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White Privilege Isn’t What You Think It Is

White privilege is a tough concept to explain, especially to touchy white guys who think that it’s merely another accusation of racism. It’s not. I stumbled upon a very practical example of my own white privilege this week that I hope might clarify the term just a bit.

My family and I are moving across the country in about a month. We’re looking to rent in our new city and conducting our search exclusively via email and  phone.

A tactic that I have found to be very useful in the past and which is already showing signs of success this time around is this: when we find something we really like but which is maybe a little above our price range, we send an email pitching ourselves as great tenants who will take excellent care of the landlord’s investment.

I also attach a picture of the three of us. I do this because I think it’s pretty clear from looking at us that we’re not slobs who will trash the place. I do this to add a corresponding visual to the professional, polite, articulate manner we project via voice and email communication.

Some people—people who don’t look like us, for example—can’t assume the same thing. If you don’t look like us, depending on the particular market, there’s a far greater chance that sending a picture would trigger passive or active biases in the decision maker’s mind. A black or brown person in our position might well decide that sending a picture would be detrimental to their prospects.

Now here’s the key: I haven’t done anything wrong here. My goal is not to show potential landlords that we’re caucasian. My goal is to show that we have clean clothes and friendly faces.

My white privilege in this situation consists of a simple, undeniable fact that has nothing at all to do with my motives or character and that is this: there is an approximately 0.0005% chance that a photo of us will make someone less likely to select us as tenants; it may very well not move the needle at all, but it’s certainly not going to diminish our chances.

In other words, white privilege isn’t what you think it is. It’s not something bad that you’re doing. It’s something that you have as a white person, whether you’re a backwater bigot or a civil rights champion.

So when people ask you to “check your privilege,” don’t worry, they’re not really asking you to give anything up! They’re merely asking you to be reflective in a way that might lead you to better understand the ways in which other people lack your privilege and how that might impact their ability to move up in the world—or even survive.

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No, Cleveland Police Dude, You Can’t Suspend Open Carry Today

Cleveland Police Department Detective and Police Association president Steve Loomis is a raging dickhead and a racist piece of shit who, today, would like the Governor of Ohio or someone, anyone, whoever, to suspend the state’s open carry laws because—oh, what do you know?—today open carry seems like kind of a bad fucking idea to him. Today.

In the past, he has “strongly supported citizens’ rights to bear arms.” Today, however, he told Reuters:

I don’t care what the legal precedent is, I feel strongly that leadership needs to stand up and defend these police officers…We are sending a letter to Gov. Kasich requesting assistance from him. He could very easily do some kind of executive order or something—I don’t care if it’s constitutional or not at this point.

Hey fuckstick, maybe if you’d given a shit about dead children and dead civilian adults before you suddenly decided to turn into a great big pussy about it because suddenly police lives seem to be more on the line than usual…maybe then you’d at least have an ounce of credibility.

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Detective Steve Loomis and Miss Ohio

But today? Today you don’t. Today you look like a big fucking hypocrite. Today you look like a person who wants one set of rules for him and his people while the rest of us have to live with a different set of rules.

Today you look like a person who wasn’t concerned about gun violence until you realized that open carry applies to black people too and now you can’t tell the difference between the “good guys with guns” and the bad guys with ill intent.

Besides, if you criminalize open carry, only bad guys will open carry, right? Or does that actually sound pretty good right about now?

Let me get a straight answer on this: Steve Loomis, does open carry make us more safe or less safe? If it makes us more safe, then there’s no room for prevarication. Whatever bad shit you’re afraid of as the Republicans come to Cleveland, having guns around should help you breathe easier.

If it makes us less safe, you should have said so long before today and you should be calling for a permanent and statewide prohibition on the practice, not a temporary one around the shitshow that is the Republican National Committee’s convention.

Or maybe you’re just extra worried because the New Black Panthers are encouraging their members to legally open carry in Cleveland? But see here’s the thing: I’m worried about all kind of different groups, white and black, carrying stupid fucking penis substitutes  guns around in public so hey, can I just call for a prohibition on open carry when and where I want it too?

No, Cleveland police guy. You cannot suspend open carry today, but you can work to end it side-by-side with the rest of us who are sick and fucking tired of gun violence in America.

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