I Thought I Understood White Privilege. Then I Married a Black Man.
July 4, 2020 6:48 PM   Subscribe

 
Good Housekeeping published an article on white privilege?!

Good Housekeeping???
posted by schroedinger at 7:03 PM on July 4 [43 favorites]


Or every single time we fight and I say, “When you start yelling, I stop listening,”

We are so guilty of this on a societal scale. I've been on Twitter just following every black person I can to listen so I can work on my own internal biases.

Her Instagram though is another level. The latest set of stories is about a nice old white lady who calls their kid a "mutt". Like Jesus Fucking Christ it's 2020. If I was Jordan I would be entirely livid but then, the very next panel, you understand it even more. I'm a white person. If I fight with some old racist white woman I'm doing it on even ground, possibly even with the situation tilted in my favor. Jordan can't do that because if a black guy starts loudly cussing out an old white woman in a gated white person community he's got a SWAT team possibly gunning him down 15 minutes later.

Good intentions, benefit of the doubt, glass half full, whatever you want to call it, we (white people) need to start treating people by what they do instead of how they act towards us. We sure as hell need to be loud enough so that our black brothers and sisters know we have their back. Because that's what Genevieve's silence bought that old racist woman. She basically give an implicit nod towards the old white woman's racist behavior, that it was acceptable, and she wouldn't question it.

Thank you for posting this.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:17 PM on July 4 [17 favorites]


schroedinger: Good Housekeeping published an article on white privilege?!

Good Housekeeping???


I mean, I think they looked around at what was going on in the food media world, and then looked at their brand name, and figured now was as good a time as any.
posted by tzikeh at 7:18 PM on July 4 [3 favorites]


Good Housekeeping has been normalizing Black achievement and active politics for a decade now, maybe longer. They do it in a domestic context, but it isn’t secret.
posted by clew at 7:19 PM on July 4 [33 favorites]


I thought on the whole this was a good piece, and I'm very glad it exists in a magazine like Good Housekeeping. But a few minor things rubbed me the wrong way.

The first was the subheading: My relationship with Jordan has taught me more about race than any protest or rally ever could.

Protests and rallies aren't there to teach white people things about race. I mean, it's not the worst mindset to go to a protest with, I guess, that you want to learn more, but I hope it doesn't spill over into judging the worth of a protest based on what you personally as a white participant learn from it.

Another was this bit:
Intellectually, I knew the definition of the phrase: White privilege is the inherent advantages that come with being white. But I assumed I knew better than to let those advantages hinder my progressive way of life.

I find it weird that she's thinking about white privilege in terms of it hindering (or not) her progressive way of life. I don't even really know how to unpack this, but it's a bizarre centering of the self that's kind of similar to the bit about protests.

And finally, particularly with the ending "I am the mother of a black daughter. I am the wife of a black man" it reminded me irritatingly of those pieces about sexism where people talk about how they understood it is bad because they had a daughter. Like, there's a lot of the world out there beyond your personal family. I'm glad you finally realised it matters, much it kind of sucks that it took this much for you to get there.
posted by lollusc at 7:22 PM on July 4 [54 favorites]


And finally, particularly with the ending "I am the mother of a black daughter. I am the wife of a black man" it reminded me irritatingly of those pieces about sexism where people talk about how they understood it is bad because they had a daughter.

The worst part about those sexism pieces is that they're not even about realizing women have agency, they just want their daughter to remain "pure" and bad old men being sexist are a threat to that.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:26 PM on July 4 [8 favorites]


Good Housekeeping has been normalizing Black achievement and active politics for a decade now, maybe longer. They do it in a domestic context, but it isn’t secret.

I didn't know this. I thought it was a sort of utterly anodyne publication aimed towards middle-class-and-up white women.
posted by schroedinger at 7:30 PM on July 4 [4 favorites]


Teen Vogue has also been surprising for the past while. Don't let your suppositions define what is going on in these publications -- there is more happening in the world than you realize.
posted by hippybear at 7:32 PM on July 4 [15 favorites]


On the one hand, I know pieces like this are effective to reach out to an audience that still says things like “I’m your favorite progressive’s favorite progressive” while not knowing the most basic things about racism. On the other, I feel like she’s just at the beginning of a road she thinks she’s pretty far down, and I would be much more interested in a no-holds-barred piece by her husband.
posted by sallybrown at 7:32 PM on July 4 [31 favorites]


Oh, I know Teen Vogue has been hard at it. I just wasn't aware of Good Housekeeping's history.
posted by schroedinger at 7:46 PM on July 4 [1 favorite]


I feel like any time we have an article from a women's magazine posted here, people are surprised that they cover more than casserole recipes.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:54 PM on July 4 [90 favorites]


I feel like she’s just at the beginning of a road she thinks she’s pretty far down

I mean sure, she might not win the "best white ally" contest, but isn't getting it published now better than waiting 5 years until she's further along that road? I prefer the world where major publications are regularly hosting imperfect, cringe-y essays with an anti-racist heart than the silent status quo. We need to get to the point where even the most head-in-the-sand conservative white folks are bored to tears of this stuff because they've heard it a hundred times already.
posted by parallellines at 11:09 PM on July 4 [42 favorites]


I would definitely suggest that pieces from further down that road simply aren't that helpful to people who have just started. Like she points out, if you live in privilege and haven't seriously considered how your perspective is skewed, the kinds of arguments and complaints from people further down that road sound like making excuses for personal problems.

We need these kind of pieces - well-intentioned, maybe a little basic and clumsy - to try and get people receptive to the idea that their perspective is skewed, that they can't rely solely on their own experiences, and to be open to truly listen to the experiences of the marginalised.
posted by Merus at 11:35 PM on July 4 [30 favorites]


Or every single time we fight and I say, “When you start yelling, I stop listening,” without realizing that what I hear as a yell is just how they talk in his family, and that half the time I think I’m fighting with Jordan he isn’t even mad.

I wish more people understood this. My ex always told me I was being too loud, raising my voice too much when I wasn't even angry or talking that loudly. It really made me squash myself in a box, overly aware of my tone and how 'loud' I was constantly and I hated it.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 3:27 AM on July 5 [23 favorites]


Good Housekeeping published an article on white privilege?!

Here's Harvard Business Review on how to manage microaggressions
posted by Mrs Potato at 4:07 AM on July 5 [8 favorites]


I’ve worried about centering myself in these stories (something white women are awfully prone to do), but my Black friends and family have been broadly generous, saying they are grateful not to have to do the work to break down clearly the things they live with every day (even though, as one said, “It’s like racism 101 up in your feed, but if this is what the people need, please dear god, give it to them.”).

Possibly she's a little further down the road than what makes it into the Instagram stories.
posted by subdee at 8:56 AM on July 5 [3 favorites]


Well, she also discusses her ignorance of the hurdles her husband faces at work as a black man. This is someone who’s held high positions in journalism and in national political campaigns, been involved in planning the Women’s March, etc. and she didn’t realize there’s a pay disparity and workplace discrimination that might impact her husband? She comes to that realization but there’s zero reflection on how her ignorance might have hurt people who worked for her or with her. Maybe she’s playing her ignorance up because she thinks her readership might be further behind than she is? But this piece just seems so lacking.
posted by sallybrown at 9:07 AM on July 5 [9 favorites]


she didn’t realize there’s a pay disparity and workplace discrimination that might impact her husband? She comes to that realization but there’s zero reflection on how her ignorance might have hurt people who worked for her or with her.
More charitably, perhaps she was like most people in similar backgrounds and thought that was largely over and certainly not in the liberal circles she traveled in. Systemic discrimination is easy to miss when it’s not blatant guys in white hoods burning crosses but someone who was offered 20% less a couple decades ago never catching up in a culture which oh so conveniently has a taboo against talking about salary. Our culture used to make it so easy not to think about this that I wouldn’t question anyone for saying they hadn’t done so.
posted by adamsc at 9:31 AM on July 5 [6 favorites]


The Reply All episode from a couple weeks ago dived DEEP into white people learning about race, from the perspective of a Black reporter. It is an inherently cringey, kinda terrible space. I'm happy that people are starting to learn SOMETHING, though, and I'm also happy when white people take on the work of education, instead of relying on people of color to shoulder BOTH the ongoing burdens of living in a racist society and the guiding each and every snowflake of a white person on their own personal journey. (I mean, just numerically that's a tall order... there's about 4 whites per Black person in the US, after all.)

Honestly, it feels a lot like kids in junior high figuring out how to relate to the opposite sex... It's awkward and awful for everyone involved, but seemingly a stage people have go through to come out (hopefully) better and more understanding on the other side. Like middle school, there's a wide range of outcomes in people's perspectives at the end, some of which are more harmful than others. I'm happy and hopeful that people are willing to do the work of meeting white people in the awkward phase and guide them towards better outcomes. And, again, like middle school, you're not 'done' thinking about gender at the end - you've just got a little bit more grounding and perhaps a little bit better ability to avoid being a total ass, but the learning goes on basically for life, both on an individual and societal level.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:02 PM on July 5 [8 favorites]


I mean sure, she might not win the "best white ally" contest, but isn't getting it published now better than waiting 5 years until she's further along that road? I prefer the world where major publications are regularly hosting imperfect, cringe-y essays with an anti-racist heart than the silent status quo.

It's 2020. Almost six decades since the Civil Rights Act. Over three decades since Baldwin's death. How long do we really gotta wait?

Are expectations for highly educated white people and American publications on their understanding of race buried so low they may as well be considered root vegetables?

We need to get to the point where even the most head-in-the-sand conservative white folks are bored to tears of this stuff because they've heard it a hundred times already.

The barrier to progress is not white awareness of the crooked game. It is white supremacy and the systemic and transgenerational power it imbues to white people who know exactly the game they're playing and winning.

I'm still reading this piece, but I strongly agree with sallybrown's points so far.
posted by Ouverture at 12:26 PM on July 5 [9 favorites]


without realizing that what I hear as a yell is just how they talk in his family,

I'm mildly irked by the fact that she correctly identifies his loudness as "just how they talk in his family" but then goes and categorizes it as a black thing. Not all black people talk black-sitcom levels of loud at home. My personal take is that white people talk loudly quite a bit as well, but the white people who overhear them are generally familiar with the cultural nuances of white loudness and instinctively discount it as harmless banter most of the time. Whereas when we black people talk loudly, white people, not being able to tell its intent, start getting nervous that violence is going to break out, so they become hypersensitive to it. I'm sure other not-exclusively racial factors come into play, region, status, family size, social network etc.
posted by xigxag at 3:11 PM on July 5 [19 favorites]


I remember reading an article in Good Housekeeping about a woman coming to terms with the fact that her ex-husband was gay and that was okay when I was a kid. That would have been in the early 80s.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 9:20 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


I'm mildly irked by the fact that she correctly identifies his loudness as "just how they talk in his family" but then goes and categorizes it as a black thing.

Hm, I actually read it as something more like "he has a problem being heard in life, so he needs to speak louder." My interpretation, I guess. I'm sensitive to Yelling Families myself so this stood out to me.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:34 PM on July 5


White privilege is the privilege of being shielded from the fact that the world is always and everywhere terribly unfair. This protection is afforded by a racially biased system of enforcement (ultimately backed by violence) which works so that on average, white people experience a bit more fairness in the world, at the expense of others, for whom things on the whole turn out even less fair than they already were.

So it's always a little exasperating when a white person announces that they have discovered that the world is not as fair as they thought. After all, white supremacy is precisely the idea that white people ought to get to live in a world that's more fair -- that 'fairness' is 'theirs', so to speak.

This idea sometimes makes it difficult for white people to imagine a world without white supremacy. It is easy to get trapped in an anti-racist vision of a better world that is essentially just a better version of the world we already occupy, except that in the better world, people treat black people like they treat white people. Everybody is still doing white people stuff, at white people places, with other white people, except now there's also a smattering of black people, who behave like white people, and who everyone treats like white people, so it's all good.

I don't think that's what it looks like to get rid of white privilege. You can't just incorporate everyone into the white supremacist / manifest destiny / white man's burden fairy-tale of human development and call it liberation. Rather, white folks will have to calibrate those expectations of fairness that are predicated on the notion that white people are somehow special or exempted, which means accepting that their world will become a little less fair, at least as perceived. Or, "equality feels like oppression to the privileged."

But until white women like myself do the work to examine our role in this racist system, and to repair the collateral damage we have caused, Black people in this country will never truly be liberated

That may be true and I appreciate the sentiment, but I do wonder whether the author considered how weird and condescending it is to say that, without the work of white women, there is no hope for the liberation of black people.
posted by dmh at 10:50 AM on July 6 [5 favorites]


« Older Escalating Plunder   |   What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments