mutiracial population of bond servants was divided into a pool of white workers indentured for a limited term of several years and a pool of black workers who were converted into permanent and hereditary chattel slaves.  This division was, according to Allen, the result of uprisings like Bacon’s Rebellion, in which black and white bond servants sacked Virginia’s colonial capital of Jamestown in 1676.  Allen’s research produced significant evidence, from primary documents such as the colonial records, demonstrating that, fearing the power of such a unified group, the colonial elite intentionally granted specific privileges to white servants—especially the eventual prospect of freedom—that were denied to blacks.  The unstated quid pro quo was that white workers were expected to help police the black population, rather than unite with them in subsequent rebellions.  This often took the form of white bond servant participation in armed slave patrols and militias that repressed any spark of resistance.  Here, said Allen, was the origin of white supremacy as an ideology, and of the “public and psychological wage” identified by [W.E.B.] DuBois.  Colonial Virginia was the birthplace of the white skin privilege. (Truth and Revolution: A History of the Sojourner Truth Organization, 1969–1986; pg. 85)

So yeah, Bill, white people want stuff.  Stuff like freedom!  And more and more are seeing through the false freedom of white skin privilege, understanding that lasting security can never come for working-class people — white, black, red, yellow, brown, or blue — under capitalism.  For that, a much better bet will be a classless society.  “A world,” as my friend Jake* puts it,

where people arent greedy and we take care of each other and nobody is fucked up to each other and everybody realizes their work isn’t any more or less important than each others and we don’t work for money but for ourselves and each other.

Yeah, that’s the stuff.

=======================

Jake’s not white, but hey, you can probly still get down with what he’s saying.  If you really need a vision from a white person, I also love this simple and profound one from my anti-capitalist friend Kate, who works to bring about “the healing of the earth and all her creatures.”

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 7, 2012 1:01 pm

    Great blog post Katie!!!!

  2. November 7, 2012 1:11 pm

    Thanks Kalimah! And thanks for sharing; big hugs to you!!!

  3. Nicole permalink
    November 7, 2012 3:00 pm

    i seriously love this!! facebook is being annoying, but i wanted to write this somewhere!

  4. November 7, 2012 4:15 pm

    Thank you Nicole! Saw some phantom comment alerts from you… much appreciated! hugs hugs hugs. :)

  5. equayona permalink
    November 13, 2012 6:44 am

    Excellent commentary and I couldn’t agree more. As an older white male, an insider in the “white privilege club” I can testify to how utterly, willfully blind my fellow club members can be to this. Most of them honestly don’t/can’t/won’t see the truth even when you point to all the instances of this they enjoy. Even to thinking they are ‘color blind’ because they don’t think about race and racial issues until they get smacked upside the head with them. They really don’t understand that not having to consider or think about their skin color is just part of the white privilege they enjoy.

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