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Things I don't have to think about
October 19, 2010 6:33 AM   Subscribe

Scalzi's at it again with another great post. "Things I don't have to think about" - thoughtful piece of writing from John Scalzi about privilege and how it impacts us all. The comments are worth the read as well.
posted by leslies (99 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
Today I don’t have to think about how I’m going to hail a cab past midnight.

How about in the middle of the while black and 6 months pregnant and with a 2 year-old tow? And the saddest part is that the white women and men who got rushed to while I was passed by were favored by black cabbies.

With that said, Scalzi knocks it out of the park with this post :)
posted by liza at 6:59 AM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


ugh, dyslexia's acting up: that should have been "in the middle of the day".
posted by liza at 7:00 AM on October 19, 2010


Gah. It was full of excellent points, but incredibly hard to read, because:

Today Scalzi demonstrated that rivers are really distracting.
posted by explosion at 7:08 AM on October 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


In order of reference: Minority(10), disabled(8), gay(7), female(7), Muslim(7), funny-looking(3), any/other(2)

What's he missing?
posted by clarknova at 7:11 AM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


From the comments:
# Patrick Nielsen Haydenon 18 Oct 2010 at 7:45 am
Spot on. The essence of privilege isn’t wearing a top hat and cackling yar har har while lighting expensive cigars with $100 bills. The essence of privilege is not having to worry about the crap that the unprivileged do


I'm teaching a 2nd year Soc of Gender course this year, and this is the point that has resonated the most with my students, male and female alike. It's so easy for many to think "I've never raped anyone, refused to hire or promote someone, protested against someone having the rights I have, etc..., so either sexism/homophobia/transphobia is over, or it exists in isolated incidences that have nothing to do with me." When we learn about systemic issues such as how lack of affordable daycare restricts women's employment opportunities, leading to pay disparity, etc, I try to remind them that this is how it happens, there doesn't need to be a secret cabal meeting deep underground plotting "How are we going to oppress the womenfolk today?" You don't need to have refused a promotion to a woman, but you do benefit from a system that evaluates men's and women's accomplishments differently, and as long as we do not think about that, we can tell ourselves that we have no responsibility for it.

I remember learning about the invisible backpack idea when I was an undergrad and how it BLEW MY MIND. I briefly mentioned the backpack lists to my students and already they are mentioning the points in class and in essays, so I guess it still has its power. This article is almost better, because Scalzi suggests an action. Even if I might not have to think about certain things, I will.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:13 AM on October 19, 2010 [25 favorites]


Today Scalzi demonstrated that rivers are really distracting.

I think it's simpler than that. This is one of the few "tl;dr"-worthy internet postings I've ever seen. That many sentences with exactly the same structure makes readers cry. It would have been much more effective if it were shorter, which is saying something because it is plenty effective as it is.
posted by LiteOpera at 7:14 AM on October 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure I find it terribly thoughtful, beautiful, resonant etc. It's just a long list of things that some people discriminate against - and an idea I've seen numerous places before. I do, however, like clarknova's pithy summary.
posted by rhymer at 7:16 AM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


That many sentences with exactly the same structure makes readers cry.

I actually went and put it into word, and got rid of all but the first "today I don't have to think about." Much easier to read after that.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 7:17 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I feel like I read this years ago, in sociology class. It's nice, but it's not original.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:31 AM on October 19, 2010


The mental image of Scalzi that formed reading this looks nothing like his picture.
posted by davelog at 7:33 AM on October 19, 2010


My wife is temporarily disabled due to an injury and it's really been an eye opener to us as to how much stuff most of us don't think about. Being disabled means constantly thinking about how accessable every place you go is. And generally the answer is "not very or at all".
posted by octothorpe at 7:35 AM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


It doesn't have to be original. In this case it comes from a popular (and white, and male) science fiction writer. A lot of people who would never think of attending a sociology class nonetheless read Scalzi's blog.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:38 AM on October 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Today I am having a very bad pain day. I was just woken up by a tooth throbbing, and then a set of electrical shock like pains down the side of my face. A bad Trigeminal neuralgia flare, it seems, has decided to visit me. My hip and hand have hurt for days now, due to an arthritic flare up, and today they are just as bad as ever. So I took a pill that would knock most people out, and hope it will kick in shortly enough to dull the pain so I can go back to sleep. One that I remember the new pharmacist doing a slight double take at the dose of when I picked it up. One that I have to go to the doctor every month to get a new prescription of.

But I got up to check my email, since I was awake, and it was something to distract me from how badly I hurt. Then I checked here. And saw this.

And even with how much I hurt today, it made me smile.
posted by strixus at 7:42 AM on October 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


It doesn't have to be original....A lot of people who would never think of attending a sociology class nonetheless read Scalzi's blog.

I've never been to a sociology class either. I still think it's a bit like a Hallmark card with a university education.
posted by rhymer at 7:52 AM on October 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


I see this post, plus his "Being Poor," and Danoah's recent posts on bullying and perfection, as evidence of important topics finally getting talked about. They're hard to read and must have been hard to write, but they are vital issues to air out -- and the torrents of comments attest that many people feel the same.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:55 AM on October 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm glad Scalzi is writing posts like this and that they're accessible to a broad audience that might never take a sociology course (or missed it when they were in college or never had access or whatever other reason), but sometimes the praise that Scalzi and others like him get for writing posts that recognize their own privilege bother me a little. It makes me a bit sad to think that reflecting on/being aware of your own privilege is worth so many internet cookies when it ought to be a part of people's regular mental/emotional hygiene.
posted by immlass at 7:58 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


a Hallmark card with a university education.

Is this supposed to be a bad thing?
posted by LogicalDash at 8:00 AM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


I still think it's a bit like a Hallmark card with a university education.

Interesting. I got a college education. In my first year, I was taught that criticism is a lot more than a slight rejoinder based on an unsupported opinion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:02 AM on October 19, 2010 [15 favorites]


I still think it's a bit like a Hallmark card with a university education.

What does it mean for those of us who do have to think about some of those things on that list every day whether we want to or not? When it's not in Hallmark card form, but in the form of a guy screaming at me on the subway on my way to work? Or in the form of a woman muttering at me "Go back to China" behind me in line after her unsupervised kid runs into my stationary leg at a store? Or being told point blank "get out of here" by a crew of white men at a gas station when I'm filling up an empty gas tank in central California?

It's a mark of privilege that you can read this list and find it corny like a $2 card from your corner drugstore.
posted by shen1138 at 8:06 AM on October 19, 2010 [65 favorites]


immlass: "It makes me a bit sad to think that reflecting on/being aware of your own privilege is worth so many internet cookies when it ought to be a part of people's regular mental/emotional hygiene."

To be fair, I don't think it's Scalzi's own awareness that he's getting internet cookies (great phrase, I'm borrowing that), but rather increasing the likelihood of others examining their own privilege through posts like this one, which will, given Scalzi's reading demographic, be overwhelmingly read (and hopefully internalised) by white, middle-class (and I'd guess more than 50% male) folks.

Sorry, bracket-mania.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:06 AM on October 19, 2010


I guess at least the "I'm so cool and above it all" derail is better than the "I'm not racist/sexist/homophobic so don't talk to me" response I was expecting.
posted by kmz at 8:07 AM on October 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


I got a college education. In my first year,I was taught that criticism is a lot more than a slight rejoinder based on an unsupported opinion.

OK, here goes. My Hallmark comment was shorthand for:

I find this kind of thing emotionally manipulative. It's meant to make you feel bad; it's meant to choke you up. But it's not really meant to make you think beyond the obvious (in this case, discrimination is bad, mmkay?). It's the written equivalent of a tearjerker movie.

I'm sure the author's a nice guy. I support the basic premise. But is it a bit like a highbrow Hallmark card? In my opinion, yes. FWIW, I also think all this information was actually in my original comment. Brevity isn't always a bad thing you know.
posted by rhymer at 8:10 AM on October 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


Hallmark cards don't communicate much, but they do so effectively enough to sustain a business.

The idea of societal privilege is not very complex, but people seem to have a hard time grasping it anyway. I'd like to make it easier to grasp, so, maybe Hallmark cards like this are just the thing.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:11 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Today I don’t have to think about those who hear “terrorist” when I speak my faith.
Today I don’t have to think about the people who’d consider torching my house of prayer a patriotic act.
Today I don’t have to think about turning on the news to see people planning to burn my holy book.


True, there are certain advantages to being an atheist.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:13 AM on October 19, 2010 [9 favorites]


Happy Dave, I'm not complaining at Scalzi here; I think he did a good job with the post. Nor am I suggesting he wrote it for the e-praise. I just think it's sad that the reading demographic needs regular reinforcement or, worse, sometimes, it seems like they just plain need an introduction to the concept.
posted by immlass at 8:14 AM on October 19, 2010


immlass: "sometimes, it seems like they just plain need an introduction to the concept."

Everyone does, sooner or later.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:15 AM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


rhymer: "I got a college education. In my first year,I was taught that criticism is a lot more than a slight rejoinder based on an unsupported opinion.

OK, here goes. My Hallmark comment was shorthand for:

I find this kind of thing emotionally manipulative. It's meant to make you feel bad; it's meant to choke you up. But it's not really meant to make you think beyond the obvious (in this case, discrimination is bad, mmkay?). It's the written equivalent of a tearjerker movie.



That's a matter of perspective. You could also say it's meant to make you reconsider your own view of the privelege you have which makes it possible to go through life without having to worry about a rather large number of things. We can go back and forth on the relative value of something as accessible as a list like this vs a long essay or even a well put together visual of some kind, but one man's 'emotionally manipulative' is another man's 'startlingly effective'.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:17 AM on October 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Today I don’t have to think about turning on the news to see people planning to burn my holy book.

Although occasionally religious types really think they're sticking it to the atheists by burning a copy of Origin of Species.

That was a Penguin Classics edition, you animals!
posted by electroboy at 8:19 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


immlass: "Happy Dave, I'm not complaining at Scalzi here; I think he did a good job with the post. Nor am I suggesting he wrote it for the e-praise. I just think it's sad that the reading demographic needs regular reinforcement or, worse, sometimes, it seems like they just plain need an introduction to the concept."

Agreed, but you gotta start somewhere.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:19 AM on October 19, 2010


Today Scalzi demonstrated that rivers widows are really distracting.

I don't get the "have to think" thing. I knew where he was going, but it seems a little contrived.

It would have been much more effective if it were shorter, which is saying something because it is plenty effective as it is.

True. Paragraph form would have worked better. And + 1 editor.

I like Scalzi as a writer but this one isn't one of his better ones, imo. Reads like a bad poem.

Today I don’t have to think about all the things I don’t have to think about.

☼ w h o a ☼

previously

you gotta start somewhere

Fair enough. However, it seems most readers of/contributors to MetaFilter are past that point. On the other hands, I'm sure there are new self-involved, narcissistic young readers every day ...
posted by mrgrimm at 8:23 AM on October 19, 2010


immlass: "internet cookies"

I think part of what you're seeing here is that Scalzi's blog is already very popular, and damn near every entry gets a boatload of comments. The amount of Scalzi-worship in the thread is not terribly unusual.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:23 AM on October 19, 2010


I find this kind of thing emotionally manipulative. It's meant to make you feel bad; it's meant to choke you up. But it's not really meant to make you think beyond the obvious (in this case, discrimination is bad, mmkay?).

Hm. I completely disagree with that being the point. Making people aware of their own privilege is not the same thing as making somebody be aware that discrimination is bad. The trick to privilege is that it is invisible to those who have it -- it doesn't feel like privilege, because they're not even aware of having it. If you're not followed by security guards because of your skin color, you're not just going to be aware that this happens. Scalzi points out that the mark of privilege is not having to think about it -- in fact, privilege is constructed precisely so that it is very hard to think about it, because you have to be made aware of how other people don't have it before you can even see your access to it. And he does so by listing the ways in which other people don't have access to it.

I think you're responding to the form, but misinterpreting the content. And I don't see any of this as being a language of shaming (which would be meant to make someone feel bad), but instead of awareness. I mean, there's not really much we can do about our own privilege. We can't, say, make someone respond to being heterosexuality the way they might to homosexuality. We get a free pass on it, and we just get it, and the issue is not that we have it, but that others don't.

But we can try to make sure we extend that privilege to others when it is denied them. But we can't do that unless we're aware precisely how that privilege is denied others. And Scalzi has made a short and necessarily incomplete list of how that happens, but once you start seeing the logic behind the list, it is possible to extend that logic further.

It's also important to know how privilege works because people's unawareness of how they benefit from it causes them to think that people who are denied that privilege must be at fault for it. After all, people who have privilege did nothing to earn it, it just came to them. So what's wrong with the other person if they don't have it? And we're often not even sure what the other person doesn't have, so what the hell are they complaining about?

It's a useful exercise. But, then, Hallmark cards are also useful. Sometimes you need to send a message, and send it in a short, clear way.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:26 AM on October 19, 2010 [36 favorites]


It's a very important, compassionate message done in a highly digestible, sentimental (hence "Hallmark") fashion. There are worse messages and worse ways to deliver it out there. Complaining about or stridently defending this particular blog post seems a little heavy handed considering what it is.

Either way, it's interesting to note that while maybe for others it comes easy, for me, it is very difficult work to climb into the daily experience of someone else.
posted by victors at 8:26 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


mrgrimm:

you gotta start somewhere

Fair enough. However, it seems most readers of/contributors to MetaFilter are past that point. On the other hands, I'm sure there are new self-involved, narcissistic young readers every day ..."

Scalzi gets (at least) 15,000 uniques a day and pieces like this tend to get linked widely, so it's fair to say we're not the key audience for this.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:27 AM on October 19, 2010


Chicken Soup for the MeFite's Soul.

The only thing shallower would be to comment on it...

Uh, that is... um... I mean...
posted by Mike D at 8:33 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I liked it, and I'm glad he wrote it and posted it.
posted by rtha at 8:35 AM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


it's fair to say we're not the key audience for this.

Well, not for Scalzi's post, but we certainly are for the FPP. That said, I read the Scalzi piece earlier today, and was moved by it. The weird thing is, I don't usually notice my lack of privilege until someone points it out in this way.
posted by bardophile at 8:38 AM on October 19, 2010


I find this kind of thing emotionally manipulative. It's meant to make you feel bad; it's meant to choke you up.

This is a common reaction. People who are privileged (i.e. pretty much everyone) naturally feel bad when reminded of it, especially those of us (straight white able-bodied males) who are multiply privileged. We react defensively, lashing out against the apparent source or our shame.
It doesn't need to be that way. You shouldn't feel bad or ashamed of being privileged, as long as you recognize and acknowledge the fact that you are, Nobody is blaming you personally for discrimination, even though it may seem like it sometimes. All you need to do is acknowledge your privilege, give some thought to how it must be on the "other side", and live life accordingly. If you do that, you can live a guilt-free privileged life.
posted by rocket88 at 8:39 AM on October 19, 2010 [14 favorites]


[A few comments removed. Neither "I don't care" nor it's rhetorical-question cousin is generally a good comment, if you don't know and don't care then just skip the thread.]
posted by cortex at 8:41 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


But it's not really meant to make you think beyond the obvious (in this case, discrimination is bad, mmkay?). It's the written equivalent of a tearjerker movie.

I dunno--there are a lot of people for whom "the obvious" is not obvious. Last week a queer/trans friend of mine wrote a really good blog post inviting straight/cisgendered people to also consider coming out for National Coming Out day--he was wanting to encourage these people to think about their gender and sexuality in a way they had never been forced to do. A lot of my friends re-posted it on Facebook, and I was surprised by how many comments were like, "Wow, I've never thought of that," or even, "Why do these people spend so much time obsessing about their sexuality? I've never given mine a second thought! It's so self-indulgent." Not only was this kind of thing not at all obvious to a lot of people, but it didn't set off the clue-meter for them once it was pointed out. It starts to feel obvious to some of us because we started thinking about this kind of thing 20 or 30 years ago, and so many of the people we know think about this kind of thing, and it's easy to forget how many people have managed to completely miss the obvious for their whole lives.

A few years ago, my partner and I had to take a "becoming a transracial family" class to qualify to adopt an African-American baby (we're white). The reading materials arrived in the mail, and we were actively offended by them. They were written like we'd never given a thought to race and racism! The list of "bad reasons to adopt a black baby" was condescending ("because black babies are so cute!") and the list of "nicknames not to call your black baby" just annoying--like I was going to call my baby "brown sugar"! Like I needed to be told that poverty is more common among Blacks than among whites! Or that Black people's hair is often different in texture than white people's hair, or that there is variation among Black people's hair, it's not all the same! I mean, sheesh, what the hell kind of idiot do they think I am?

And then the class started. And we found out exactly what the hell kind of idiot these educators were commonly dealing with. The other white couples actually said things like "black babies are so cute!" and "there are no black people where we live, but we don't have a problem with racism here," and "we figure people are just people, the color of their skin doesn't matter." And we realized those offensively basic materials--not even Racism 101, but Remedial Racism For The Totally Clueless--that we had been sent had not been written with us in mind. But they had been written with the majority of the people who take these classes in mind. The educators knew their audience.

So, maybe Scalzi's post doesn't make you think beyond the obvious. But something in there is beyond the obvious for a lot of people.
posted by not that girl at 8:41 AM on October 19, 2010 [44 favorites]


I imagine most people on here are aware of their privilege (As mrgrimm says, it seems most readers of/contributors to MetaFilter are past that point) I mean, I don't think about every waking moment. But it does occur to me pretty regularly that by almost any yardstick, I am enormously lucky and privileged in any number of ways. I'm not sure I need a blog post to remind of this.
posted by rhymer at 8:47 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Given some of the discussions we've had on this site around race, class, sexual orientation, gender, etc., I wouldn't be so quick to say that mefites are not also among the intended audience.
posted by rtha at 8:52 AM on October 19, 2010 [16 favorites]


MetaFilter's own John Scalzi, by the way.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:57 AM on October 19, 2010


black babies are so cute!

Metafilter, I know you have it in you to derail this thread into an argument about whether black babies are cute or not. Please don't let me down.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:59 AM on October 19, 2010


I think part of what you're seeing here is that Scalzi's blog is already very popular, and damn near every entry gets a boatload of comments. The amount of Scalzi-worship in the thread is not terribly unusual.

I'm not a regular reader of Scalzi's, but I click through to links often enough that I'm familiar with his comments section. While I want to repeat that I'm not accusing Scalzi of writing this for any other reason than that he felt the need/desire to write and post it, I've seen plenty of renditions of the same themes that I did feel were written to prove the author's enlightenment and for e-praise and internet cookies. I may also be responding to the post framing as a single link with a non-critical (in the academic sense) approach to the thread.

As others have said in this thread, without patting ourselves on the back too hard, the set of Mefites that comment on these sorts of threads are self-selecting. We already think about these issues and want to talk about them or we wouldn't be here. Not everybody has the time and/or interest to consider privilege issues. Maybe that should go on the next list: Today I don't have to spend so much time worrying about (money, food, etc.) that I can navelgaze about what a privileged git I am.
posted by immlass at 9:00 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I remember the first time I saw a jscalzi comment toward the end of a thread - I had just finished reading two of his books - "Old Man's War" and "Ghost Brigade". I made some gibbering, foolish, anthem of a comment and immediately felt like an idiot. He was, and is, a really cool, accessible guy who seems to grock our modern world in a way that's refreshing and, I believe, it informs his writing.
I've been so disappointed, so many times, to learn about the personal beliefs and politics of some of my favorite scifi authors (Orson Scott Card was probably the most devastating), Scalzi is an awesome guy and I'm always stoked to see his essays posted here and elsewhere.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:08 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


rtha: "Given some of the discussions we've had on this site around race, class, sexual orientation, gender, etc., I wouldn't be so quick to say that mefites are not also among the intended audience."

I meant in terms of traffic share, i.e. Scalzi writes for a much bigger audience than just us and we probably weren't at the forefront of his brain when he was writing it. But yes, there are invisible backpacks aplenty in this parish.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:12 AM on October 19, 2010


This was not "hard to read" and I expect it wasn't "hard to write." It's a minor contribution to an extremely worn prose genre that is popular and generates warm "me too"s on the blogs, but is not really interesting at all. People will praise to the skies what they find familiar and affirming.

Reminds me of someone's novels. . . .

I don't dispute this thing's reason for existence, but I'm a bit baffled to find it on Metafilter. If you reposted the original "invisible backpack" piece, it would be gone in seconds, regardless of its merits -- the post would not be new or special. It would be no excuse to say that the points it makes are still true.
posted by grobstein at 9:12 AM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I really appreciated that he put in a bunch about ableist privilege, which is often skipped on "laundry lists of privilege." I have two permanently disabled parents (out of five parents total), so it's really been a wake-up call for me to see what kind of shit they have to encounter on a daily basis that I and other able-bodied folk take for granted.

(I laughed at that the "I'm told I'm lucky that I 'get to' park closer to the store" one. I've totally heard that in reference to my mom's handicapped placard and it boggles my mind every time.)
posted by sonika at 9:18 AM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Some valuable context is missing here. T'was almost a year ago to the day that Scalzi inadvertently became a central node in what became known as RaceFail 09.

If I can sum up such a wide-ranging flame war, which seemed at some points to engulf the entire internet in its furious conflagration: one sci fi author was called out on some stuff which could be construed as racist. Other sci fi authors rushed to the defense, and many Unfortunate Words Were Spoken. Some of them (by his own later admission) by Scalzi himself, on that there blog.

RaceFail '09 was many things. Most of them horrible. But it was also a valuable learning experience for a lot of people; sci fi authors and fans both. It caused the examination of a lot of formerly-unexamined privilege, and that's something you can't put back in the box.

That was my experience of it, at least. And when I read this most recent post, I realized that it was apparently his experience, as well.

Privilege often means the luxury of not having to think about unpleasant things if you don't want to. I think it's always valuable to recognize that for yourself. If you recognize it because you just read a really heartfelt blog post, all the better.
posted by ErikaB at 9:18 AM on October 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


But it's not really meant to make you think beyond the obvious (in this case, discrimination is bad, mmkay?).

Then I think you missed the point. It's not actually about discrimination. It's about privilege. It's about the advantages that some people don't even realize that they possess. It's about the various things that some groups deal with on a daily basis that I don't even realize exist.

Okay, I led a fairly sheltered life and I never lived in the big city, but it was a bit of an eye-opener for me when I went off to college and I realized that most women were concerned walking around parts of the campus at night. I mean, really? SERIOUSLY? It never even occurred to me that this was a problem. I never, ever thought "I'm safe because I'm a big man" because it had never even occurred to me that safety or not was part of the equation. "Dress warm" was the sort of thing I worried about.

Every time a cop has pulled me over I knew that I'd done something wrong (well, except once. That turned out to be a registration issue that had gone unreported for nine years and was resolved very politely. I'm sure me being white had nothing to do with that). It's worth remembering that it doesn't work that way for everyone. Yeah, you know it and I know it, but lots of people don't. And if they recognize that then there's that other thing that they don't recognize.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:20 AM on October 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


I find this kind of thing emotionally manipulative. It's meant to make you feel bad; it's meant to choke you up.

So what? I still feel a hell of a lot less bad than if I had to deal with the actual situations in Scalzi's list.
posted by i_cola at 9:24 AM on October 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yes, this isn't his best-written piece, yes, I suppose it's trite, but until these issues go away, those of us with privilege need to see these things as often as possible. Don't tell me that "people know this" because they don't - I've had long conversations with well-meaning people who still would not believe that millions of American children go to bed hungry every day, or that it might be harder to get a job or home because you were black.

My sister grew up in Canada and she told me once that there was never a time in her life when she felt that anything expected anything less from her because she was a woman. I wished my mother had been alive to hear that!

Until this statement is true for all Americans, and for African-Americans and gays and ugly people, articles like this will continue to be necessary.

And things are, I believe, actually getting worse and not better. The Republicans and the Tea Baggers have made hate speech respectable again - the permanent recession (because, face up to it, those jobs are never coming back!) has hit people of colour more than blanks.

The only non-white-straight-male group who IMHO has steadily improved their lot has been the gay community - sure, there are temporary setbacks but the people who really care are dying off very fast due to age (and, I hope, apoplexy due to their homophobic rage) and the shift from "gays are evil" to "gays are cute" has happened extremely fast. I still think it'd be a long time before two men can walk hand in hand in any city in the US, but I might live to see it - and it's still not the case after generations of civil rights improvements that a black man and a white woman could do this...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:02 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem with lists like this is that EVERYONE has a disadvantage.

Because I am not a straight, healthy, white man:

I don't have to worry about people accussing me of horrific things if I hug my 11-year-old niece.

I can wear skirts or trousers as I like - or bright colours, or high heels, or overalls, or combat boots or all at the same time - and have no one harass me. (Though they may despair at my fashion sense).

If I lose my wallet, the bus driver will let me get on for free to get home -- unlike my (straight, healthy, white) brother, who was made to walk when this happened to him. I got a free ride when it happened to me.

I am less likely to be physically assaulted.

I am less likely to be in jail.

I will not be drafted, and in countries where people of my gender are drafted (i.e. Israel), concientious objectors of my gender are allowed to go free while male concientious objectors are jailed.

I can make choices about my reproductive future, and never have the will of my partner (to either have an abortion or carry a child to term) forced on me in the case of an unplanned pregnancy.

Today and in the past, I have role-models of my gender in elementary school classes.

I have always been told that I can be whatever I want to be -- whether that is a business executive or a home-maker.

-------

And I could go on and on, just like these lists always do.

I am not claiming that straight, healthy white men are more disadvantaged than other people -- but disadvantage is not a simple zero-sum game ("X group is disadvantaged, therefore Y is not"). All groups face varying issues, and these lists are nothing but disorganised, unsophisticated pablum that make people feel smug if they see themselves in them.

What we need are fewer of these lists -- and more complex, data-driven and insightful analyses of social organisation.
posted by jb at 10:07 AM on October 19, 2010 [18 favorites]


I laughed at that the "I'm told I'm lucky that I 'get to' park closer to the store" one. I've totally heard that in reference to my mom's handicapped placard and it boggles my mind every time.

Both my mother (my dad was handicapped) and my friend whose husband was handicapped for 2 years have gone on at great length about how that was the ONLY good thing that came from having a disabled husband.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:10 AM on October 19, 2010


If you reposted the original "invisible backpack" piece, it would be gone in seconds, regardless of its merits -- the post would not be new or special. It would be no excuse to say that the points it makes are still true.

I guess that's true, yeah. The unfortunate fact is that battling discrimination is a tedious iterative process. I bet you that the vast, vast majority of American white male university graduates (Which is only a small, privileged band of society to begin with) have never heard of the invisible backpack thing.
posted by atrazine at 10:11 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I still think it'd be a long time before two men can walk hand in hand in any city in the US, but I might live to see it - and it's still not the case after generations of civil rights improvements that a black man and a white woman could do this...

I don't know whether I'll live to see the former or not, but I do know that I feel a renewed anxiety about even testing the possibility of doing this (especially in the South) with my partner that I didn't feel a year ago after the publicized attacks against gay men and teenagers in New York City and the concerted and unified ramp-up of anti-gay hysteria among politicians like Carl Paladino ("I don't think it's proper for them [Cuomo's daughters] to go there and watch a couple of grown men grind against each other. I don't think that's proper. I think it's disgusting") and religious "leaders" like LDS potentate Boyd Packer (“Some suppose that they were born preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural").

I live in a relatively big city. I feel more unsafe out in public now. It's a direct result of this trend that I feel that way. It's not something that haunts me or that I dwell upon, because what would be the point? But is it in the back of my mind? Hell yes.

So, yeah, big steps forward and all that, hurrah, but gays are hardly as "cute" in as many places as you might expect.
posted by blucevalo at 10:20 AM on October 19, 2010


it seems most readers of/contributors to MetaFilter are past that point

Doesn't seem that way to me. It seems to me like a lot of MeFi, like a lot of the science fiction community that's probably most of Scalzi's blog readership, like a lot of the U.S. (I don't feel qualified to speak for elsewhere), would benefit from a solid intro to Privilege 101. Kudos to Scalzi for using the bully pulpit of his popular blog to write and publish it.

RaceFail '09 was many things. Most of them horrible.

But I found the highest points to also appear on Scalzi's blog with the two part guest post from Mary Ann Mohanraj and another from K. Tempest Bradford.

My wife is temporarily disabled due to an injury and it's really been an eye opener to us as to how much stuff most of us don't think about.

For a year or so in the nineties, I was in fingertip-to-shoulder pain in both arms from a repetitive stress injury. It really was amazing just how narrow the infrastructure's margins are when it comes to physical ability.
posted by Zed at 10:21 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Emotionally manipulative" is a strange criticism. I get that you would like it better if this piece were some entirely different piece that gave you something new to think about. Instead, it is a bit of poetry meant to get people to pay attention--advertising an idea, essentially. This is what it is meant to do, so calling it "emotionally manipulative" is attacking it for achieving its intended aim.
posted by LogicalDash at 10:27 AM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


In my first year, I was taught that criticism is a lot more than a slight rejoinder based on an unsupported opinion.

I hope the irony of demanding support for a criticism of a list of entirely unsubstantiated asseverations isn't lost on you.
posted by Law Talkin' Guy at 10:36 AM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


The problem with lists like this is that EVERYONE has a disadvantage.

The way I look at it is that EVERYONE has some degree of privilege in some part of their life. I am a woman of color and a lesbian, and yet still, I have privilege. It is not reserved only for people who are male, white, and straight. Privilege, in this context, is something that is invisible and that you never have to think about until you have to think about it. It's better if you can think about it before you are required by circumstances to do so. It's better for you and it's better for the communities you live in.
posted by rtha at 10:42 AM on October 19, 2010 [20 favorites]


All groups face varying issues, and these lists are nothing but disorganised, unsophisticated pablum that make people feel smug if they see themselves in them.

I don't think 'these lists' are about disadvantage so much as assumed privilege. Because white able-bodied men are the default unmarked category in contemporary western society, posts like these are written not to suggest that white able-bodied men aren't disadvantaged in some way but to suggest that the ways in which they are advantaged are assumed and thus folded into the systemization of culture.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:01 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Today I don't have to think about paying a mortgage.
I don't have to think about getting up for work.
I don't have to worry about having kids, taking care of them, or what schools they'll go to.
Today I can travel with just the clothes on my back; I'll find whatever I need where I'm going.
Today I'll see things you never will.

And so on.
posted by Eideteker at 11:16 AM on October 19, 2010


JB, as a straight, (mostly) healthy white man, I thank you for stopping to consider the numerous slings and arrows that outrageous fortune has beset upon me, but your list consists of the largely incorrect (there hasn't been a draft since 1973 in the United States, the last physical fight that I got in was in 1985 and was embarrassing, rather than injurious, to both of us) or irrelevant (you have more fashion choices? Someone gave you a free ride on the bus once?). The best thing that I can say about it is that it supports Scalzi's point, rather than refutes it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:03 PM on October 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


the last physical fight that I got in was in 1985 and was embarrassing, rather than injurious, to both of us

Partially class privilege though, right?
posted by atrazine at 12:09 PM on October 19, 2010


as evidence of important topics finally getting talked about.

Finally getting talked about by (some) white men, you mean?

I guess one privilege that Scalzi should consider is that he doesn't have to worry about whether anyone will listen to what he has to say.
posted by muddgirl at 12:09 PM on October 19, 2010


Then again, Nordic-normatives breeze by with these:

Today I don't have to think about
...if surfing internet can cost me my job.
...if I can afford higher education.
...if my children can afford higher education.
...reserving money for sudden healthcare expenses.
...if my bosses can fire me at will.
...losing healthcare.
...that visiting some countries I would be hated because of my nationality.
...that my bicycle makes me a second class road user.
...that anyone politically close to me has no chance to get voted in.
...that my atheism endangers my political future.
...if I need a lawyer.

Safety is the number of shared privileges.
posted by Free word order! at 12:10 PM on October 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Finally getting talked about by (some) white men, you mean?

It's been said here before: Everyone is privileged. Men of color are privileged. White women are privileged. We can all stand to think about and talk about these issues, not just (some) white men.
posted by rocket88 at 12:46 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Today I don't have to think about how I will find something, anything, to eat.

Today I don't have to think about where I will get the dollar that I need to keep my child in school this term.

Today I don't have to think about how to care for my mother dying of AIDS, and my little baby sister, while I am still only a child myself.

There are people who do have to think about these things.

And it's not only Zimbabwe.

What's out there in the world makes worrying about catching a cab at night and whether people recognize your marriage fade into total insignficance.
posted by philipy at 12:56 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can we please not turn this into the Disadvantage Olympics? The points made in Scalzi's post are valid. It is not a competition.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:03 PM on October 19, 2010 [14 favorites]


I guess one privilege that Scalzi should consider is that he doesn't have to worry about whether anyone will listen to what he has to say.

I think he does consider that, for what it's worth. I don't know him, but he has a fairly successful blog, and to turn it over as he did to Mohanraj and Bradford demonstrates some understanding of the fact that people do listen to what he has to say and so his blog can serve to highlight less-heard voices. (Not that Mohanraj and Bradford are voices in the wilderness by any means, but I suspect Scalzi has a wider following.) I understand that this was in part to make amends for his foot-in-mouth activity, but for me, at least, that went a step above the necessary apology.

Further, while I take a lot of issue with antiracist terminology and phrasing, I think there's a lot of merit to the idea that "allies" can serve to educate and illuminate the wider audience in a way that minority activists can't, won't, or shouldn't have to, primarily because privileged allies are not subject to the same kinds of automatic dismissals or marginalizations that minority voices are. So I think that Scalzi seems quite aware that he is heard in a way that others aren't, and using his voice to make this message heard is part of a useful and beneficial movement of extending his own privilege.

For what it's worth, as someone who thinks about this stuff quite a bit, I read Scalzi's piece and was reminded of many points of my own privilege I don't usually consider. It may be that there are people so illuminated that all of this seems a bit remedial, but I'm not one of them, and I am grateful for the reminder.
posted by Errant at 1:07 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


What's out there in the world makes worrying about catching a cab at night and whether people recognize your marriage fade into total insignficance

Recognizing that other people have it worse than you doesn't mean that what you're experiencing is a-okay. As I said in an askme answer, if it's fucking up your life, it's bad. The fact that other peoples' lives might be more fucked is awful, but it doesn't unfuck yours.

Does the fact that I might have the first-world luxury of worrying about [something on scalzi's list] instead of hiding from rampaging rapists invading my village mean that I have privilege? Why yes, yes it does. Does that mean that should therefore stop caring about the shit that directly affects me? No. Does it mean that I can't care about my life as well as the lives of other people? No.

Yeah. It's not a competition.
posted by rtha at 1:14 PM on October 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


It's been said here before: Everyone is privileged. Men of color are privileged. White women are privileged. We can all stand to think about and talk about these issues, not just (some) white men.

I thought about immediately clarifying my statement, but I didn't. Whoops!

I meant to say, in a pithy way, that this issue has been "finally discussed" both in the blogoverse and in real life for decades, but sometimes it feels like no one cares if feminists/anti-racists/anti-ableists/etc discuss it - it's only when a Mr. John Scalzi or Mr. Single Dad Laughing deign to enter the discussion that it's "finally getting talked about."

You know, because all those OTHER discussions never occurred?

To be clear: I am ABSOLUTELY NOT disrespecting the link in the original post. I think allies definitely have a "job" to do and I think that Scalzi's recent attempts to become a better ally have been admirable. I am specifically criticising this underlying assumption that, until white folks or men folks get around to discussing it, no one else is.
posted by muddgirl at 1:14 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Today Scalzi demonstrated that rivers are really distracting.

I too like rivers, which is good, because that post was god-awful.
posted by madajb at 1:24 PM on October 19, 2010


this underlying assumption

The underlying assumption of the comment I quoted, not of the OP.
posted by muddgirl at 1:25 PM on October 19, 2010


I meant to say, in a pithy way, that this issue has been "finally discussed" both in the blogoverse and in real life for decades, but sometimes it feels like no one cares if feminists/anti-racists/anti-ableists/etc discuss it - it's only when a Mr. John Scalzi or Mr. Single Dad Laughing deign to enter the discussion that it's "finally getting talked about."

Consider this rephrase: "finally discussed by people that a) were not discussing it before, b) hold a lot of the privilege in question, and c) have a large audience of people for whom (a) and (b) are true." Not perfect, but better, and I'm wiling to assume that it was implied.
posted by jedicus at 1:28 PM on October 19, 2010


The fact that it could go "implied" is exactly what I'm talking about.
posted by muddgirl at 1:33 PM on October 19, 2010


I agree, and point taken. It's the privilege of having your ideas taken seriously and discussed by others because you aren't dismissed as being a radical/extremist. If this post came from Jezebel instead of Scalzi's blog it would be a very different discussion.
posted by rocket88 at 1:48 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Exactly. When this sort of thing comes from a group disadvantaged by the assumptions enumerated, it's called 'complaining.'
posted by shakespeherian at 1:53 PM on October 19, 2010


I am specifically criticising this underlying assumption that, until white folks or men folks get around to discussing it, no one else is.

Sure, I agree with the idea that that notion is prevalent and I also share your criticism of it. (And, to clarify myself, I wasn't criticizing your comment, just adding on; I think we're coming from the same place.) I think it's the inverse of the stereotypical clueless person of majority coming into this kind of discussion and demanding that people educate them because they have just now bothered to show up.

I'm sort of troubled by the accusation of "wanting internet cookies" or "favorite-whoring" or whatever when it comes to this kind of blog post. It seems to me like that's in the same vein as the dismissals of minority opinion I was talking about before, in the same vein as those who scoff at male feminists because they're "just trying to get laid" or whatever. I don't know why it seems so implausible that someone, a writer no less, would take the time to write down some of the things he's thinking about. I don't know why sincerity provokes the immediate accusation of insincerity. I think it's probably ok to take people's opinions at face value if there's no compelling reason to think they're liars.
posted by Errant at 1:56 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


While I appreciate the whole idea of this article, I felt weird reading the ones that applied to my gender/ethnicity. I couldn't help but think "Arg, please don't try to tell people what it is like to be in my shoes" and "There is no reason to feel sorry for me". I like the idea of talking about privilege in the open, but I dunno...I felt a little patronized.
posted by Alison at 2:14 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know why it seems so implausible that someone, a writer no less, would take the time to write down some of the things he's thinking about.

Because he's heavily into self promotion. It helps sell his product. Nothing wrong with that, but this piece, which I'm willing to believe is sincere, seems tailor made for links and re-postings. Works, too. Me, I'd never heard of the guy before. Now I am Scalsi aware.

As to the time taken - I'm guessing he didn't break much of sweat.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:29 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because he's heavily into self promotion. It helps sell his product.

I honestly have no idea what it's like to live in a world where everything is marketing and nothing is true. I appreciate the insight.
posted by Errant at 2:37 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whether his intentions were honorable or not, it'sa message that many people have never heard. I've already forwarded it on to some friends and family (after reformatting it into a less eye-burning structure) because it's well written and articulates a lot of issues that do need consideration on a broader scale.

Way to go, Scalzi, though I confess I'm still not interested in you as a writer. Maybe someday.
posted by jnrussell at 2:37 PM on October 19, 2010


The fact that it could go "implied" is exactly what I'm talking about.

I was trying to give wenestvedt the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was not discounting, ignoring, or ignorant of the ideas and work of feminists/anti-racists/anti-ableists/etc.

If you are not willing to do so, that's fine, but consider the rephrase on its own merits then. Is it not important, is it not a victory when "people that a) were not discussing it before, b) hold a lot of the privilege in question, and c) have a large audience of people for whom (a) and (b) are true" finally discuss the issues that feminists/anti-racists/anti-ableists/etc have been trying to bring to wider attention for decades?

It seems to me that it's worth celebrating any time one's cause gains additional traction, especially when it gains traction with a group that has historically been resistant to it. I'm not sure I see the benefit in chastising Scalzi or anyone in his audience for not seeing the light sooner. And while an acknowledgment of the ideas and work of feminists/anti-racists/anti-ableists/etc would have been good, I likewise do not see a tremendous benefit in chastising Scalzi for not including one. We all stand on the shoulders of giants, and not every blog post needs a bibliography.
posted by jedicus at 2:55 PM on October 19, 2010


but consider the rephrase on its own merits then

Fine. I have no problem with the reframe as initially stated.

I'm not sure I see the benefit in chastising Scalzi or anyone in his audience for not seeing the light sooner.

I don't see a lot of chastizing from anyone, even me. Just a lot of "welcome to the party". I think that long-time allies do have some justification to point out that we've been partying here for a long time. Again, I wasn't criticisng Scalzi, I was criticizing wenestvedt.

And while an acknowledgment of the ideas and work of feminists/anti-racists/anti-ableists/etc would have been good, I likewise do not see a tremendous benefit in chastising Scalzi for not including one. We all stand on the shoulders of giants, and not every blog post needs a bibliography.

And here is where I start to disagree with you. As a privileged ally, it is absolutely essential - it is probably my primary directive - to point out when and where I am standing on the shoulders of overlooked giants. Otherwise I am just using my privilege in a different way. I would argue that Scalzi probably already recognizes this, given that he's opened his blog to less-privileged voices in the past.
posted by muddgirl at 3:30 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


And here is where I start to disagree with you. As a privileged ally, it is absolutely essential - it is probably my primary directive - to point out when and where I am standing on the shoulders of overlooked giants. Otherwise I am just using my privilege in a different way.

That's a fair point, but the distinction I was trying to make is that not every message and every medium lends itself to that directive. It would rapidly become distracting, tiresome, and ultimately meaningless if every supportive message from a privileged ally in every medium were accompanied by citations to the less-privileged people who came up with the ideas in the first place. Sometimes it's okay to discuss the immediate matter at hand without first fully establishing the context in which it sits.

I don't see a lot of chastizing from anyone, even me. ... I was criticizing wenestvedt.

It seems pretty clear from his post that wenestvedt is someone "in [Scalzi's] audience." I suppose we can quibble about whether criticism and chastisement are meaningfully different.

I think that long-time allies do have some justification to point out that we've been partying here for a long time.

It may be more effective to do so by pointing out the rich tradition of ideas and contributions from less-privileged voices rather than criticizing wenestvedt for not doing so, especially given that he is not, as far as I know (perhaps you know differently), a long-time ally who should have pointed out that tradition himself.
posted by jedicus at 3:58 PM on October 19, 2010


I honestly have no idea what it's like to live in a world where everything is marketing and nothing is true. I appreciate the insight.

Brave New World, alas. His is the problem of any celebrity or would-be celebrity who wants to one - do you exploit the brand in a good cause or just give money on the sly?
posted by IndigoJones at 4:01 PM on October 19, 2010


Does anyone suggest that you shouldn't care about the problems you personally face? Of course not.

Does anyone suggest not caring about the problems of other people in your city? Of course not.

What I suggest is you start facing up to what you yourself never have to think about, what the world as a whole is like, and actually doing something about it.
posted by philipy at 5:04 PM on October 19, 2010


What I suggest is you start facing up to what you yourself never have to think about, what the world as a whole is like, and actually doing something about it.

That's what Scalzi's piece is about. I'm sorry you don't agree with his particular examples. They are not the be-all and end-all of things lots of people never have to think about or deal with, and I don't think he, or anyone here would suggest they should be.
posted by rtha at 5:32 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's what Scalzi's piece is about

I understand that.

I'm sorry you don't agree with his particular examples.

I don't disagree with them... rather...

I added some things to his list that, even when he was thinking of stuff that he never has to think about, he so doesn't have to think about them or even hear of anyone that does, that they still didn't cross his radar.

And he is not remotely a bad person for that. But he is a typical person in that regard.

People aren't bad for not noticing these things But it's because they don't notice them, and think about them so seldom, that it's worth reminding everyone.

In this context, let's remember Prof Henderson, who feels it would be a considerable hardship to pay a bit more tax, though his household makes $400k pa.

His hardship is real to him. But I doubt anyone that made comments about "Disadvantage Olympics" etc would have felt much sympathy for him. Well, realize there are vast numbers of people in the world who would look at most of the issues on Scalzi's list exactly the way you (and I) would look at Henderson's idea of hardship.

And it's well to remember that fact when you're having a conversation about how privileged or not you are, and what goes on in the world that deserves your attention.

My intention was to briefly interrupt "your regularly scheduled programming", the media and net chatter which has people fixate on the same set of issues over and over, while utterly neglecting things that are far more brutal and affect far more people.

No doubt people will mostly be returning to their regularly scheduled programming immediately after reading my comment, and the people I mentioned will be out of sight, out of mind.

Which is where Scalizi's piece came in, so the circle of irony will be complete.
posted by philipy at 6:46 PM on October 19, 2010


I think maybe that your ironic, and to my "ear", accusatory tone, helped set a stage for a disagreement where there is none. A bunch of people were talking about some of the precise issues raised in the post, and you wanted to turn attention to issues that were not being addressed (and were not being addressed in part because of the privilege enjoyed by some/many/most people commenting here, and the author himself).

But your tone, for lack of a better word, introduced a note of competitiveness that I don't think is helpful in examining privilege.

This is my take on it. I certainly don't speak for anyone else.
posted by rtha at 7:10 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Previously on the blue in a link about prison, was the compliment of this:

"take what you're given and don't argue. Because you got lucky"

I don't approve of my society marginalizing those not in the influential majority, and when I see instances of this occur, or exist institutionally, I do my bit to fix that.

But while I live in a society where this privilege is available to me, I will use it, and use it to the hilt.

As such, I will position myself to benefit from as much of such privilege as I can. My society is an army that stands behind me, and an army that beats down the roads ahead of me. (It can also turn on me in the blink of an eye, so I have to be careful) but my point is, I'm not blithely unaware of my privilege - I seek it and I use it, deliberately and knowingly. Even as I disagree with and do my part to undermine the systems that create it.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:58 PM on October 19, 2010


White people sure like to congratulate themselves.
posted by bardic at 9:35 PM on October 19, 2010


Considering I follow Metafilter, I see plenty of Smug White Liberal material. But this is one of the Smuggest.

"Boo hoo hoo, I feel guilty because I have white privilege. I must put some Spike Lee movies in my Netflix queue."
posted by Yakuman at 12:52 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well good on you for being so humble!
posted by shakespeherian at 5:01 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


White people sure like to congratulate themselves.

Yes. Yes we do.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:15 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you feel guilty because of your privilege, you're doing it wrong.
posted by Errant at 10:41 AM on October 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


jscalzi has a followup post on his blog, addressing some of the questions raised here:
Along the way I’ve seem a little bit of discussion on whether I wrote the piece out of white male guilt or to get Internet cookies or because this is me marketing myself so people will buy my stuff. The latter I find a bit clueless (if you want to see me in actual marketing mode, I’ll be happy to outline everything I did for Clash of the Geeks), and as to the former, I’m not well known for feeling guilt or for needing approval. The reason I wrote it really is the simplest explanation: it was on my mind and I decided to write about it. That’s what Whatever is for.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:06 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


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