Minneapolis Community and Technical College lecturer Shannon Gibney (who is African America) was formally reprimanded by her university after three White male students complained that they were being made to study structural racism. One student interrupted Gibney during her  Mass Communications class and asked: “Why do we have to talk about this?”

Another student chimed in: “Yeah, I don’t get this either. It’s like people are trying to say that white men are always the villains, the bad guys. Why do we have to say this?” The students filed a formal complaint. They argued they were forced into a “hostile learning environment.” 

After being reprimanded for trying to teach in her role as lecturer, Gibney and six of her colleagues are filing a federal class action lawsuit saying their university is a discriminatory workplace.

This case is exactly why Whiteness and postcolonialism studies are quintessential.

These students feel entitled to evoke discrimination because they were encouraged to explore their own social privilege (see my earlier post on the problems with the idea of reverse racism).

Video link and information on the class action: Salon.






“White Teachers VS ‘Innercity’ Students: Deception in Media Portrayal”

So I spent many hours making this video for an education class……

Basically, I analyzed several “white savior teacher movies” and gave some insight on what this does for audiences

I made this last night and it’s kinda long but I think it’s important you know?

bless this post

This is a whole lotta truth. I’m just gonna add, another detrimental aspect of this narrative is that it affects how teachers and prospective teachers view themselves in a classroom. The public school teaching force is overwhelmingly made out of middle class white people, primarily white women, when the student body is nothing of the sort, so the narrative ends up being played out by teachers who think it could really work this way, and when they fail, b/c this shit is structural, it leads to a lot of blaming of the students. I’m just gonna drop links to a book here 


The book is Black Students, Middle Class Teachers and he spends a couple chapters talking about this gap between the teacher’s world and the students. Though he does lean a bit heavy on the religion for me.

wow these movies are actually worse than i thought

This is a really great video. The analysis fits in with the Magical Negro trope (which I’ve described here). This term describes how Hollywood films tend to cast minorities in supporting roles that aggrandise the White protagonist as the saviour of minorities. 

(via marvelous-merbutler)


Carefully notice the lack of logical thinking here. She’s not even following the line of questioning.

When privilege is in question, no matter how ignorant or intelligent a person is, they tend to retreat to illogical arguments that are easily refuted and they kinda resemble toddlers, except I actually like toddlers and toddlers make more sense.

And honestly, many White women would not tolerate such ridiculous arguments, lack of empathy and self-centeredness ("why bring up race if it’s not a problem for you?") if the question was gender and a White man posed this foolishness to them. They wouldn’t tolerate it. They would easily expose the ignorance. But magically when privilege (in this case White privilege) is in question, all bets are off.

The last GIF explains my life in so many ways… *rolls eyes*

The weirdest thing is that though this is from a satirical show (The Daily Show) and meant to discuss racism with humor, these are the real answers that most Whites give daily, so I couldn’t really laugh this time. I just felt tired.

The invisible knapsack strikes again. Peggy McIntosh used this concept to unpack how as a woman and feminist she was used to fighting male privilege. As an educator she later came to realise that as a white woman she had privileges and white men even more due to gender and race.

(via onecuriousb)


Next time a white person accuses you of , ask them if they have two and a half minutes to watch this

It’s great to see this video going around: Aamer Rahman is a brilliant comedian. This video humorously captures why “reverse racism” makes no sense.

Every culture holds positive and negative stereotypes of their own group as well as other groups. A stereotype is a mental attitude or belief. This is not racism. Racism is a concept that describes institutional processes that are linked to historical social relations. A racist statement by a member of a privileged or majority group carries power and the threat of violence because institutional processes ensure minorities are marginalised. Racism is locked to a system of discrimination at school, work, in the media, in politics and through other social institutions. The false concept of reverse racism ignores these institutional experiences of oppression.

Research by sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and colleagues shows that the idea of “reverse racism” is prevalent amongst White people who hold two paradoxical beliefs: 1) Society hasn’t really got a problem with racism, 2) Minorities get special privileges because of their heritage. White people today mostly understand that saying negative things about minorities is not acceptable. So in interviews, they will talk about their racist relatives, without thinking of themselves as racist. They will share one off examples where they’ve had a positive encounter with a Person of Colour. Yet their negative experiences with minorities take on a different meaning. The positive is an example of a “good” individual. The negative example is an indictment of the entire minority group. So, white people will say things say things like:

I have, I just have a problem with the discrimination, you’re gonna discriminate against a group and what happened in the past is horrible and it should never happen again, but I also think that to move forward you have to let go of the past and let go of what happened um, you know?

Reverse racism is an attempt to be ahistorical. White people will evoke this concept when they say they don’t understand why some minorities (People of Colour who experienced colonialism) still talk about racism when other White groups aren’t “allowed” to talk about “racism.”

those that say we should pay them because they were slaves back in the past and yet, how often do you hear about the people who were whites that were slaves and the white that were, ah? Boy, we should get reparations, the Irish should get reparations from the English… 

A common idea underlying the “reverse racism” discourse is that White people today shouldn’t have to pay for the oppression that happened in the past. (As if social relations today aren’t correlated with history and as if oppression is not longer happening.):

Me, as [a] white person, I had nothing to do with slavery. You, as a black person, you never experienced it. It was so long ago I just don’t see how that pertains to what’s happening to the race today, so that’s one thing that I’m just like “God, shut up!”

White people feel disconnected to historical processes because these relations don’t affect their present-day life outcomes. Conversely, whenever they see minorities getting ahead in life, they presume it’s due to “reverse racism” rather than individual merit:

No, other than I have applied at jobs and been turned down because I was white. Now, I have nothing against the black person [if he] was qualified better than I was. But when the guy comes into the interview, and I’m off on the side and I can hear them talking, and he can’t even speak English, he doesn’t know how to read a map, and they’re gonna make him a bus driver and hire him over me… I know why he got the job, and I don’t think that’s fair. 

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and colleagues argue that the “reverse racism” narrative is a safe way for White people to air out racist ideals without thinking of themselves as racist. This is also known as “colour blind racism.”

Sociologists have a difficult time teaching White students about social privilege because the social benefits of Whiteness are difficult for people to “see” when they are part of the majority. See my previous post which also has some excellent resources to better understand this phenomena in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the USA.

Check out more of Rahman’s stand up via Fear of a Brown Planet, a comedy duo also featuring Nazeem Hussain. I’ve seen Fear live a couple of times. Their comedy deals with political themes (for example Australia’s refugee policies, the Cronulla Riots), but they also have incredibly funny observations about life, family, and my favourite ever reminiscence on Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Watch Fear of a Brown Planet on Australian Story below. It’s a great insight into their comedy and the barriers they face as Australian-Muslims. Speaking of “reverse racism” when I tweeted my love for the episode below, I had a random person write to me on Twitter telling me it was the Australian Story ever because - presumably - reverse racism. Hmmm…

(via aamerrahman)

How To Know If You Are White


October 9, 2012

by Mia McKenzie

Lately, the question of who is white and who isn’t keeps coming up in my life. I have had many talks with friends in recent months about what it means to be POC, and about who is claiming that identity and why. At a recent reading I did at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, someone asked me if I thought race was defined by skin color. Today someone pulled the “I’m white but I’m Armenian, so, historically…” and I felt compelled to take a deep breath and sort out some of my thoughts around the term “white”.

When I talk about “white people” I am talking about people who exist in bodies that give them access to white privilege. Some people exist in these bodies and get these privileges but don’t ID as white. The thing about whiteness, though, is that you don’t have to claim it to have it. You may not want to be white, for whatever reasons, but you don’t choose whiteness. Whiteness chooses you. And when it does, it gives you—whether you want or acknowledge them or not—a whole slew of privileges that non-white folks don’t get. Even if you are poor. Even if you are a woman. Even if you are queer and/or trans. Even if you are elderly. Even if you are a person with a disability. All of these things will, of course, affect your life in enormous ways and affect your access to any number of things. But they don’t erase whiteness.

So, if you’re confused about whether or not whiteness has chosen you, here’s a few questions to help you sort it out.

How to Know If You Are White:

1. Do you look white? If this seems in any way like a complicated question, it can be easily discerned by walking into a fancy store (in clean, neat clothing) and seeing how the people who work there treat you. Do you get dirty looks upon entering? Do the shopkeepers glance at each other with worry? Do you notice people following you around to make sure you’re not stealing anything? If not, you may be white.

2. Have you ever been pulled over by a cop? If so, were you extracted from your vehicle and made to lie on the ground? Were you degraded in any way? Were you beaten? Were guns pointed at you? Did you feel in fear for your life? If not, you may be white.

3. When you are walking down the street and a cop car rolls by, do you feel safer because the police are around? Because they are there to protect you should something go wrong? If so, you may be white.

4. Do people ask you where you’re from, and when you answer, “I’m from here,” do they ask, “No, like, where are you from from?” If not, you may be white.

5. Are people visibly surprised when you are smart and articulate? If not, you may be white.

6. Have you ever been mistaken for a valet while wearing a suit? If not, you may be white.

7. Does the idea of driving through Mississippi fill you with apprehension? If not, you may be white.

8. Do people reach out and touch your hair/body without your permission and then accuse you of being too sensitive or of overreacting when you don’t like it? If not, you may be white.

9. Do you regularly experience racism (note: racism is a system in which people are given less access to employment, education, safe and adequate housing, legal representation, etc. based on their race; racism is not people “not liking you” because of your race). If not, you may be white.

10. Do you see a lot of people who are the same color as you in movies, on TV, in magazines, etc. who are not portraying stereotypes or caricatures? If so, you may be white.

11. When you stand up for yourself, do people accuse you of being too angry? If not, you may be white.

12. Do people assume, without knowing you or ever speaking to you, that you are unintelligent, a criminal, good with computers, a terrorist, lazy, that you don’t speak English, or that you are poor? If not, you may be white.

Hope this helps!



Mia McKenzie is a writer and a smart, scrappy Philadelphian with a deep love of vegan pomegranate ice cream and fake fur collars. She is a black feminist and a freaking queer, facts that are often reflected in her writings, which have won her some awards and grants, such as the Astraea Foundation’s Writers Fund Award and the Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award. She has a novel debuting in the fall and has a short story forthcoming in The Kenyon Review. Her work has been published at Jezebel.com, and recommended by The Root, Colorlines, Feministing, Angry Asian Man, and Crunk Feminist Collective. She is a nerd, and the creator of Black Girl Dangerous, a revolutionary blog.

Philadelphians! Register for the Black Girl Dangerous Writing Workshop! And come to Mia’s reading in Philly on October 23rd!

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Take a facet of crime, and then look at television shows/movies that feature those criminals as protagonists.

White mobs.


White pirates.


White serial killers.


White political corruption


White drug dealers


I mostly want to talk about this as a TV phenomenon, but pick a crime, any crime, and Western media has probably made a movie/TV series/play/etc. with a white person that romanticizes the criminal activity. No matter what, a white person can do whatever terrible crimes and still have a TV/movie fanbase that loves them.

When you see black or brown people committing crimes on screen, you are to see them thugs and criminal masterminds and people to be beat down.

When you see white people committing crimes on screen, you see a three-dimensional portrait of why someone might commit that crime, how criminals are people too, and how you should even love them for the crimes that they commit because they’re just providing for their families or they’ve wronged or they’re just people and not perfect. This is particularly a luxury given to white male characters, since there few white female criminals as protagonists.

If and of the above shows were about black or brown folks, there would be a backlash of (white) people claiming that TV and movies are romanticizing criminals and are treating them too much like heroes and that it will affect viewers and encourage violence and “thuggish” behavior. And yet fictional white criminals get to have a deep fanbase who loves these white criminals, receive accolades and awards, get called amazing television that portray the complexities of human nature. Viewers of these characters see past the atrocious crimes and into their humanity, a luxury that white characters always have while characters of color rarely do. The closest that mainstream TV has come to showing black criminals as main characters is probably The Wire, and even then, the criminals share equal screen time and equal status as main characters as the police trying to stop them.

The idea that crime can be so heavily romanticized and glorified to such a degree is undoubtedly a privilege given to white characters. The next time you hear someone talk about Dexter Morgan or Walter White in a positive way, it may be an opportunity to rethink how white people can always able to be seen as people no matter what they do, while everyone else can be boiled down to nothing but a criminal.

Source: iamabutchsolo (via reclusiveessence)

(via marvelous-merbutler)

Racist Humour in Australian Advertising: Reflections from the Sociology of Whiteness

Below is a great post by sunili on “casual racism” in a recent advertising campaign that has thankfully been banned by tv networks. To situate it for non-Australian readers, here’s the background. There is an electronics entrepreneur in Australia called Dick Smith. His company is Australian-owned and his advertising campaigns often rest on notions of patriotism. His latest ad was an attempt to cash in on Australia Day, coming up on the 26th of January. It has caused tremendous controversy because it is based upon sexist and racist “jokes.” The ad features cringe-worthy dick jokes as well as asylum seekers literally arriving on Australian shores. A stereotypical Afghan/Islamic man is handed a Dick Smith’s food product, as Smith says “And the taste is a beauty, why else would thousands be trying to get here?” The “asylum seeker” looks to the camera and says “I love Mr Dickssss.”

Dick Smith has defended the sexism and racism in his ads to the Sydney Morning Herald, saying:

one of the reasons that asylum seekers come here [to Australia] is because we have good food. So I can’t see what’s really wrong with that.

Guess what? Asylum seekers come to Australia for asylum, to escape prosecution and political turmoil, not to eat Australian food specifically and certainly not to help Dick Smith reduce their plight into a racist skit.

The entire ad campaign is offensive and ridiculous, but the asylum seeker angle is socially irresponsible, given that Australia has an ongoing debate about asylum seekers, which are based on fear and racism. Negative stereotypes, including those perpetuated by “jokes,” have a real consequence on the lives of refugees in Australia, including on their employment prospects. Media that replicates race and gender-based “jokes” actually rest on racist and sexist notions, as the humour is a direct interaction with cultural stereotypes.

Sunili has written to the ad director, who defended the Dick Smith ad saying it was not meant to be racist. As Sunili points out, racism, whether intended or not, whether as a joke or as malice, is still racism:

There are two huge problems with casual racism and racist jokes:

jokes that are based on racist stereotypes and the normalisation of casual racism trivialises the huge problem of what you describe “malicious” racism and the harm that that racism causes because people go “oh c’mon it’s just a joke love, get over it!” when the basis of that joke is something that is deeply not funny and terribly hurtful; and

making jokes and then defending jokes that are based on racist stereotypes normalise a harmful practice that has and continues to effect a lot of your fellow Australians, and it gives the really vocal, nasty, malicious element of the community the ammunition it wants to make racist jokes in a nasty, malicious way.

I have discussed the sociology of “unintentional racism” with respect to history and music on my other blog. I noted that the reason why non-white people, particularly those in positions of privilege, are able to claim that they fail to see racism in their words or actions is because racism is institutionalised. It is so firmly entrenched in society, that people claim not to be aware of it, even when they participate in it. This is why whiteness studies are so important: people who belong to a dominant white group have trouble owning up to racist discourses. As Dick Smith says, “I can’t see what’s really wrong” with his unintentional racism. 

Check out Ruth Frankenberg’s work on white American women and Margaret Wetherell and Jonathan Potter’s work on racist discourses in New Zealand. These studies show that ordinary folk who see themselves as highly tolerant and forward- thinking citizens actually use racist language and they replicate racist ideologies without being able to discuss this as racism.

You should also read Sunili’s post in full.


Dick Smith is a bit of a tool but he made this ad for his food products for Straya Day and it’s awful and racist and you can google it if you want but I sure as hell will not be linking to it.

I contacted the director of the ad via Twitter and engaged in a bit of discussion about how problematic it was. He responded, firstly by calling me “Sunil”, EPIC AWKWARD TURTLE, but then saying that the ad wasn’t racist because there was no malicious intent to be racist.

This was my response to him.

Read More

HT @26pgt for the link to sunili’s post.

With the expansion of European and U.S. colonialism into Asia and Africa in the last half of the nineteenth century, new emphases were added to the prevailing racial frame. One relatively new emphasis was “teleological racism”—the view that non-European peoples, including Africans, had been created as inferior so that they could serve, and be civilized by, whites. A famous statement of this is Rudyard Kipling’s 1899 poem, “The White Man’s Burden” (“Take up the White Man’s burden/ Send forth the best ye breed”). From Kipling’s perspective whites had a missionary obligation to help “inferior races,” termed in the poem as “half-devil, half-child.”These white-racist formulations explained not only the character and conditions of those oppressed but also celebrated whites as especially civilized, Christian, powerful, and generous toward those conquered. Variations on this old racist framing have long rationalized the oppressive policies directed by Western corporations and governments at peoples of color across the globe, to the present day.

Joe Feagin

the white savior complex among activists is rooted in the white man’s burden

(via wretchedoftheearth)

(via sociolab)

Dominant discourse of whiteness in The Economist

Economist-Staff is a website whose sole purpose is to point out white cultural dominance within The Economist, one of the world’s most respected economic publications. The Economist magazine shapes its global economic analyses through highly specific racial, ethnic and linguistic lenses.
The Economist-Staff website began in response to an article in The Economist that attempted to answer “Why are Korean women so good at golf?” The Economist Staff points out that is a problematic question to begin with, let alone the article itself, which reproduces racial and ethnic stereotypes. Check out the rest of the Economist-Staff site, which refutes The Economist's claims that the magazine is about diversity, and that it is “the enemy of privilege, pomposity and predictability”. In the graphics below, we see that one way through which whiteness discourses are perpetuated in the magazine is through the English language.

Languages spoken by The Economist Editorial Staff

*Language list is based on the selection from the staff directory

Specialised Countries & Languages Spoken by Staff

9 of 9
United Kingdom
specialists speak

2 of 2
specialists speak

3 of 7
specialists speak

0 of 3
specialists speak

2 of 6
Middle East & North Africa
specialists speak

1 of 6

1 of 6

0 of 5
Sub-Saharan Africa
specialists speak

3 of 5

0 of 5

3 of 6
Latin & South America
specialists speak

4 of 6

0 of 4
South Asia
specialists speak

4 of 4

0 of 4

0 of 4

*Language lists are alphabetically displayed, and based on the selection from the staff directory

Source: Economist-Staff.

Peggy McIntosh talks about the origins for her article on white privilege Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.




Is white skin really fair skin?
Something as basic as the color of our skin has shaped our lives, opened doors, put us at the head of the line.
Granted us privileges we don’t even realize.
We don’t experience the daily disadvantages - the looks, the fear, the hassles - that thrive in the unspoken world of white entitlement.
And that’s unfair.




Is white skin really fair skin?

Something as basic as the color of our skin has shaped our lives, opened doors, put us at the head of the line.

Granted us privileges we don’t even realize.

We don’t experience the daily disadvantages - the looks, the fear, the hassles - that thrive in the unspoken world of white entitlement.

And that’s unfair.

(via sociolab)

Anime and the Social Construction of Race

imageA common misconception about anime cartoons amongst uninitiated audiences in majority-English-speaking countries is that anime characters are drawn to look ‘White’ rather than ‘Asian’. First of all, neither of terms are factual fixed categories - they are social constructions. That is, the meaning attached to race, whether ‘White’, ‘Black’, ‘Asian’ and so on, and the groups classified under these labels, change from one society to another, depending upon culture, time and place.

In an excellent exploration of the social construction of race in popular culture, sociologist Julian Abagond shows that Japanese animators do not, in fact, draw anime characters to personify their aspiration to be ‘white’. Instead, these characters reflect the animators’ own cultural biases - which is that Japanese people are the prototype model of the ‘default human being’. Abagond writes in Sociological Images:

imageIf I draw a stick figure, most Americans will assume that it is a white man. Because to them that is the Default Human Being. For them to think it is a woman I have to add a dress or long hair; for Asian, I have to add slanted eyes; for black, I add kinky hair or brown skin. Etc.

The Other has to be marked. If there are no stereotyped markings of otherness, then white is assumed.

Americans apply this thinking to Japanese drawings. But to the Japanese the Default Human Being is Japanese! So they feel no need to make their characters “look Asian”. They just have to make them look like people and everyone in Japan will assume they are Japanese – no matter how improbable their physical appearance.

You see the same thing in America: After all, why do people think Marge Simpson is white? Look at her skin: it is yellow. Look at her hair: it is a blue Afro. But the Default Human Being thing is so strong that lacking other clear, stereotyped signs of being either black or Asian she defaults to white…

When you think about it there is nothing particularly white about how anime characters look:huge round eyes – no one looks like that, not even white people (even though that style of drawing eyes does go back to Betty Boop).

  • yellow hair – but they also have blue hair and green hair and all the rest. Therefore hair colour is not about being true to life.
  • small noses – compared to the rest of the world whites have long noses that stick out.
  • white skin – but many Japanese have skin just as pale and white as most White Americans…

Some Americans, even some scholars, will argue against this view of anime. They want to think the Japanese worship America or worship whiteness and use anime to prove it.  But they seem to be driven more by their own racism and nationalism than anything else.

As Abagond’s analysis shows, perceptions of race and gender influence how people ‘read’, understand and draw meaning from animation. For Japanese animators, their characters reflect their view of normality - that everyone in their creation is Japanese (or Korean or Chinese or wherever the anime is produced). Audiences that have an uncritical view of race and Whiteness presume that ‘Asian’ drawings should look ‘Asian’. Yet this term - Asian - means different things to different groups. In Japan, the category of Asian is not very meaningful. Instead, mainstream Japanese culture portrays the Japanese people as the ‘default human being’. Gender and class also affect how this default human being is imagined (usually male, affluent and lean).

Just all art forms embody the biases and taken-for-granted cultural assumptions about the world, what audiences see in anime drawings are mediated by the ethnocentrism of the animators and audiences. Ethnocentrism is the belief that one’s group is superior to others. Viewers who think Japanese anime characters are trying to look ‘White’ are therefore viewing this artform through ethnocentrism.

Quotation originally from Abagond’s blog, via Sociological Images.

Image of Jubei from Ninja Scroll from Jinni.

Every year new groups organize to demand their ‘rights,’” he continued. “White people who organize and expect the same attention as other groups are quickly and viciously condemned as dangerous bigots. Hispanic, black, and Jewish caucuses can exist in the U.S. Congress, but not a white caucus, demonstrating the absurdity of this approach for achieving rights for everyone.

From Ron Paul’s 1987 book Freedom Under Siege

Let me guess, Lew Rockwell wrote Ron Paul’s book too? 

(via paxamericana)

Crocodile tears, diamond studded shit, poor white people, oh the horror, etc.

(via cwnl)

(via kenobi-wan-obi)