Listening is the Root of Justice

Jamie Utt reflects on listening, privilege, and Twitter conversations

Talking about identity, power, privilege, and oppression are hard enough when we have unlimited characters in which to conduct the discussion.  In turn, why so many (including myself) decide to have these tough conversations over Twitter is beyond me, but it happens.  Recently a highly-publicized conversation took place on Twitter between The Good Men Project founder Tom Matlack and some feminist and anti-racist women and men concerning the language and perspectives Tom had taken in some pieces here on GMP.

The majority of the conversation related to feminism, male privilege, and the concept of being a male ally, and the conversation inspired such controversy, that much publishing has been done in its wake (see here, here, here, and here as a place to start). However, a small strain of the conversation related to a comparison Tom made between black men being overrepresented in prisons and a piece Hugo Schwyzer published explaining why it’s understandable for men to be “guilty until proven innocent” when it comes to rape.

Race scholar Sarah Jackson took issue with his comparison and tried to engage in a discussion with him about why the analogy is problematic.

If there’s anything we White folks are good at, it’s getting defensive when we think we’re being called racist, and we’re especially good at getting defensive when we’re told that we may, in fact, be benefitting from White Privilege.

In reading through the Twitter conversation, I had to stop here for a minute because this hit a little too close to home.  In my attempts to become an ally to Women, People of Color, LGBTQ folks, and other traditionally-marginalized identities, I’ve definitely messed up – A Lot.  One of the hardest things for me in attempting to build ally relationships, then, has been to hear that I’ve messed up and not simply get defensive and retreat into my privilege.

A professor of Color in college once told me, “The best thing you can learn to do if you want to be an ally is realize that you’re going to fuck up, and you’re going to do it a lot, so you will need to learn to apologize with honesty and a true desire to change.  Then don’t get hung up . . . move forward and do better.”

At this point in the Twitter conversation, that’s what I was hoping to hear from a man I greatly respect, but instead, Tom dug in:

From there, the conversation about race in the Twitter feed mostly stops, but the conversation about feminism and male allies has continued for quite some time in many mediums and contexts.

What I haven’t seen addressed widely, though, is the ways that Whiteness and privilege clouded what should have been an otherwise cut and dry issue. It could have ended like this:

Sarah: “That language is hurtful and spurious.”
Tom: “Wow . . . I can see where you’re coming from, and I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to make such a problematic comparison.  Consider it recanted.”

♦◊♦

Now, let me be clear.  I am not writing this piece to further attack Tom Matlack.  Instead, I see this conversation as an incredible growth point for talking about listening and privilege.

In A Language Older Than Words, Derrick Jensen discusses the dominant culture of destruction that allows genocide, starvation, rape, and so many more atrocities by saying, “Silencing is central to the workings of our culture. The staunch refusal to hear the voices of those we exploit is crucial to our domination of them.”

I was raised into a culture where I benefit from a great many privileges.  I am Cis-Male, White, Straight, and Able-Bodied, and I come from a family of wealth privilege.  In the words of Louis CK, “How many advantages can one person have!?”  With those advantages comes a little voice that tells me that I am always right, that I am above reproach, that I have power and deserve power.

As such, I’ve done a lot of silencing in my life, but most of it wasn’t active.  I haven’t necessarily talked over someone or shouted someone down.  Instead, I’ve resorted to one of my most powerful weapons as a person of privilege: my refusal to listen.

As White folks, we’re taught that we shouldn’t listen to voices of Color.  After all, if we did, we wouldn’t need study after study to prove that racism is real and that we don’t live in a “post-racial” society.  We would simply be able to hear it in the stories and voices of those of Color that must live in our very-racialized society every single day.

In his piece resigning from The Good Men Project, Hugo Schwyzer put it this way, “Power conceals itself from those who possess it. And the corollary is that privilege is revealed more clearly to those who don’t have it.”  As a person of privilege, I know that I cannot see all of the ways that my identity silences other voices, and I cannot see the ways that my privilege works to empower me while disempowering others.

Thus, when criticized for my language, the space I am taking up, or for the ways in which my actions reveal my privilege, my first response needs to be to listen.  No matter how defensive that statement makes me, I need to listen.  No matter how much I would like to retort with a story about how I’m not as privileged as the other is assuming, I need to listen.

Listening is the root of justice.

 ♦◊♦

It is notable in his conversation with Sarah that Tom was never called a racist. Sarah points out something very important (excuse my translation from character-saving-speak): “It is possible for people not to be racist and still be capable of saying less-than-accurate/sensitive things regarding race.”

I don’t know Tom’s character, so I can’t say whether or not he, in the core of his being, is a racist, but I don’t think that matters in the conversation. To pull the “BUT I’M NOT A RACIST!!!!!” defense (as we White folks so often do) effectively diverts the conversation from the problematic nature of what was said to a conversation about whether the person who said it believes they are racist, a perhaps interesting but otherwise relatively pointless conversation that the White person should really just be having with themselves.

I love the way that Jay Smooth from Ill Doctrine puts it when he says we need to avoid the “what they are” conversation and, instead, focus on the “what they did” conversation. If what I said was hurtful and spurious (and I agree with Sarah that what Tom said was pretty darn spurious and problematic), “we don’t need to see inside [my] soul to know that [I] should not have said all that.”

Rather than finding it “demeaning” when folks of Color (or other White folks) try to tell me how my comments or actions made them feel or may have been problematic, I need to realize that this is an incredible opportunity to listen and self reflect.

In the end, though, we have to realize that listening is only the beginning.  It is the beginning of a life-long process of critical self-reflection, reflection regarding our thoughts, actions, and words.  We must be willing to hold ourselves to the highest standards and ask ourselves, “Do my actions align with my anti-racist values?”  If not, we need to work to change. Perhaps my greatest privilege as a White person is my ability to walk through this life and never self reflect and never listen. But I must choose to listen and to follow those truths to their ends, even if those ends mean I must change the way I live.

After all, the worst thing that can happen is that I can learn that there is work to be done and, in the words of my professor, “apologize with honesty and a true desire to change, move forward, and do better.”

Maybe one place I can start is to read up on the two pieces Sarah linked Tom to in their conversation:

“Why I Don’t Want to Talk About Race” by Steve Locke

“Why I Want to Talk About Race, and Why You Should, Too” by Sarah J. Jackson

Read Tom Matlack’s point of view around these same events here:

Why I DO Want to Talk About Race

 


photo by cameronperkins / flickr

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About Jamie Utt

Jamie Utt is a diversity and inclusion consultant and sexual violence prevention educator based in Minneapolis, MN. He lives with his loving partner and his funtastic dog, Chloe. He blogs weekly at Change From Within. Learn more about his work at JamieUtt.com.

Comments

  1. Being a POC does not make you infallible. The analogy is spurious…why? Because blacks do not actually commit more crimes than whites? OK, quite possible. I haven’t examined the data. But the *perception* is certainly that blacks commit more crimes (per capita), so a white person who isn’t highly educated would be just as epistemically justified in fearing a strange black person as a woman fearing a strange man.

    Further, plenty of men are continuously structurally disenfranchised — poor men, men of color, gay men, etc. This dismissal of the most dismissible part of someone’s identity is obnoxious and damages the credibility of identity politics. So, for example, Dan Savage is dismissed because he’s a white man. In this case, Tom Matlack is dismissed for being a straight white man. That he grew up in poverty is irrelevant (evidently), though that should give him a hell of a lot of disadvantages. I’ve seen straight white feminists dismissed for being straight and white. Blah blah blah. I get that we all have lived experiences that others don’t, but this attempt to shut down debate by pulling a racial or experiential trump card — unless accompanied by reason — is simply nonsense.

    My semi-unique experience is the military. So I do my best to explain to people who lack experience the possible reasons for an objectionable military tactic or practice (e.g. hazing, female exclusion, etc.). I don’t just say, “Oh, you’re not military, you’ll never understand.” I tell them why what I have to say is relevant, and then — if necessary — explain that having an insider’s perspective makes it a little easier for me to understand certain things. This is how human experience works. Being marginalized isn’t some ancient mystery religion where none of the rest of us can possibly understand the Truth. We can understand what you’re talking about if you explain it and, on the flip side, you insisting that something is true does not make it so. The perspective of the powerless is no inherently truer than the perspective of the powerful.

    So if, for example, Sarah had said, “Tom, your analogy fails because of X, Y, and Z reasons,” I might have believed her. But she tried to front-load the privilege argument instead of pointing out *what* Tom was missing, and then explaining how privilege might have caused him to miss it. That’s why I have such a problem with reflexive “privilege” criticisms.

  2. DavidByron says:

    I find this Uriah Heap approach to privilege very troubling. It is better to have self respect I think. That would be impossible if the advice here were taken seriously. Any white person must always change their opinion to match any black person? It is very fortunate that all black people have identical positions or white people would be forever running around changing their opinion to match whichever black person last told them they were wrong. Imagine if some black person disagreed with Sarah Jackson. How would a white person know what to believe?

    No. Put an end to this nonsense. Have some integrity and think for yourself. Consider your principles first and don’t be an “ally” to anyone. Being an “ally” is a call to consider loyalty superior to reason. It is irrational. It is allowing someone else to be responsible for your own ethics. Being an “ally” is also anti-equality as it says someone’s opinion should be judged as valid or invalid according to their race or other qualities of their birth.

    I need to realize that this is an incredible opportunity to listen and self reflect.

    Yes getting alternative view points is valuable, but were you really listening? You didn’t seem to hear the black people who disagreed with Sarah and agreed with Tom. You didn’t seem to hear Tom either. Or then again perhaps you did hear them but rejected their opinion. Perhaps in the end you agree with me that it is best to make up your own mind. In that case you are simply using Sarah’s comments as a crutch to bolster a pre-existing view.

    I do see silencing going on here but it was Sarah who tried to silence Tom by using the race card. What I mean by that is that she attempted to shut him down by claiming that she spoke for all black people and that Tom was being racist. In so doing she demonstrated her own “privilege” over Tom. So here we have a very specific instance of a privileged person deliberately pulling rank to silence someone else and you completely reversed that.

    Out of you and me clearly one of us is very bad indeed at observing what actual privilege and actual silencing is.

  3. DavidByron – the analogy was spurious, though, that’s the problem. Well, the problem was actually Tom’s defensiveness. If Tom were to respond defending the substantiveness of his argument, that would be one thing, but he instead tried to defend his credibility because of his impoverished youth. This is 1) a logical fallacy of the ‘argument from authority’ type, but also 2) he denied his own white privilege, which is pretty much verboten in this kind of argument. Tom was attempting to silence Sarah by using his lack of privilege. Sarah didn’t accuse him of being a racist and even tried to reach out to him by saying that she knew he was better than that.

    For what it’s worth, I still like Tom and think he’s a cool guy, I just don’t think this was one of his best moments, and I hope that we, as a community, can all learn about it.

    • Why was the analogy spurious? The only argument I could discern was that it was “insensitive” to refer to POC oppressing others in a way reminiscent of men oppressing women. That doesn’t make the analogy false or irrelevant; it’s just an attempt to ban certain subjects as too sacred for discussion.

      Maybe I misunderstood Tom, but I took what he was saying not as a denial of white privilege but, rather, as a denial that reducing his story and relevant experience to his white privilege is fair or helpful or just. Sarah seems to be saying that because he’s a (white?) man he just can’t possibly get it. Well, that’s nonsense.

      Telling someone to check their privilege is not much different from a soft accusation of prejudice.

      • The analogy might be politically incorrect but it is in no way spurious.Tom was not tying to silence anybody rather it was Sarah Jackson who seems to be trying to silence him. She assumes that being born White male gives a person great privileges. It reminds me of following lines that I read somewhere.

        First they called me poor,
        then they called me less fortunate,
        then they called me disadvantaged,
        then they called me deprives,
        I still do not get any money,
        But now I have rich vocabulary.

        This privilege hysteria is really getting out of hand. Sarah Jackson uses the term people of color when she is trying to deflect attention from high level of delinquency among African Americans. It seems that they do not have any personal responsibility for improving their lot. Just provide them with those imaginary privileges that Whites have and everything would be alright. BTW I am also non-White (not African American), I hope that protects me from the accusation of being racist.

      • “Telling someone to check their privilege is not much different from a soft accusation of prejudice.”

        Amen!

        … but some are apparently not aware of how they use such “soft accusations of prejudice” in so many diverse ways, from a privileged position! P^)

        If you take the trouble to point it out, you are met with closed ears and minds.

  4. DavidByron says:

    Power conceals itself from those who possess it. And the corollary is that privilege is revealed more clearly to those who don’t have it

    I question this saying. Thinking about the lives of the very wealthy I think that the reverse might be argued. Average people just don’t comprehend the privileges that wealth brings because they have never experienced it first hand. On the other hand I think people who are very wealthy have a good idea of what their wealth allows them to do. In comparing the very wealth to the average citizen I’d say the power is concealed more from those who don’t have it, even as the power imbalance is great.

    I wonder if it is more a question of which group is more visible to the other. Taking race as an example, in the USA, the great majority of the population are white, so the lives of white people are more visible. But what if we look at a country like South Africa where White people are very much the minority. Does that change the level of awareness for how the other half lives?

    At any rate there should be something to learn on both sides. In as much as the phrase above is used to mean “the privileged need to shut up and listen” it suggests that the underprivileged have nothing to learn.

  5. Julie Gillis says:

    I really appreciated this piece and how you focus on the “listening” part. I love Jay Smooth’s posts, also, and I think he does a great job of focusing on the action rather than the person. It’s often quite hard to admit that we make mistakes, that we have hidden pockets of isms inside us from decades of exposure to whatever it is we’ve been exposed to.

    David, as much as I agree that all parties in any conflict need to listen and observe, one could (and many do) argue that the oppressed group already does a great deal of listening and observing (just to stay safe and in line with the norms of the dominant class) and that the dominant class has the privilege of not having to listen. This is why it feels like a challenge to them when they are asked to listen.

    • DavidByron says:

      And in the context of a feminist chat who is the oppressed minority if not men?

      • Andrew James says:

        “Feminist chat”??? Honestly David, what real power do feminists in a “chat” have over you or Men in general? Let’s compare whatever power that might be to the power that White Males in this country have where it really counts. You’re comparing apples to helicopters.

        • I like the helicopter idea – reminds me of so much of the acrobatics I have seen.

          Only yesterday – a person disagreeing with another person in an online text debate – the immortal words were written ( totally out of context ) “Did you write that because I’m a woman?” – cue pile on!

          I will remember that question of what power do people have when I see the next deliberate de-railing in a text train!

          … and I wonder how it went from ” the oppressed group already does a great deal of listening and observing (just to stay safe and in line with the norms of the dominant class) and that the dominant class has the privilege of not having to listen.” to “And in the context of a feminist chat who is the oppressed minority if not men?” to “Let’s compare whatever power that might be to the power that White Males in this country have where it really counts. You’re comparing apples to helicopters.”

          Rather an interesting way to deal with privilege by dismissal and switching the rail road tracks about!

          Maybe it should have been comparing apples with freight trains? P^)

        • ““Feminist chat”??? Honestly David, what real power do feminists in a “chat” have over you or Men in general? Let’s compare whatever power that might be to the power that White Males in this country have where it really counts. You’re comparing apples to helicopters.”

          Stop generalising about white men. Some white men are powerful most are not. Some white males rape most do not. The idea that feminists don’t have power also removes the argument that they have helped society in the past. How could they when white men are so much more powerful. The idea that you are putting forward is the idea that white men care more about other white men than they do about white women. Its not true. There is still chivilary in play were men are expected to protect women. that violence against women is more important than violence against men. It isn’t simple like you are portraying. Sexism doesn’t work like racism there are no ghettos of women. Treating women like you do as if they are powerless is patronizing.

          • Andrew James says:

            Ieta,

            It’s a shame some of that “chivalry” you mention hasn’t found its way into the courtrooms and into congress where White Men like to tell White (and all) Women what to do with their bodies.

            • Andrew – can you provide some examples that go with your claims?

              Not all readers and participants are in the USA, so it would be useful to have some form of context to grasp your point.

              The way it reads indiactes that a Judge can tell a woman what she may and may not do with her body – and whilst I’m not a constitutional expert – I do have enough knowledge of The American Constitution to know that such conduct would be Unconstitutional – and I’m sure it would have featured comment in even international media.

            • Andrew James says:

              MediaHound,

              With respect, I think this is a fair point to introduce the idea that it is not my job to educate you. There are many, many valuable resources available (more valuable than me in fact) with volumes of information related to Women’s bodies and the U.S. government. I would encourage you to seek those out.

            • Andrew – then I do expect the same courtesy and reciprocal educational conduct when comments are made which really should not be made, because someone has failed to educate themselves in matters which are not US centric.

              I have courteously done that when there has been confusion concerning resources and sources that are not US centric, and even when some have been confused by terms used by none US authors and commentators.

              Potato or Potatoe – is it football or soccer? A Common language that can be quite divisive.

              I have googled and not found anything that makes sense of your assertions, and I do know how to google as a “Meddling Rational Archivist”. All I keep finding is historical references to Eugenics practices that are no longer used – and yet you spoke in the present tense.

              When I consider the present tenses – all references are to abortion. Is that your point?

              Do we need to have here on GMP some form of marker or tag so that posts are made cultural/society specific to only one group – culture – society?

              It’s good to recognise social/cultural privilege and even prejudice and not let it get in the way of open, honest and constructive dialogue. Diversity of knowledge and experience can open many doors and even bring novel solutions to entrenched problems and issues.

              It may have been quicker, more courteous and in the spirit of GMP for you to just provide a single hyper link to a rational source! C’est la Vie!

            • Andrew James says:

              MediaHound,

              Again, with respect, the mention I made of U.S. legislative/judicial policy as pertains to Women’s bodies is readily available online through many reputable sources. Your point about being in the spirit of GMP is well taken but I rebut that by saying it isn’t my responsibility to source readily verifiable fact simply because it is new to you. With respect, I am not your teacher. This is a conversation. I respect that you are not here in the states – but again, this information is readily available online.

            • Julie Gillis says:

              And he’s saying in good faith that he’s been looking. Is there harm in providing a link to start with?

            • If you are unable or unwilling to provide evidence to back up your assertions why on earth do you think you can convince anyone of anything?

            • i am not american ….
              also you can counter that claim by saying circumcision is still allowed and female circumcision isn’t. So a male child doesn’t get to chose if his genitals are cut but a woman does. Which one says more about doing what you want with your own body. And the idea that feminists agree about what a woman can and can’t do a perfectly rational doesn’t work. Notice the different views on sex work for instance. There is also the small issue of conscription that is in america male only. Does that signify that women or men have complete control of there own body?

              It doesn’t do any of that. It is complicated your view of white men being in charge is too simplistic for a complex society.

            • I have to say that I have never understood the US attitude to male circumcision. In Europe it’s only used as part of religious observance, permissible by law, or for medical need.

              In Europe there has been the issue of “pharaonic circumcision”, also called female genital mutilation, where girls were taken to the families native origins, generally Sub-Saharan Africa, for this to be done as a coming of age ceremony. It is now illegal for any person to attempt to do this, male of female.

            • “It’s a shame some of that “chivalry” you mention hasn’t found its way into the courtrooms and into congress where White Men like to tell White (and all) Women what to do with their bodies.”

              You mean like women getting lighter sentences for crimes than men?

            • DavidByron says:

              It’s like you have feminist ADD.
              Men in power favour women over men… exactly as “chivalry” would predict.

              You mean like women getting lighter sentences for crimes than men?

              Or not being given a sentence at all, or not being arrested at all, or not being the one offered the chance of a reduced sentence for co-operation, or being given a more lenient form of sentence such as community service and so on and so on.

              And yes I do know all your tricks.

        • DavidByron says:

          I’m not comparing anything but you appear to be trying to run a distraction.

    • I am dying to know if his question was answered properly, on “guilty until proven innocent” and if people assumed the black population were more likely to be a criminal due to stats, ignorance, whatever. To me it looks like people beat around the bush or tried to silence the question completely, but is it acceptable to be prejudiced against what is seen as the oppressor? If so, why?

      • Yes, many identity politics advocates will insist that it is literally impossible to be sexist against men, racist against whites, etc.

        • “identity politics” is like that!

          Once you have your stall set out in the market place, only your product counts. All other products and sellers are to be derided in public. Oddly such activity is generally seen as both unethical and even illegal in most countries.

          I loved being told that I have not been sub subjected to racism fashion when it has in fact been open racism. Being told that it is actually only harassment because it was by someone of racial minority status is quite comical.

          In the UK even The Redoubtable Women’s Institute (WI) of “Calendar Girls” fame had to agree they were being sexists when they refused to let men join. If the WI can do it and sure that others can too!

          A WI nude calendar with man boobs too – the future of charity fund raising!

          “More Tea Vicar” – and now the Vicar is often a she? P^)

    • Julie this argument is fallacious:

      ” one could (and many do) argue that the oppressed group already does a great deal of listening and observing (just to stay safe and in line with the norms of the dominant class) and that the dominant class has the privilege of not having to listen. This is why it feels like a challenge to them when they are asked to listen.”

      The core of the argument is that those “with privilege” somehow are unaware of their privilege. But this goes both ways. The people who belong to so-called “oppressed” groups are likewise unaware of their privilege (scholars like Shelby Steele have written volumes on the privilege inherent in “playing the victim” and other common acts of “the oppressed”).

      Yet this argument suggests that somehow, magically, the “oppressed” group is aware of ALL privilege and only the oppressors are unaware. It is a silly argument and should be called out as such.

      All I see above is Sarah closing her ears and her mind and refusing to acknowledge that she can no more understand the experience of men than Tom can acknowledge the experience of color. She cannot know the analogy is spurious as she does not know what it is to be a man.

      Until Sarah is willing to make such an admission, her hypocrisy will know no bounds.

    • Julie:
      David, as much as I agree that all parties in any conflict need to listen and observe, one could (and many do) argue that the oppressed group already does a great deal of listening and observing (just to stay safe and in line with the norms of the dominant class) and that the dominant class has the privilege of not having to listen. This is why it feels like a challenge to them when they are asked to listen.
      And that argument quickly jumps out the window when this becomes a presumption to the point that those of “the” oppressed group start shutting out anything and everything those of “the” privileged group has to offer under the premise that “we as the oppressed already know because we’ve been listening and observing”. Listening and observing aren’t much good if you’re not listening to/observing the entire story.

      Let’s take working outside the home. When you hear things like “men have the privilege of working outside the home”/”men have the privilege of not being expected to work inside the home” its pretty clear that this is a one sided approach. While it certainly is valid to point out those things what about the flip side of the coin where men are actually expected, nigh demanded, to work outside the home? maybe that man wants to cut back his time at work to be with the family more. Sure there are folks that say they acknowledge this but that acknowledgement seems to get lost in translation.

      Which brings me back to putting the quote marks on “the” above. Privilege and disprivilege (in the realm of gender) are two way streets. Yet time and time again we see people frame it up as a one way street where one side is getting all the pleasures and the other is getting all the pains. Maybe that’s why some folks are so hell bent on trying to make gender look like a one way street. So the other side is made to listen while they talk freely? I mean who wants to hear from someone of “the” dominant class about how is working outside the home to meet the expectations of masculinity which include a wife that expects to be taken care of. (Now I’m sure someone is thinking “but that’s why we empower women to want to do things for themselves”. What a nice way to try to address the issue without actually letting the supposedly dominant one actually speak for himself.) And I think from THERE it seems like members of “the” oppressed group set themselves up to feeling like they are being challenged when asks to listen (or would that be defensive).

      • Julie Gillis says:

        I responded to Jamie’s comment about privilege. I think anyone in a conflict needs to have the skills to stop and listen, paraphrase, ask clarifying questions. Sit, think, decide what parts are projection, what parts are true. Adjust, keep listening and so forth and so on.
        Twitter ain’t gonna cut that.
        I do think that men need to be listened to, I do. I am here aren’t I? Writing, commenting, contributing editing. All out of my own time. Because I want to understand more.
        I do think though that the experience of being white can be as Jamie said, “the privilege of hearing our voices reflected back to us in just about every possible context. Thus, Sarah has listened to Tom’s perspective countless times.”

        One rule I am trying to live by right now, given that my experience with many of the gender issues discussed here is quite different is this..

        “I believe you. I don’t recognize your experience but I believe you. Will you explain more and tell me more and help me find ways of understanding your experience so that I might be a better ally to you. In return, I’ll do the same for you if you promise to believe me and ask me questions.”

        What I did not see in those tweets was that. And I’m not sure Twitter’s programming even allows for it ;) More page views from more conflict yes?

        • I agree with most of what you say here. There needs to be a willingness to listen on ALL sides here. No one should be allowed to just shut others out by acting like they’ve listened to and observed their perspective enough already.

          I do think that men need to be listened to, I do. I am here aren’t I? Writing, commenting, contributing editing.
          Oh I sense such good faith on your part but unfortunately I’ve seen enough around here to know not to extend that faith to everyone here, even if they claim to be here to listen to men’s experiences. Especially when some folks take it upon themselves to basically go “LA LA LA!” when men are talking and then respond by calling them childish and defensive.

          And I’m not sure Twitter’s programming even allows for it More page views from more conflict yes?
          Unfortunetly social media has picked up that dark lesson. Like tv, radio, sports, the news, and even pro wrestling social media has learned that conflict breeds ratings.

  6. Right now it seems like a challange for feminists to drop their ‘privilege’ bullshit.

  7. Does anyone here not get how stupid the term ‘people/persons of color’ sounds? Its just another way of saying colored or colored folk.

  8. I find this Ongoing Dissection of Twitter Gate fascinating – and how it always comes back to TOM apparently not having twitted a correct response to others.

    I keep wondering why not one of the Twits thought to use this format?

    “@ TMatlack your last GMP post is of #Concern. You OK Dude? ”

    Now that is a Twit that fits within the 140 character format and even has a clear message.

    It even can be seen as social or even courteous before ASSUMING you have the green light to roll out a whole personal and even professional agenda via Twitter.

    So Why was that not used?
    Why the Piling On?
    Why the intense feelings from so many?
    Why the ongoing dissection?

    If people wish to Dissect Twittergate and seek answers and explanations, why is it always to seek Fault in Ton and GMP, and the lack of appropriate use of The Twitter Medium by so many others just never gets questioned!

    Some really need to be careful – it’s not just Privilege that is showing but on going Agendas!

  9. Wirbelwind says:

    ” I am Cis-Male, White, Straight, and Able-Bodied, and I come from a family of wealth privilege”- is this some sort of political correct mea culpa ? I always thought that personal preferences concerning, for example, sex, were a private matter.
    Pardon me for not self-flagellating for being white. Besides, wealth is usually an outcome of wise decisions made by yourself and your ancestors- something to be proud of, not of shame and guilt.
    As for the term “people of color”- for me, it is highly offensive. It implies that there are whites and virtually everybody else on the other side- Asians, Africans etc. , that are connected by only one common thing- they are not white.
    And please, the next time I hear anything about white or male privilege, I will go crazy.

    • Andrew James says:

      Wirbelwind,

      “…wealth is usually an outcome of wise decisions made by yourself and your ancestors…” I’d like to focus first on this because I see it as a fascinating window into your thought process. You express wealth as success rather than expressing the interconnected nature of wealth and those that have worked (often in oppressive circumstances) in order to amass that wealth for others. For every iPhone there’s a worker mercilessly toiling away for rare earth metals; every diamond some blood. Take any symbol or institution of wealth and you’ll find a similar relationship between wealth and oppression. That is the nature of this particular blend of global capitalist consumption we live under.

      Historically, one example that falls outside of your “usually an outcome” statement would be when an entire race of human beings was created to work as slaves while their owners collected the profits for a century or three. Were the slave masters simply wiser decision makers than the Africans they enslaved? Another example is the systematic extermination of nearly every indigenous American tribe as a key element of the theft of anything of value they possessed; particularly their ancestral land. Were the European colonizers simply wiser decision makers than the indigenous peoples they massacred? I use these examples not to inflame but because they not only illuminate the tremendous weight of your seemingly tiny qualifier “usually,” but also speak directly to the discussion at hand.

      I think some of what I’m challenging in your comments is the same basic challenge I have to many of the comments in general on this site. The issues we’re discussing here are macro in nature and yet many of the commenters (in my opinion) are attempting to examine these issues under a microscope. Anecdotal stories can be profound and incredibly relatable but are largely irrelevant when discussing issues of systemic oppression and privilege.

      This kind of anecdotal conversation is a cognitive shortcut to manage complex information by typifying it down to its supposed elemental state. The problem inherent in this sort of typification is that there is no elemental state, these issues aren’t simple and to force them to be is to rob them of their necessary nuance and significance. One example of how we do that: when we talk about White people in this country we talk about how this person is Irish-American, that person is German-American, and we have unique holidays and cultural events tied in to that heritage. That is wonderful and nuanced. However, when we talk about Black people in this country the conversation abruptly coalesces around a perceived homogeneous group. We are able to see (and celebrate) shades of White in this country but Black is taught and talked about as just being Black. We continue to be experts in Whiteness and all things European but know nothing and care nothing for Africa which, by the way, is a continent with 56 individual countries (in case anyone asks).

      Similarly, when Sarah draws criticism for speaking on behalf of all Black people this criticism instead reveals the flawed belief of Black as homogeneous rather than the more nuanced truth: as an academic, with a PhD in the field, Sarah is an expert on mediated discourses of race and (IMO) was attempting to make Tom aware that his words were not in line with the ally she knew him to be. Never in my reading of her tweets did I feel she was attempting to speak on behalf of Black folks.

      Wirbelwind , you explain that the term “persons of color” is offensive to you. You feel it means to create two false groups of White and not-White. This is an interesting observation coming from a White person. I’m still thinking about what it means. Interestingly, one recurring issue in discussing race or gender in this country is that when a person of color or woman is the speaker he/she is often discredited as being biased on the subject. Um, we’re all a race and we’re all a gender. Again, this speaks to the continued invisibility of White Male European-ness and of the propensity toward “othering”. In terms of continuing to talk about privilege: I guess you’re going to have to go crazy. As you can hopefully see by now privilege is everywhere in our society and also well documented in our libraries. The Library of Congress isn’t large enough to hold all of the information documenting the existence and power of privilege carefully collected and reported on for generations by countless persons of many backgrounds. Your decision not to walk into the library doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

      • Andrew,

        Your concept of “wealth” does not match reality for three distinct reasons.

        First, you do not seem to appreciate that commerce is the voluntary exchange of work-product for work-product. So while you see “toil” in the production of an iPhone, you do not admit that the person who has the money to buy the iPhone ALSO “toiled” in order to get said money in the first place. I do not wish to put words in your mouth, so I will not speculate on why you have this misconception, but there it is.

        Second, you seem to be mistakenly equating American Slavery to current economic practices. Paul Krugman wrote a great article about this misconception back in the 1990s during the “Nike Sweatshop Crisis.” Basically, it suggests a failure to understand the actual situation and living conditions of the people in countries in Asia. As Krugman pointed out, prior to the establishment of so-called “sweatshops” the primary means of sustenance for a great number of people in the Philippines was raiding garbage dumps. No one needed to be “forced” into the factories because the choice between steady employment and raiding garbage dumps lead to a pretty obvious outcome. By pretending that this even remotely compares to American Slavery, you are both belittling the actual experience of forced servitude, and showing a potential ignorance of the reality of living in extreme poverty in an undeveloped country.

        Third, there is a misconception on your part that the vast majority of commerce is actually mutually beneficial. When I buy a t-shirt for $10, it means I want the t-shirt more than I want the $10, and the store wants my $10 more than they want to keep the t-shirt. Labor is little different. I work a job because I want an income for my skills, rather than handing out my services for free. My employer wants to benefit from my work product more than they want to hang onto their cash. The end result is a mutually beneficial relationship: we are BOTH better off. Until you can conceive of wealth generation as a non-zero-sum activity, you are going to be at a loss to understand a great deal of human behavior.

        As a final note: the problem with “Person of Color” is that it imputes a shared experience (being non-white) that stretches the boundaries of reality. Someone of East Asian descent, born in Northern California, educated at Stanford, and employed by Goldman Sachs, has virtually nothing in common with an unemployed African American resident of Harlem who never attended college. The gap in “privilege” between the two cannot be overstated. Yet the term “person of color” whitewashes this obvious gap in favor of a “white privilege” which is magically overriding. Such an overreach cannot possibly produce meaningful scholarship, and is unhelpful in expanding anyone’s understanding of the situation.

  10. tom matlack says:

    Thanks for this Jamie. The whole interaction had really troubled me. In the midst of such difficult interactions on several fronts it took me time to process why. It also took taking to friends I trust on these issues. And writing some stuff that frankly wouldn’t have been helpful. Where I landed after all that is here:
    http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/why-i-do-want-to-talk-about-race/

    I don’t expect that to answer all your concerns or Sarah’s. But it is my attempt to bridge the gap in a constructive way and have a civil conversation about what upset you so much about my response.

    • Tom!

      I loved reading your piece, and thank you for posting it. While you are right that it doesn’t answer all of my concerns, I very much appreciate your willingness to confront these tough issues. Thank you for your courage and your honesty.

      Jamie

  11. The irony is that Matlack’s tweet was a criticism of feminist language and feminists’ failure to listen to him. Imagine what would have occurred if feminists considered how accusing all men of being rapists until proven otherwise is a spurious and problematic comment. Imagine if this had happened:

    Tom: “That language is hurtful and spurious.”
    Hugo: “Wow . . . I can see where you’re coming from, and I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make such a problematic comment. Consider it recanted.”

    But that did not happen. No feminist took the incredible opportunity to listen and self reflect on how calling all men rapists hurts men, particularly male rape victims.

    The problem with Sarah’s comment is that she comes across is as if she is accusing Matlack of holding racist views, and her follow-up responses do not help. She basically goaded him until he got defensive and then held that against him. I am sure that Sarah does not see what she did as problematic or wrong, but it was nevertheless antagonistic.

    The thing about “privilege” is that it is a broad theory. Eventually someone will apply to their lives, and if it does not hold true (and for the most part it does not) people will object. That is a polite way of saying that it is insulting to tell someone who had a screwed up life and had to work for what they have that their life was awesome and they had everything handed to them.

    The other problem is that “privilege” is often used as Sarah used it: to shut down valid criticism. Yes, Matlack’s claim was partially incorrect. A more accurate claim is that more black people as per their population commit more violence than white people as per their population. However, the sentiment behind Matlack’s analogy was fair: Schwyzer would not assume all black people are felons because that would be racist.

    One of the best ways to get people to listen to you is by you listening to them. I cannot see how that can happen if people are waiting in the wings to check someone’s “privilege.”

    • “Tom: “That language is hurtful and spurious.”
      Hugo: “Wow . . . I can see where you’re coming from, and I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make such a problematic comment. Consider it recanted.””

      Jacob – if I had seen that I might have been looking for a star in the east and the Second Coming” or even the “Rapture”!

      Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas.
      Donatella Versace

      … and Donatella does know just how conflict changes like fashion.

    • DavidByron says:

      At the very least (even according to their own bizarro logic) they should have said sorry for calling all the non-white, non-hetero, non-abled men rapists.

  12. THIS.

    I, also, have a shit-ton of privilege. Absofrigginlutely. And, as has been made clear on numerous occasions, I can be fantastically naive. Which is fine. I am ok with being naive – because it is only by making my ignorance clear that I can seek to learn.

    One thing I didn’t expect was how much I would learn and come to understand just by becoming a blogger. It’s pretty awesome. That you for this piece, it is spot effing on.

  13. I find this part of your writing the most poignant and wherein I think sums everything up:

    “Silencing is central to the workings of our culture. The staunch refusal to hear the voices of those we exploit is crucial to our domination of them.”

  14. Wirbelwind says:

    Feminists’ arguments why any comparisons between treatment of men and blacks are wrong reminded me of this piece on Feministe: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2010/11/29/why-men-rape/
    In this short piece there is made a gross generalisation based on a bad survey that two thirds of men in South Africa RAPED WOMEN at some point in their lives: when called out on and pointing out the obvious minsandrist title (not even mentioning the contents) feminists accuse of “trolling” or using a banhammer.

  15. Okay I have a serious question.

    In his piece resigning from The Good Men Project, Hugo Schwyzer put it this way, “Power conceals itself from those who possess it. And the corollary is that privilege is revealed more clearly to those who don’t have it.”

    Please explain to me how in the realm of gender this seems to be only held true when talking about men. When talking about how power conceals itself, who has power, and how it affects others in the realm of gender people are so quick to bring this up about men BUT talk about women and all of a sudden we’re supposed to believe that none of this applies?

    I’m saying this as a man that has seen many a feminist use this to try to get men to listen while at the same time declaring that women have no power/privileges/etc….

    How in the face of lived experienced are we supposed to believe that power/privilege/et… is that one sided?

    Thus, when criticized for my language, the space I am taking up, or for the ways in which my actions reveal my privilege, my first response needs to be to listen. No matter how defensive that statement makes me, I need to listen. No matter how much I would like to retort with a story about how I’m not as privileged as the other is assuming, I need to listen.

    Listening is the root of justice.
    I’m sure you would agree that this applies to all people right? Not just certain ones. Because as it appears in the realm of gender there is this belief that one side needs to check their privilege and listen to the other while that side is apparently supposed to believe that other side has already seen ever angle, has already accounted for every experience, and identified in their own infalliable language.

    In short people need to practice what they preach.

  16. Josh Friedberg says:

    I really appreciate this piece. Jamie’s points about listening have sometimes become sidelined in these comments, as some with privilege have tried to play the game of “we’re actually oppressed, based on [insert criteria like money, supposedly not being listened to in feminist conversations, etc.] .” Privilege–which does overlap with oppression, of course, so that no one is exclusively privileged OR oppressed–is operating here in ways that Jamie has pointed to: being more likely to listen to privileged voices on a subject like race or gender, rather than the voices of those who really are oppressed by such categories (i.e., non-whites, non-males, etc.), is indicative of how those with privilege, including myself and Jamie and Tom, are often more likely to get defensive about what we say or believe because we don’t view “attacks” as opportunities to learn. That is to say, these comments are proving Jamie’s points all the more.

    Thanks for this post, and it’s heartening to see Tom Matlack’s response in the comments, critically reflecting on what he can do differently. We in positions of privilege should all be so lucky to have someone point out what we’re doing wrong, not as a kind of “blame game,” but as an opportunity to improve.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Thanks Josh, and Jamie, of course, who started this —

      We are going to do a whole series on “privilege” in the near future, as I think a big part of the problem is that people are interpreting that word in different ways. We are hoping to get a a range of voices on the subject — from female feminists, to male feminists, to MRA’s at both ends of the MRA spectrum. If you or anyone else would like to write on the topic, please email me lisa at goodmenproject dot com.

      • Maybe you should ask Jeremy Stangroom over at talking philosophy. He seems to make a good argument against the ‘check your privilege’ card

        http://blog.talkingphilosophy.com/?p=4010#comments

        • Andrew James says:

          Having now read that piece I find myself wishing Jeremy had invested as much time in actually studying privilege as he did combing through his thesaurus. I’m going to have nightmares later about his rampant over-reliance/misuse of the word “epistemological”. I know I sound cavalier – but to pose as an authority on privilege while clearly demonstrating an alarmingly troubling and blatantly ignorant view of it is a bit too audacious for me to seriously address.

          I suppose I could paste this from Jeremy’s piece just for fun though: “…that people do not necessarily experience what most us would take to be marginalized situations as being problematic (check out, for example, some of the literature on FGM; or ask yourself whether slaves in the ancient world would have accepted the legitimacy of the institution of slavery…”

          You’re absolutely right Jeremy: slaves loved slavery. It was something they would have sold themselves into if they didn’t have the privilege of being born into it. In fact, they were probably happy just to be employed in such uncertain economic times (albeit for free and with the whole “occasional death at the hands of imperious slave masters thing”). Yeah, this is the guy that should contribute to a serious discussion about privilege. I’d rather host Don Imus for Thanksgiving next year. Oh, and for those of you unsure as to what “FGM” stands for, I’m assuming Jeremy is referring to female genital mutilation – but I hope I’m wrong.

          • You clearly don’t agree with his POV. Perhaps you repost your post at talking philosophy and see what Jeremy has to say in his defence.

            I made the suggestion because there is always more than one perspective on any issue.

            • Andrew James says:

              It’s not his POV I disagree with. It’s his being wrong that I disagree with. What Jeremy has written is dangerously devoid of truth, persuasively written, and clearly bigoted. I’m not going to engage with someone so clearly steeped in his own putrid fumes. I will however hold firm to my desire not to see him involved in any meaningful discussion of privilege here or anywhere else.

              I’m noticing a problem here in the comments on this site. People want so very desperately to value the contributions of all who comment. In doing so they take people that write clearly verifiable facts as having written something of equal value to someone that has written something clearly made-up, informed by hate speech, and obviously ignorant. I understand that the community here wants to welcome all comments and I agree: all comments should be welcome. But not all comments are equal.

              If we are to have a serious discussion about privilege I don’t want to hear Jeremy’s morally repugnant idea that if we went back in time to ask a slave if he/she accepted the legitimacy of slavery as an institution they would agree that it was legitimate. I’m sorry. I don’t deserve to hear that crap. If Jeremy wants to travel back in time to talk to a slave maybe he can meet up with my Great Grandfather and see what he thinks about being a slave.

          • “but to pose as an authority on privilege while clearly demonstrating an alarmingly troubling and blatantly ignorant view of it is a bit too audacious for me to seriously address.”

            – Andrew, there are those who read your responses on this cite feel exactly the same way about your views. Thank you for providing such an unthinking and dismissive response that can be applied to your comments in the future.

  17. As I read through these comments, there is a great deal to which I’d like to respond. However, in my limited time, there are two main points that I’d like to make.

    First, in response to those who say that Tom’s analogy is, in fact, not spurious at all, I cannot speak for why Sarah saw the comment as problematic. However, why I see the comment as spurious (at best) lies in its ignorance of power structures. Essentially Tom is comparing the experience of an oppressed minority (black men) and their perception among the dominant majority culture with the experience of members of the dominant majority (men) and how they are perceived by those who are oppressed by the dominant majority (women). Now, this comparison is problematic for two main reasons: A) It is impossible to compare oppression, but B) Tom isn’t even comparing oppression – he’s comparing the ways in which an oppressed class experience that oppression to the way that the dominant class are perceived by those they oppress! It can’t be done!

    Now, in all of this, Sarah was merely asking Tom to consider that if he wants the support of a great many People of Color, he needs to avoid such comparisons, as they are alienating and, in fact, spurious.

    The problem, though, is that Tom’s response was to dig in rather than consider her reasoning. Commenters have noted that there was no discussion of why the comparison was spurious, but to my reading, that’s because of how the defensiveness on the part of the privileged took the conversation in a different direction: toward the lack of acknowledgement of privilege.

    Second, my point is that all people (but particularly those with privilege) need to listen accountably to those across difference. Many of those who take issue with my piece make the argument that I (and perhaps Sarah) refuse to listen to Tom. My point is that Tom’s perspective (and mine, quite frankly) are reflected and heard constantly in the mainstream, dominant culture. As White Men, both Tom and I have the privilege of hearing our voices reflected back to us in just about every possible context. Thus, Sarah has listened to Tom’s perspective countless times.

    God forbid, then, that those of us with privilege take a minute to stop, listen accountably while trying to work through our defensiveness, and consider the ways that the perspective across difference might hold truth and power. This is not to say that with every listening experience, I must then say, “Oh . . . that Black man said it. This is my new truth!” Instead, it is my weighing and seriously considering the counter narrative that I, if I so choose, never have to listen to. As such, I can take that perspective into serious account and attempt to learn and grow.

    One of the greatest evidences of Hugo’s claim that “power conceals itself to those who possess it” is the ways in which the men commenting in this thread seem to be unwilling to consider that their voice is, in fact, the dominant majority and that, in turn, we could learn something by stopping and listening to perspectives of difference.

    Oh, and just to see if I can push Wirbelwind over the edge: White Privilege, White Privilege. Male Privilege, Male Privilege. Yup, they are real.

    • Julie Gillis says:

      And this, “As White Men, both Tom and I have the privilege of hearing our voices reflected back to us in just about every possible context. Thus, Sarah has listened to Tom’s perspective countless times.

      God forbid, then, that those of us with privilege take a minute to stop, listen accountably while trying to work through our defensiveness, and consider the ways that the perspective across difference might hold truth and power. This is not to say that with every listening experience, I must then say, “Oh . . . that Black man said it. This is my new truth!” Instead, it is my weighing and seriously considering the counter narrative that I, if I so choose, never have to listen to. As such, I can take that perspective into serious account and attempt to learn and grow.

      One of the greatest evidences of Hugo’s claim that “power conceals itself to those who possess it” is the ways in which the men commenting in this thread seem to be unwilling to consider that their voice is, in fact, the dominant majority and that, in turn, we could learn something by stopping and listening to perspectives of difference.”

      Is a great example of what privilege means. To have your experience reflected back to you so much that you don’t expect anything else. And I do think that women have this experience too mind you, but I just thought this was a very cleanly stating, clear explanation of what privilege can mean.

      • My issue, though, is with the idea that because some white guy said something my voice no longer counts because I’m a white guy and “white voices” are common. Well, there’s nothing inherently different about being white, though of course our stupid society likes to pretend there is. So being told to be quiet because another white guy already had his say is pretty infuriating, as though in No Privilege Land every race gets a single representative at the table to speak for their entire race. That’s just silly. I’m not one to believe I’m entirely a unique and beautiful snowflake, but it’s absurd to expect me to be quiet because some other white guy had something to say. There is no one unifying white perspective any more than there is a unifying black (or gay or female or atheist or whatever) perspective.

        This is the problem with identity politics: it takes broad social truths based on large-scale studies and attempts to define interpersonal dynamics in terms of those broad social truths. It’s sane to examine how those facts impact interpersonal dynamics; it’s foolish, counterproductive, and unethical to attempt to decide how individual relationships ought to work using those facts.

        And, of course, this other problem: identity politics refuses to see relationships in terms other than identity politics. So Tom’s analogy is perfectly logical: Group A is statistically much more likely to be violent than Group B (though still unlikely to be violent), so members of Group B fear members of Group A — because they’re readily identifiable as threats (fairly or not). It’s an injustice faced by members of Group A for identical reasons. That doesn’t mean that white men and black men (or men and women) don’t have additional power dynamics impacting their relationships; it just means that their experiences are overlapping — not mutually exclusive. This idea that people should be treated as individuals is sort of fundamental to the whole notion of racial equality.

        As for “seriously weighing” someone else’s perspective, I agree. But I’ve never been struck by the impression that Tom does not seriously weigh others’ perspectives; in fact, I believe the opposite.

      • DavidByron says:

        Again on that basis your feminist view is the dominant and privileged view.

        It’s almost impossible to get any feminist to listen to anything which contradicts their privileged views. Look around this site and you see that all the time. or any other site that has feminists on it.

        • Julie Gillis says:

          No my privilege as a white person is why I should listen and ask questions. I was born, by dint of fate into a white body in a system that has for a very long time privileged whites. I should also listen and ask questions and listen to the answers of men. I do that.

          I’m aware I have a great deal of privilege. White, straight, able bodied, married, well educated. That’s part of why I’m interested in privilege to begin with. I have benefits that are arbitrary based on my race, class, sexual orientation and I don’t think it’s wrong to examine it, determine how to equalize things That’s part of why I’m here. Not to shut people up, to listen and be heard and learn thinga.

          Our “stupid society” does very much place an emphasis on that essentializing, that race is a real division so much so that we believe it even though there are amazing books like Noel Ignatiev’s HOW THE IRISH BECAME WHITE.

          • I have no problem with looking to equalize things. What I have a problem with is the view that because I’m white, the fact that other white men talk means that what I have to say isn’t valuable or worth hearing.

            Race is a real division, but it doesn’t have to be, and I’m not at all persuaded that people invested in identity politics are effectively ending that division. They just tend to mock the ideal of a color-blind society, as though our society is fated forevermore to privilege certain specific people and not others. I think most of identity politics is an overcorrection.

            • Julie Gillis says:

              Absolutely Rick. I think we all have valuable things to say. That’s not, in fact, what I mean. I did not mean that because one person speaks others do not get to or do not have valuable things to add. It might take more time to write than I have, but that was not my intention.

            • Right, my response was mainly to Jamie, who really seems to be arguing that other white voices render mine irrelevant and unimportant.

          • “No my privilege as a white person”

            You also have a privilege as a leftist feminist which is that your privilege concept is accepted. I HATE IT and don’t accept it. And don’t like hearing it. So maybe my perspective as a non-leftist, non-believer in privilege should be HEARD. I don’t accept the bullshit concept of privilege.

            • Julie Gillis says:

              You don’t have to accept any concept at all. Doesn’t mean that people in the world aren’t utilizing it as a way of understanding the world. There are things posted here I don’t necessarily accept or buy into but I still listen and examine them. And who is telling you that you shouldn’t be heard? I’m listening, for one.

    • Essentially Tom is comparing the experience of an oppressed minority (black men) and their perception among the dominant majority culture with the experience of members of the dominant majority (men) and how they are perceived by those who are oppressed by the dominant majority (women).

      Actually, women outnumber men, so technically men are a minority. More importantly, the comparison was not about who is oppressed, but about the prejudice that one group holds against another. I imagine Matlack used black people for this comparison because most people would understand what he meant. Even if the comparison were as you described, that would not change the validity of Matlack’s point.

      My point is that Tom’s perspective (and mine, quite frankly) are reflected and heard constantly in the mainstream, dominant culture.

      Where in “mainstream, dominant culture” do you see or hear anyone talking about how unfair it is to label all men rapists? That discussion does not happen, and one would be hard-pressed to find any discussion of men’s feelings, experiences, or opinions in “mainstream, dominant culture.”

      One of the greatest evidences of Hugo’s claim that “power conceals itself to those who possess it” is the ways in which the men commenting in this thread seem to be unwilling to consider that their voice is, in fact, the dominant majority and that, in turn, we could learn something by stopping and listening to perspectives of difference.

      That comes across as just a long-winded, rhetoric-filled way of telling men to shut up. On a practical level, that is unhelpful because you are dealing with men who feel that no one listens to them. The worst possible thing you could do is tell them that they do not deserve to be heard because they belong to the wrong group. On a logical level, it is grossly hypocritical to say that “all people [...] need to listen accountably to those across difference” and then refuse to listen to some people you think they already had their collective turn.

      • As to your first point, when I was referring to “majority” and “minority,” I should have been more clear. For someone to be of the dominant majority class, they do not need to be in the numerical majority. For instance, the wealthy are in the vast minority in this country, but they have a grossly-disproportionate voice in media, business, politics – you name it. In much the same way, men may be 49% of the population, but they are in control in business, politics, media – you name it. You’re right – the point is not about who is oppressed, but that is part of what makes it a spurious argument. To compare and ignore the realities of power and oppression is what makes the analogy that Tom used so problematic.

        Second, where in the mainstream don’t you see male perspectives?!? Take film, for instance: “Only 7% of directors, 13% of writers, and 20% of producers are female” (Dr. Stacy Smith, Ph.D. at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism). Take news media where none of the major news networks are owned or helmed by a woman. Take business business where 17 of the top 500 companies are run by men. As to your specific point, when you google “rape accusations,” almost all of the sites are dedicated to the perception that men are disproportionately falsely accused of rape, something which has yet to be proven in any major studies. On the other hand, you can find articles like this one, published in the Wall Street Journal, arguing that, in fact, all men are not rapists (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903596904576516232905230642.html). I could not find a single major publication which argues that all men are rapists (which, notably, Hugo did not argue in his piece; instead, he argued that it is understandable that women often view all men as rapists, and that we are the ones who need to be responsible for changing this reality by changing the reality of sexual violence in our culture).

        Lastly, if my asking all people (but particularly those with privilege) to stop and consider perspectives across difference amounts to nothing more to you than “a long-winded, rhetoric-filled way of telling men to shut up,” then there’s no way we can continue this discussion. I’ll say it again, “God forbid, then, that those of us with privilege take a minute to stop, listen accountably while trying to work through our defensiveness, and consider the ways that the perspective across difference might hold truth and power. This is not to say that with every listening experience, I must then say, “Oh . . . that Black man said it. This is my new truth!” Instead, it is my weighing and seriously considering the counter narrative that I, if I so choose, never have to listen to. As such, I can take that perspective into serious account and attempt to learn and grow.”

        • DavidByron says:

          So you are advocating collective punishment of men here? Because some tiny minority of men have positions of power the other men must shut up? That’s an immoral and irrational position.

          You were asked:
          “Where in “mainstream, dominant culture” do you see or hear anyone talking about how unfair it is to label all men rapists?”

          To your credit you did apparently try to Google some sources and failed. Against your credit you didn’t cop to it. So your position is false. Why can’t you admit that? You stated that Tom’s position was a privileged one that was very commonly heard by people. That is false.

          Do you think it is your own privilege which makes it hard for you to concede this?

        • “Second, where in the mainstream don’t you see male perspectives?!? Take film, for instance: “Only 7% of directors, 13% of writers, and 20% of producers are female” (Dr. Stacy Smith, Ph.D. at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism). Take news media where none of the major news networks are owned or helmed by a woman. Take business business where 17 of the top 500 companies are run by men. As to your specific point, when you google “rape accusations,” almost all of the sites are dedicated to the perception that men are disproportionately falsely accused of rape, something which has yet to be proven in any major studies. On the other hand, you can find articles like this one, published in the Wall Street Journal, arguing that, in fact, all men are not rapists (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903596904576516232905230642.html). I could not find a single major publication which argues that all men are rapists (which, notably, Hugo did not argue in his piece; instead, he argued that it is understandable that women often view all men as rapists, and that we are the ones who need to be responsible for changing this reality by changing the reality of sexual violence in our culture).”

          That was not his question he asked :

          “Where in “mainstream, dominant culture” do you see or hear anyone talking about how unfair it is to label all men rapists? That discussion does not happen, and one would be hard-pressed to find any discussion of men’s feelings, experiences, or opinions in “mainstream, dominant culture.”

          Your answer is to say that men are in media etc etc. that still doesn’t answer the question. Just because more men are in a certain area doesn’t actually mean they only have the view of men or present the views of men with sympathy and ignore the views of women. For instance there many example in media which portray violence against men as tolerable or funny where as violence against women is always treated as serious. If they were only to present the views of men wouldn’t that just not happen?

          “Lastly, if my asking all people (but particularly those with privilege) to stop and consider perspectives across difference amounts to nothing more to you than “a long-winded, rhetoric-filled way of telling men to shut up,” then there’s no way we can continue this discussion. I’ll say it again, “God forbid, then, that those of us with privilege take a minute to stop, listen accountably while trying to work through our defensiveness, and consider the ways that the perspective across difference might hold truth and power. This is not to say that with every listening experience, I must then say, “Oh . . . that Black man said it. This is my new truth!” Instead, it is my weighing and seriously considering the counter narrative that I, if I so choose, never have to listen to. As such, I can take that perspective into serious account and attempt to learn and grow.””

          Okay as long as you accept that both men and women have privileges. The idea of woman being eternal victim is quite patriarchal. Racism doesn’t work like sexism trying to put those different systems as analogous doesn’t work. Also i have to point out quoting Hugo Schwyzer as some kind of authority of anything is hilarious.

        • “which, notably, Hugo did not argue in his piece; instead, he argued that it is understandable that women often view all men as rapists, and that we are the ones who need to be responsible for changing this reality by changing the reality of sexual violence in our culture).””

          Its also understandable for a lot of prejudices. It is still wrong. I am not responsible for the actions of other men and women are not responsible for the actions of other women. All black people are not responsible for the actions of some black people. Holding understandable but irrational prejudices is understandable but still irrational and still wrong. All this is inferring that men do not have understandable reasons to mistrust women, some of us men do have understandable reasons to do this I won’t though because i am not sexist.

        • Jamie, I disagree that Matlack’s analogy was problematic because the purpose of an analogy is not to recognize a particular ideological position, which is what you are talking about, but to simply make a comparison to demonstrate a point. Arguing over “privilege” dodges Matlack’s point that it is wrong to label an entire group based on a few people’s actions.

          Examples of places where men outnumber women do not prove that men’s feelings, emotions, and opinions are “reflected and heard constantly in the mainstream, dominant culture.”  The WSJ article does not argue that all men are not rapists. It objects to “[curtailing] due process rights of the accused.” One would have trouble finding articles that specifically state “all men are rapists,” but finding published articles implying that or that all men are responsible for rape is rather easy.

          Please do not misquote me. I stated that your comment that “one of the greatest evidences of Hugo’s claim [...] is the ways in which the men commenting in this thread seem to be unwilling to consider that their voice is, in fact, the dominant majority…” comes across as telling men to shut up, and I stand by that.

          That said, do you realize the irony and hypocrisy of your response? You said people should “take a minute to stop, listen accountably while trying to work through our defensiveness, and consider the ways that the perspective across difference might hold truth and power,” and yet you not only got defensive, but you also seem unwilling to consider the ways that my perspective as a non-feminist man might hold truth and power.

          If you decide not to talk with me because I criticized your words, that is your rather revealing choice.

    • “My point is that Tom’s perspective (and mine, quite frankly) are reflected and heard constantly in the mainstream, dominant culture. As White Men, both Tom and I have the privilege of hearing our voices reflected back to us in just about every possible context. Thus, Sarah has listened to Tom’s perspective countless times.”

      I feel like screaming. Your perspective is that of a liberal who believes in the concept of privilege. Indeed your leftist, feminist perspective is heard many times. AND I WANT TO HEAR LESS AND LESS OF IT.

  18. Richard Aubrey says:

    We can listen. We can hear those speaking of the experience of being victimized, and decide they have no clue.
    For example. blacks and crime stats. They are what they are. Disproportionately, compared to whites and Asians.
    Since the bulk of the victims are also black, we can be pretty sure the crimes aren’t made up by whites out of whole cloth. So to hear somebody say the whole disproportionate number of blacks in the criminal justice system is due to racism is to hear nonsense. They should speak to the (black) victims about it.
    Perhaps we should consider the role of those who need and pay for an expanding group of dependents in order to buy votes in wholesale lots.
    So, sure, listen. But don’t discount your lying eyes.

    • Andrew James says:

      Richard,

      I just want to go on record as having openly said that what you have written is offensively devoid of truth and value. Your words are exactly the kind of gentle prejudice and silent privilege we as persons of color have to endure day after day. I can’t prove how hurtful and ignorant what you have said is in anything less than 5,000 words which is precisely why what you have said is so dangerous. I also have no interest in giving you that much of my time and energy. However, I will encourage you to look beyond whatever scant sources have brought you to so absurdly vacant a position as you have written here so that you may some day understand the very real, very powerful phenomena you clearly do not yet understand. If not for yourself, do it for the next generation. They deserve to know better.

      • Richard is right. Blacks commit more crimes than whites. PERIOD.

        “Your words are exactly the kind of gentle prejudice and silent privilege we as persons of color have to endure day after day”

        Please speak for yourself. Not all POCs agree with you.

        “However, I will encourage you to look beyond whatever scant sources have brought you to so absurdly vacant a position as you have written here so that you may some day understand the very real, very powerful phenomena you clearly do not yet understand. If not for yourself, do it for the next generation. They deserve to know better.”

        They do indeed deserve to know better than to know what you have written. They deserve to know the truth, not a politically correct lie.

  19. The Bad Man says:

    Unfortunately, any discussion of racial, gender, or class issues is often a one way conversation where the struggles of only one segment of society is focused on. Analogies don’t work well because of the complexity and interaction of the many variants.
    My main critique would be of the use of generalized statistics applied to individuals. Surely a black man growing up in the burbs has a much better start than a white man growing up in the Ghetto. Why is all the focus on Whites, when Asians and Jews do so much better in socioeconomics? I’m not shifting blame, I just don’t think it’s necessary.

  20. Richard Aubrey says:

    Andrew.
    I don’t make up the stats. I don’t commit the crimes. If you have a problem with them, talk to the guys who do commit the crimes, or perhaps you could have a word with those who keep the figures.

    We don’t, or should not, apply generalized statistics to individuals. That’s different from pretending generalized statistics don’t exist.

    • Much like Andrew, I don’t have the energy to lay out how incredibly asinine this train of logic is, but fortunately, others have already done the work. All I have to say is pick up a copy of Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”

      There you will find research that proves such fun facts as White people use and sell drugs at rates equal to or higher than Black people, yet Black youth are 20-50 times as likely to see prison for drug offenses than White youth. You will find that Black men are twice as likely to get the death penalty for killing a White Woman as killing a Black Woman. I could go on and on.

      That’s not an accident. That is overt white supremacy.

      • Andrew James says:

        Jamie,

        You have twice saved me from an exorbitant number of keystrokes, written yet another insightful follow up comment, and also made a heck of a reading recommendation – thanks! I believe the ways in which crime has been racialized on the news is also an important factor in forming perceptions of reality so, as a mass media nerd, I would like to add this important article to the fray: http://images.komunikasipublik.multiply.multiplycontent.com/attachment/0/RiWOkgoKCowAABYWXF41/Victimization%20on%20Local%20Television%20News.pdf?key=komunikasipublik:journal:99&nmid=25195083

        I’m not sure if the moderators allow for links to be embedded in comments. I’m guessing not. In case it doesn’t work Richard, hop over to my Twitter account (@andrewdsjames) as I will have tweeted the link just in case. I sincerely hope you consider reading these or any of the available material that is out there. Not because I’m right and you’re wrong – but because you deserve to have as much information as possible so you can come to an informed conclusion – on your own. That, my friend, is freedom.

      • Wow, now it not just white “privilege”, its white “supremacy”, and an “overt” supremacy at that! I can’t wait to tell those homless white people on the corner how “supremely” good they’ve got it!

      • Jamie, the focus on drug statistics is a purposeful attempt to mislead.

        Look at Victim Data Reports (you know, for crimes where there is an actual victim) and you will find that certain groups (blacks among them) commit massively disproportionate numbers of violent crimes.

        The real kicker is that the victims are ALSO members of those same groups: young black men tend to shoot other young black men. This removes racism from the equation: it’s not about who the police arrest, it’s about who actually did what according to victims of crime. This means that young black men are pointing the finger at other young black men.

        Go ahead and focus on whatever statistics make you feel good about your worldview, but I’ll go ahead and focus on crimes that have victims, and the characteristics those victims report about their attackers.

        • The problem is that you are not disaggregating the data. Violent crime is a problem of poor communities, not Black communities. When you disaggregate to look at poor White communities (or poor Latino communities or poor Asian communities, etc) you find that similar rates of violent crimes exist. Numerous studies (chief among them the work of Ching-Chi Hsieh and M. D. Pugh as published in the Autumn 1993 edition of Criminal Justice Review) prove that there is a causation relationship between poverty and violent crime.

          The problem in your logic, though, is that you ignore the fact that Black people are disproportionately poor, so, according to the studies like Hsieh’s and Pugh’s, they will have disproportionate levels of crime. You seem to be arguing that Black people are more violent, but the reality is that poor people simply commit more violent crime (as a result of extreme economic circumstance).

          The victim reports do not, in fact, remove racism from the equation. All they tell us is that when you disaggregate the data, we have a problem of poverty that breeds violence, and we need to deal with this problem, not simply enact harsher sentences on certain races because we perceive them as being more violent.

      • “Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”

        There are a disproportionate number of black victims of crime. This fact alone is sufficient to demonstrate that blacks commit more crime than whites.

        “There you will find research that proves such fun facts as White people use and sell drugs at rates equal to or higher than Black people, yet Black youth are 20-50 times as likely to see prison for drug offenses than White youth. You will find that Black men are twice as likely to get the death penalty for killing a White Woman as killing a Black Woman. I could go on and on.”

        You are talking about sentencing. That is not what we are talking about. We are talking about who commits the crime. Not how they get sentenced. These are two separate issues.

        • What did you miss about “White people use and sell drugs at rates equal to or higher than Black people…”? Is that not committing crime?

  21. Richard Aubrey says:

    Jamie. Talk to the black victims. Also, see the disproportion in interracial crimes.
    As to the death penalty, you need aggravating circumstances to qualify for capital punishment. That means a crime of sudden rage might not qualify. But to kill a person of another race usually means leaving one’s own surroundings with intent, which may amount to aggravating circumstances.
    In any event, the fact is that the woman in question is dead and the disproportion is obvious.

    • Pick up the book, read it, and then we can talk. Until then, I have no patience for this overtly-racist perspective.

      • Wow Jamie, did you just shut someone down using the word “racism”? Do you usually dismiss opponents with shut down words or do you sometimes remove your fingers from your ears?

      • “Pick up the book, read it, and then we can talk. Until then, I have no patience for this overtly-racist perspective.”

        Ok if you agree to read a book on Quantum Mechanics. What is the use of reading your book if it is about sentencing. It has nothing to do with racial disproportion in the number of crimes committed.

    • Andrew James says:

      Richard,

      As a person born to a Black Father and a White Mother I am suddenly troubled by the point you make. I am poised to leave my surroundings with intent (exactly as you describe) but find myself half in each surrounding. To which do I endeavor to aggravate circumstances?

  22. Richard Aubrey says:

    Andrew.
    If you happen to murder somebody in the process of robbing a convenience store in a white neighborhood while your primary residence is in a black neighborhood, the presumption of intent is stronger than if you got into a fight at a bar in a black neighborhood and knocked a guy down who hit his head and died. Sort of happened in a small town where I used to live. Not much of a fight, a shoving match. One participant died of a heart attack. The prosecution was not for first-degree, and our state doesn’t have the death penalty anyway. I gather that aggravating circs can get you life without parole instead.
    But, as I say, if you have a problem with this, take it up with the folks who answer the NCVS, and the FBI.
    I think you misunderstand “aggravating circumstances”. Killing an old person in your neighborhood playing “knockout king” is one thing. Making plans to go five miles to, say, a mall and attacking a person of another race would be aggravating. In other words, when somebody says, “What in hell were they thinking?” and the answer is, “Doesn’t look like they were thinking at all.”, you probaby have fewer aggravating circumstances than if the answer was…”they spent a week planning it and worked their plan”. Torture in advance of killing–see the Knoxville Horror–is aggravating. Hope that clears things up.

    • Andrew James says:

      Richard,

      I appreciate your elaboration. I think the picture you paint relies too heavily on black and white. I mean to say that it *sounds* prejudiced to say that there are black and white neighborhoods and that when a person leaves one of these imaginatively racialized neighborhoods to travel to another it indicates some sort of intent to commit a violent act. This kind of example reminds me of South African establishment propaganda during apartheid.

      Richard I seriously, and from my heart, beseech you to read from some new and different sources; maybe even the two that Jamie and I suggested. For what it’s worth it sounds like your heart is in the right place maybe you’ve just picked up some bad intel along the way. I don’t mean any disrespect at all by suggesting you read further. I just think your view could use some nuance and, well, more color.

      • Andrew — he’s not attempting to suggest that people who leave unmixed neighborhoods are a threat. He’s saying that crimes of passion — the sort which usually do not receive the death penalty — tend to happen in your own neighborhood because it probably happened in the course of your regular life (fight with your wife, bar fight, etc). If you happen to live in an unmixed neighborhood, this makes it highly likely that this crime of passion will be committed against someone of your own race. If you commit the crime in a separate neighborhood, it’s less likely that you committed it out of passion because you had to go out of your daily routine to commit the crime. Does that clarify it?

        Either way, though, I agree that different enforcement of laws is a travesty. That does *not*, by itself, invalidate statistics indicating higher proportions of black-on-black than white-on-white or white-on-black crimes. Those statistics may be invalid, and I think Richard is challenging you to offer a counterargument. Unfair law enforcement is not, itself, such a counterargument. It is a separate issue.

        But, even then, whether or not blacks actually commit more crimes than whites, society tells us that they do. Just like society tells us that strange men are potential rapists (even though most rapists are not strangers). It’s not a rational response, and expecting men to change vicious criminals before they can reasonably expect to be assumed not-guilty is just as unreasonable as expecting black men to change vicious criminals before they can be assumed not-guilty. Group A is identified — fairly or not — by society as having a greater propensity to violence against Group B. Group B is encouraged by society to fear Group A. Tom is saying that this is unjust. Even if there are other power dynamics which affect Group A and Group B’s interactions, this aspect of the dynamic is unjust. People who are afraid behave irrationally and I’m sympathetic to that, but I still don’t believe it’s right to treat people differently based on one’s own fears.

        The analogy is not spurious. And, for the sake of argument, let’s say the stats referenced are accurate (i.e. strange men are dangerous and so are blacks) — would you say that it’s fair for society to fear black men? Or would you say, as I would, that this is sissy bullshit xenophobic racist bigotry? If so, then why is just to treat men as dangerous who have shown no dangerous tendencies?

  23. Andrew James says:

    Julie – to be fair I understand your point that a first article to point MediaHound in the right direction is a nice idea but, in reality, what that ends up creating is an environment where I’m somehow required to supply an article each time I state something long ago proven as fact. This is inappropriate and a waste of my time. In fact, comments like this from Ieta are exactly why I won’t supply citations for each established fact I present : “If you are unable or unwilling to provide evidence to back up your assertions why on earth do you think you can convince anyone of anything?” That’s the difference here, what I say is not an assertion; it is fact – convince yourself if you must but whether you do or don’t it’s still a fact. It’s not my job to teach MediaHound or Ieta or to re-prove facts long ago proven. I will not rebuild the wheel for the sake of these folks.

    • Julie Gillis says:

      Yes, I have been involved in social justice long enough to know that argument Andrew. I”m not a newbie. In fact I’m an oldbie. And the argument has merit and I’ve used it when threads were being seriously derailed, in this case, your statement was unclear even to me. I assumed you were speaking of abortion and reproductive issues, but it was relatively vague. A legal case? Historical precedent? And refusing to give additional clarifying information…I don’t know, this type of comment is one thing I tend to dislike about social justice. I mean I get it. It isn’t your job to tell everyone about everything. It’s not my job to explain things over and over if people aren’t acting in good faith. But when they are acting in good faith, more connection is better than less. I don’t provide links to people if they are being rude to me, or if it is clear they aren’t doing the work. But if I have an ongoing comment relationship with someone, like Media Hound, who operates in good faith, I don’t see harm in sharing my knowledge with him so long as he does the same for me. If that’s still a boundary for you, which I imagine it will be, my suggestion normally in those matters is to find a way to get off line and start a conversation. There is doing the work, and then there is making connection. In this case, I think the connection would serve a greater purpose. Doesn’t mean it’s the way one has to be each time someone asks, but hey, it’s up to you.

      • Andrew James says:

        Julie

        I defer to your status as an oldbie, appreciate, and agree with what you’ve said. I’m not trying to be caustic. I’m just a human being that doesn’t want to take the time to track down an article that relevantly articulates the issues on behalf of another person. I agree my reference was vague. That was intentional. There have been a host of reproductive rights issues; issues related to contraception, access to adequate health care, shaming, etc for as long as this has been a country. I didn’t pick an article both out of conservation of my own energy and to also not limit the discussion to one narrow channel. I do value connection and agree with the way you’ve characterized how and why these sorts of connections are important. I mean no disrespect to MediaHound and the clear good faith intentions of our discussion; I’m just not interested in providing a reading list.

    • Andrew – you seem to be worried about Teaching Others.

      You have not been asked to do that. You were asked to clarify your point.

      I have also pointed out that there are Cultural and Social differences caused by readers and contributors coming from all over the world. It is not just a USA centric site. When you are making comments that are US centric it is actually rude to assume that they understand your reference. You seem to even acknowledge this, but can’t seem to grasp the evident need for clarity?

      As I said, I believed your response was bad faith, but with each repetition of the same trope it moves towards a supposed rational position expressed as cliché. Steadily and readily trotted out as a self fulfilling prophecy and position.

      I also find it highly amusing that you are writing so much to explain your views as to educing others, when it would have been quicker to just explain your reference and use one of the wonders created by the Sainted Sir Tim Burners Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web Application layer for the Internet) and provide a hyper-link to suitable materials.

      Oh – and I see that you are able to provide hyper-link to suitable materials when you choose to, so that you can presumably act as educator and further debate and discussion?

      I do recall the dialogue we had concerning racial abuse and it’s legal positions and perceptions which do differ markedly between the US and Europe.

      It seems that you did not agree with differences across cultures, and indicated that only one group can be subjected to racism and that it is not possible for Privilege reasons for what some call “inverse racism” to exist. Odd how that differs from culture to culture and country to country.

      Odd too how you are happy to be educated by others when it suits you!

      I do remember you intimating that when I posted on one thread you expressed the view that I was being “Micro-aggresive”, it was a term that you had apparently recently learned. I find it interesting, as I do with all emergent language just how quickly it’s obverse started to be used as in “Inverse Micro- Aggression”

      You seemed unhappy then when I pointed out that what had been written was not clear and I asked for clarification – and I note that was related to US race issues and academia too.

      I am getting the impression that there is a developing or even developed pattern here.

      As they say – there is nowt as queer as folk! P^)

      Eduction is a strange thing – and as someone who has the function of a professional educator, I do love studying practice and language and seeing how it can all be made better!

      All the best. I don’t see what much more can be gained from any further dialogue or discussion, and it would seem that has been your aim for some time! It’s been a Privilege P^)

      Cheers

      • Andrew James says:

        MediaHound,

        I know my inclusion of a hyperlink in another comment seems contradictory. My explanation for that is that is a link and an article I’ve used numerous times as a researcher. It is near, dear, and familiar to me. It took no time to link to it. On the other hand, it would take a fair amount of time to find just the right one article to share with you to further illuminate my point. I guess my point is an entire library of information is but a mere few keystrokes away if the motivation is there. I don’t have the motivation to look for you but perhaps you will have it to look for yourself or share with me links to articles you find as being important. I’d read what you feel is important.

        • Julie Gillis says:

          I guess it would help if you clarified the topic. Abortion and repro rIghts? The irony is you’ve probably wasted more time commenting about commenting then by being specific to begin with. Oh well.

  24. Richard Aubrey says:

    Rick. Thanks for explaining aggravating circumstances and the importance of “intent” as a part of the prosecutor’s choice of charges, and the sentencing.
    Part of society that tells us theses things is the NCVS, which is about victims, from victims, prior to any racist justice system getting involved. And a disproportionate number of the victims are black. And they are not victims of whites, for the most part. Grossly, disproportionately not.
    The question of differential incarceration can’t be answered, nor even discussed, if people are unwilling to discuss differential rates of criminal activity. Or, in fact, if they are going to imply–which they can’t assert–that criminal behavior is the same across races.

  25. I am really surprised that despite living in a free, liberal democracy, people are throwing around words like “privileges” and “oppression.” There is no place for any privilege or oppression in democracy. Everybody has to take responsibility for his own choices and face its consequences. Slavery was abolished in the U.S. on December 6, 1864, about 147 years ago. All discrimination are banned under Civil Rights law. The African American community has to introspect why it has fallen behind other groups and has high rate of incarceration. The use of the term “People of Color” is just a distraction to hide failings of African Americans. Technically, I also belong to the group people of color and claim that my ethnic group outclasses Whites in almost every category. We are called the “model minorities.”

    • “There is no place for any privilege or oppression in democracy. Everybody has to take responsibility for his own choices and face its consequences”

      I believe the argument against that would be that racism/sexism is simply no longer overt but it still manifest itself covertly. At least that is the argument I have heard used. I would still argue that it is just too easy to assume that everything that happens is a result of our actions and none of our circumstances are due to blind luck/being unlucky or racism/sexism.

      • “I would still argue that it is just too easy to assume that everything that happens is a result of our actions and none of our circumstances are due to blind luck/being unlucky or racism/sexism.”

        I do not deny the contribution of luck or hindrances caused by personal prejudices of other people, but the institutionalized discrimination against minority ethic groups do not exist. When cannot always rely on luck to get goodies in life despite all hindrances. One has to take charge of his life and work towards success in life.

        • ” but the institutionalized discrimination against minority ethic groups do not exist.”

          I don’t know whether or not this is true (i.e. whether or not institutionalized racism/sexism exists). It is often asserted that it does exists but the proof I’ve seen given, if any is given at all, has always been underwhelming. I do believe that individual people out there, or heck even groups of people like the KKK, are still racist and sexist but I’m not quite sold on the idea that discrimination against race/sex is “institutionalized” (whatever that means).

          • ” but the institutionalized discrimination against minority ethnic groups do not exist.”

            This statement is not correct. If we take a step back to note that discrimination can be a rational tool, it’s not a great leap of logic to conclude that it can often be used irrationally – by both individuals and institutions.

            • Can you provide some examples of institutionalized discrimination against minority ethnic groups.

            • Hi Rapses – I’ll provide an example that does not depend on a numerical minority:

              The Hutu and Tutsi ethnic conflict in Rwanda that resulted in genocide.

            • Well you seem to be missing the point. We are discussing that there is institutionalized discrimination against ethnic minority communities in the U.S. or not. Where does Hutu and Tutsi ethnic conflict in Rwanda fit in the context.

            • I did not realize the discussion was scoped to the U.S. only. I take it you agree with my example otherwise, right?

              I don’t live in the U.S. – there are residents posting here that are better suited.

              But that’s never stopped me before…..not sure if it has been corrected as of yet, but how about the disparate sentencing for crack versus powder cocaine and how that difference impacts certain groups more than others?

            • The ethnic violence in Rwanda was due to civil war between two ethnic groups for dominance. It is totally different issue from institutionalized discrimination against ethic minority groups in free and democratic country. As for difference is sentencing for crack and powder cocaine, the U.S. congress has declared powder cocaine as Schedule II substance. It can be administered by doctor for legitimate medical uses, like serving as a local anesthetic for some eye, ear, and throat surgeries. Crack cocaine is cheaper and highly addictive with no current medical use.

  26. I am willing to concede to the argument that what Tom said was problematic to get at the meat of what he was trying to say in the twitter conversation. What Tom was getting at is that there is no rational reason why women ought to believe that men are guilty until proven innocent. There is a reason why we have the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” and a very good reason why it is the cornerstone of America’s Justice System. I’m just going to go into a brief anecdote. One day, when I was in college, I was just sitting outside the room where my math class was to be held waiting for the class in the room to leave. I was reading a book, How to Think About Weird Things, which started me on a path that would change my life. As I was sitting there minding my own business a young man a little younger than me walked up to me, asked “How’s it going man”, and sat down next to me. I replied courteously with “It’s going well thank you” and he proceeded to ask me about what I was reading. I told him simply that I was reading a book for a logic class I was taking at the time. He then asked me if there was anything going on in the world that I was worried about to which I replied truthfully that I was worried about some of my friends going off to fight in Iraq, as the Iraq war was just in its infancy at the time. He then said something that immediately gave away what he was trying to do. He told me,” You know there is someone who can help you”. I stood silent knowing that religion was now going to enter into the conversation somehow. He proceeded with asking” Have you ever prayed to God before about your concerns”. I replied politely, “No I haven’t prayed to God or been to church in years”. He asked me why I hadn’t been to church for so long to which I replied “Because I’ve never seen any evidence for God’s existence”. He then asked “Well how do you know he doesn’t exist” to which I replied” That it isn’t up to me to determine it is up to you to prove that God exists if you wish for me to believe you”. He sat silently for a little bit puzzled by what I had just said as though it didn’t fit some script he had in his head of how the conversation should have gone. I broke the silence with a question of my own “Do you believe in Bigfoot” to which he chuckled a bit then said “No”. I responded back with “How do you know Bigfoot doesn’t exist”? He seemed puzzled by the question and didn’t seem to fully comprehend what just happened. He got up to leave and said some parting words to me “Well you know you don’t have to be a genius to accept Jesus but can I at least pray for you”? To this I replied “Yeah”. The point is that the burden of proof lies with those making a claim. If women wish to make the claim, even in their heads, that men are guilty until proven innocent, then it is women’s claim to justify. It is not up to men, just like it wasn’t up to me in the above scenario, to prove that their claim is false. This “Guilty until Proven Innocent” mantra is the stuff of racism and sexism as that is partly what those are based on. Any good man, or woman, or child, or creature for that matter; would do well not to succumb to such sloppy thinking. I don’t mean to imply that a good person has no sloppy thinking as I don’t think it fair to hold any human to a perfect standard. I do say though that the sign of a good person is one who cares about whether or not their beliefs are true and endeavors to change those beliefs which aren’t to comport with reality. Anyone who does walk by a man and thinks “Gee …. He could be a rapist” isn’t necessarily a sexist. However, a person who actively seeks to ignore that fact, the fact that those who say such things have the burden of proof, and doesn’t seek to change their behavior cannot be considered a good person.

  27. Richard Aubrey says:

    I’m a guy. I’m not a rapist. If a woman wants to take precautions because I’m around, I’m good with that. If she didn’t, I’d thinking about telling her she ought to.

  28. The problem starts with Hugo saying “guilty until proven innocent”, which is a bad idea in any context. Much better if he had said “dangerous until proven safe”, which is much more reasonable. By and large, everyone gets to choose what counts as “safe” on pretty much whatever bases suggested by their own judgement, including gender and actually also including race.

    Then Tom picked up the wrong end of it, and it all went downhill.

  29. i agree… we must listen more…

  30. Here is why I believe that blacks do indeed commit a disproportionate number of crimes:

    1. Arrest and victimization surveys
    2. There are a disproportionate number of black victims of crime. This is the most important point. Criminals are opportunistic and tend to commit crimes in places that are familiar. I would expect a disproportionate number of white victims since whites should have more access to the criminal justice assuming that society is racist. . More black victims imply more black perpetrators.
    3. I know the academy, media etc is heavily biased to not believing blacks commit more crimes due to their liberalism. This inclines me even more in the opposite direction.

    And here is one final question. What about Boyz in the Hood. If the story is accurate and it comes from “unprivileged” black voices than aren’t we supposed to listen even more carefully to what it says. It says that there is an epidemic of violence in some black neighbourhoods. Am I just supposed to ignore that. Or is there a another version of this I don’t know about called White Boyz in the Hood.

    • I will say the same thing to you that I said to “Mike.”

      The problem is that you are not disaggregating the data. Violent crime is a problem of poor communities, not Black communities. When you disaggregate to look at poor White communities (or poor Latino communities or poor Asian communities, etc) you find that similar rates of violent crimes exist. Numerous studies (chief among them the work of Ching-Chi Hsieh and M. D. Pugh as published in the Autumn 1993 edition of Criminal Justice Review) prove that there is a causation relationship between poverty and violent crime.

      The problem in your logic, though, is that you ignore the fact that Black people are disproportionately poor, so, according to the studies like Hsieh’s and Pugh’s, they will have disproportionate levels of crime. You seem to be arguing that Black people are more violent, but the reality is that poor people simply commit more violent crime (as a result of extreme economic circumstance).

      The victim reports do not, in fact, remove racism from the equation. All they tell us is that when you disaggregate the data, we have a problem of poverty that breeds violence, and we need to deal with this problem, not simply enact harsher sentences on certain races because we perceive them as being more violent.

      Yes, Boyz in the Hood is acknowledging a problem with violence in poor, Black communities, but that is not a problem that is exclusive to Black communities; it is a problem of economic inequality in a Capitalist system.

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