This post is only one of a number of posts regarding the white middle class in the U.S.A. The reality of social justice can only happen if we white people understand the where, how, when and why our privilege came about. I have recently had it shoved in my face (by someone I went to school with, and therefore they had the same information taught to them) that many of our white population’s understanding of history is literally “alternative fact” based.
Unless we white people understand our history and our European ethnic history, in particular, we white people — in general — will never understand how both institutional privilege and personal privilege have developed into what we have today.
Too many of us white people only EVER look at our personal and individual current conditions, ignoring that very important history. The “minorities” who live side by side with us cannot ever ignore white history.
I will try to post this at the top of every post I write in this series. I will attempt to keep each post to a summary, as re-teaching history to the US’s white population is a monumental task. I can only hope that my summaries will encourage my fellow white people to look deeper into our culture’s history and learn a thing or two.
To understand privilege, we need to go all the way back to ancient history to what is often arrogantly called “Western Civilization.” More often than not, “Western Civilization” is primarily the history of Europe and its colonies. “Eastern Civilization,” on the other hand, isn’t defined by a specific people or type of people. It is defined as essentially anything that is not European nor Europe’s particular colonies (in schools in the U.S.A. we attempt to separate ourselves out from being a “European colony” but…as adults we should face facts…our founding WAS as sets of a number of different European countries’ colonies.
OK, so back to what has been considered the history of “Western Civilization.” This “starts” with the Roman and Greek cultures, because our European ancestors glorified those cultures over any other culture that was alive, thriving and more technologically advanced. In fact, the Assyrian Empire, the Egyptian Empire (being ruled from Nubia at the time — yes, Nubia…the same country that our people of color refer to), Ancient China and Ancient India were ALL quite active and each had more advanced technology than what the Greeks had. One of the reasons Europe glorified the Greeks is simply the person of Alexander the Great. His tactics are still studied in many “Western civilizations.” The claim is that India and China made no impact on European culture, therefore they were just never “important enough.”
There is sadly a truism about dating in this over-connected world. There is always a seeming level of disconnect between the types of communication that are available to us. Someone you might enjoy the company of in person can become someone entirely different when texting or emailing.
Plus, we women have to make a risk assessment any time we physically meet someone we’ve only just met on the Internet. It’s actually something we have to do any time we’re out with someone – even someone we may have known for a while.
Men complain that we don’t trust them. That we assume the worst of them before they’ve even gotten a chance.
As girls, we’re taught that men and boys only want one thing — to have sex with us. So before we’ve even started dating, we’re already set up to be afraid — whether it is on a conscious level or not. Then, we’re taught to dress in a certain way, act in a certain way or any of hundreds of other little criticisms about our behavior that eventually mean that if a man or boy actually attacks us sexuality, we are already set up to believe that the problem is with us, that we somehow provoked the attack by how we dressed or how we acted. Rarely, until more recently, was it ever stated clearly in many public discussions that perhaps the rapist is the problem, not us.
I’ve been struggling since Election Tuesday to find ways to explain why there is a greater fear running through the “white, liberal, hetero, cis” community, let alone why many women within that listing are scared even more.
Additionally, trying to explain why the idea of the “safety pin” is actually quite bullshit.
I am forced to see both sides of the situation because I am a white, heterosexual, cis woman. But, for me, I stand firmly on the side of those who have been marginalized for decades (well, centuries, actually). Why? Because I am a woman.
We — defined as white America — have gotten used to being able to supposedly “support” different causes by putting a ribbon on it. But what in the hell does that actually DO for the cause?
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Catherine M. Buechner
is strictly prohibited.
Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Catherine Buechner, and The Demonized Other with appropriate and specific direction, including a link, to the original content.