I'm sticking my hand in the fire with this one but I figure the people who hate me already hate me so it's not like it can get any worse. I was reading Miracle of Sounds tweets from last night where he was objecting to the "whitewashing" of racism against white people. The current popular narrative from some people who believe in what they call "social justice" (which still ultimately confuses me since it's such a nebulous concept and seems to mean different things to different people), is that sexism against men isn't real and racism against white people isn't real. Their logic, which I'd be interested to see if it has any basis in academia, is that you can't be "ist" against the people with the power, that the power dynamic is what leads to oppression ergo, "ism". It's an interesting idea that certainly feeds into the oppression narrative but, when I read Miracle of Sounds tweets I noticed a constant in a lot of what these people said.
It's so goddamn American.
A lot of this social justice stuff seems to be focussed on a very American set of ideals and circumstances and doesn't take into account much going on outside the countries borders. I mean, the idea that racism against white people doesn't exist, let's take that one on for a second. Miracle of Sound accurately pointed out the genocide perpetrated against a portion of the Irish population and the hundreds of years of oppression that they suffered under the English. Sounds pretty damn racist to me. How about the Armenian Genocide? Unfortunately another part of history frequently white-washed and in many cases denied in America. I mean hell if you want to go for something obvious, you could argue the Holocaust (though some people will then wring their hands and say "well technically Jews aren't a race", you'll have to forgive me if I find being picky with the dictionary as intellectually dishonest in this regard). More recently, we've had the government-driven violence with its Fast-track land reform, in which land is being taken from white people (a 5% or lower minority in Zimbabwe), often by force. Supporters of Robert Mugabe, calling themselves the "War Veterans Association" literally went around murdering white farmers, according to the organisation Human Rights Watch.
The concept of white privilege is very American too. You'll find a lot of British people, particularly Northerners like myself bemused by it. I grew up in pit towns, or should I say, ex-pit towns because Thatcher destroyed our economy when she broke the miners unions and put a lot of people out of work (which is why anyone thinking I support Thatcher is a goddamn moron). Our towns were vast white majorities but I can safely say we had no privilege, no advantages for being white. Some of the richest and most successful people in our towns were Indian and Pakistani. I grew up as part of an arguably working class family. Mum was a part-time teacher, Dad was a priest, neither made too much money but we got by. When it was time to go to University I got no advantages, indeed at the time there was controversy that prestige Universitys like Oxford, Cambridge and Durham were accepting far fewer Northern students than they were people from the Midlands or South of England. When it came time to get a job I certainly did not have an advantage. It was just as hard for me as it was anyone else. When it came to the recession, it didn't matter who you were, you got shitcanned just like everybody else.
When looking from our perspective, the American white-privilege thing doesn't make a lot of sense, because we grew up in countries where race was less of a factor. What I've noticed, is that there seems to be an incorrect conflation between race and class. Now from a British perspective, privilege is very much class-focused and the idea of class warfare is very much in our minds. People are privileged and have more opportunities because they live in middle or upper class families vs living in a working class family. People living in council houses are probably going to have less opportunities in their lives and there are a huge variety of social factors for that. Even just pointing at "class" is intellectually lazy thinking, it's so much more complicated than that. So when I see Americans point to "White privilege", I instead think, "well, do you mean it's a class problem? A lot of these black people you're pointing to seem to be working class, so maybe that's got a lot to do with their limited opportunities, right?". Even that doesn't make a huge degree of sense. Do Asians have the same problem? Do they not count as "people of colour"?
Hmm anyway this is just rambling, the point is, even with the recent "shirt" controversy is that there's a pattern of just where the people getting upset about this stuff live and that's North America. The next time to decide to try and call someone names for not sharing your particular viewpoint on what is and is not just, consider for a second that their perspective might be much different to yours, based on the kind of society they grew up in. There's a reason I find these sort of ideologies a little worrying. They're too dogmatic and seem to only take one, very American point of view into account. You'd maybe be surprised (I hope not) at how many people genuinely want equality for all races, genders, creeds and sexual-orientations, they just maybe don't think your way of going about it is the right one.