Cognitive Dissonance

"Democracy! Bah! When I hear that I reach for my feather boa!" - Allen Ginsberg

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On Uncle Tom and White Privilege

Rebloggable by request:

 Anonymous:

Your white. Your uncle tomming your own race.

Meg at Cognitive Dissonance:

Holy shit! I’m white?! </sarcasm>

image

Damn, anon. I’m guessing you’re either trolling or willfully ignorant. Just in case you’re willfully ignorant… let’s roll. 

First, I don’t think Uncle Tom means what you think it means. Or, to rephrase, what it originally meant is much different than what you intended. From The New York Times, “Rescuing the Real Uncle Tom,” June 13, 2011:

And yet, driven by a passionate hatred of slavery, [Harriet Beecher Stowe] found time to write “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” which became the most influential novel in American history and a catalyst for radical change both at home and abroad.

Today, of course, the book has a decidedly different reputation, thanks to the popular image of its titular character, Uncle Tom — whose name has become a byword for a spineless sellout, a black man who betrays his race. And we tend to think of the novel itself as an old-fashioned, rather lachrymose affair that features the deaths of an obsequious enslaved black man and his blond, angelic child-friend, Little Eva.

But this view is egregiously inaccurate: the original Uncle Tom was physically strong and morally courageous, an inspiration for blacks and other oppressed people worldwide. In other words, Uncle Tom was anything but an “Uncle Tom.”

At the heart of the book’s progressive appeal was the character of Uncle Tom himself: a muscular, dignified man in his 40s who is notable precisely because he does not betray his race; one reason he passes up a chance to escape from his plantation is that he doesn’t want to put his fellow slaves in danger. And he is finally killed because he refuses to tell his master where two runaway slaves are hiding.

The old fool who became Uncle Tom arose in the stage versions of the book, leading to the term becoming synonymous with a black man who sells out his own race, or, to a lesser extent, a person belonging to a minority group who participates in the oppression of said group.

You following?

I believe you were looking for the term “race traitor,” which is a favorite of Stormfront. *Warning* If you click the Stormfront hyperlinks, they WILL take you to Stormfront, which defines itself as “a community of White Nationalists. There are thousands of organizations promoting the interests, values and heritage of non-Whites. We promote ours.” If you don’t want to read some seriously racist, xenophobic, white-supremacist shit, DO NOT CLICK THOSE TWO LINKS. They’re linked for sourcing purposes.

Back to our discussion.

Now, white people are not oppressed. Sorry if this is a news flash, but it just isn’t so. White folks enjoy a thing called “white privilege” and it’s ever-present. So what the hell is white privilege? From The Persistence of White Privilege by Stephanie Wildman:

The core meaning of privilege encompasses both the individual beneficiary and the systemic nature of the benefit. While privilege serves the individual holder, it is the systemic nature of privilege, [Peggy] McIntosh’s “invisible knapsack” multiplied throughout the group of white people, that supplies its societal force.

Characteristics of the privileged group define the societal norm. From “flesh-colored” bandages or crayons and “nude” hosiery that depict fair skin to standardized testing, individual members of society are judged against characteristics held by the privileged.

Furthermore, privileged group members can rely on this privilege to avoid objecting to oppression or subordination. Those with privilege can afford to look away from mistreatment that does not affect them personally. The conflation of privilege with the societal norm and this option to ignore oppression contribute to the invisibility of that privilege both to its holder and to society.

For more, here’s Peggy McIntosh’s list of 50 daily “benefits” of white privilege. Also, please see Robert Jensen’s essay, “White Privilege Shapes the U.S.”

If this seems detestable to you, anon, I suggest you click the Stormfront links and sign up. As such, I am not betraying anyone by giving a fuck about injustice in the U.S. and abroad, whether that injustice is based upon race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc… In fact, I would argue that by not giving a fuck, you are betraying your own humanity.

But what do I know? I’m apparently just an Uncle Tom.

Cheers,

Meg

Filed under reply robcayman race privilege white privilege politics anon rebloggable by request ask box racism Uncle Tom

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  3. psychslinger reblogged this from cognitivedissonance and added:
    Learn
  4. silas216 reblogged this from cognitivedissonance
  5. kkuryla reblogged this from cognitivedissonance and added:
    Here’s something to read for all those “poor white folk”.
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  9. plainmarybennet said: you are the best!
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  11. ofstarsandlullabies said: Damn girl you tell that stupid ass anon!
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  13. babykrogan reblogged this from cognitivedissonance and added:
    I love white people who can openly discuss these things. Meg, you kick serious ass. I can’t imagine how awesome you are...
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