Many white people rebut the notion that white privilege augments their lives. Feagin argues that American culture has taught whites to believe they represent the intellectual and cultural vanguard, to conclude that racial inequalities cannot be traced to their past or present behavior and to view their dominant status — their privilege — as natural and yet invisible.
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They feel as if black folk, other minorities, immigrants and refugees have cut ahead of them in line, meaning the government caters to others before them. The line-cutting angers them, although they never question why they should occupy the first position. That implicit assumption — I should be tended to before all others — encapsulates how they view white privilege as natural and invisible. The white folk who most view the world through the white racial frame will interpret events to defend racial injustice and a whites-on-top racial hierarchy.
The wealth of evidence demonstrating police officers often brutalize black people, for instance, establishes that black people deserve the blame. The white racial frame deludes white folk into believing the system is operating as it should when it advantages them and disadvantages people of color.
Thus, when many white people hear requests to scour their lives for signs of white privilege, they are being asked to execute a mental routine they have been trained to perform poorly. White privilege is unconsciously considered both normative and normal — meaning, the system should privilege them and the daily privileges they receive never register as special. Instead of knowledge and acceptance of white privilege, many white people display ignorance: What is this privilege of which you speak?
I do not detect a hint of it. Perhaps you are being lifted by a race-based privilege because surely it is not I. Such ignorance becomes a tool of racial domination. By denying the unfairness, white folk never have to confront it. But this truth has been lost because many white people have programmed their antennas to disregard that signal.
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White folk who do detect white privilege have learned to neither reflexively disregard evidence of their privilege nor twist it into proof against its existence. Only a minority of the population, sadly, has reprogrammed itself in this way. Some contend that working-class white folk should not be expected to perceive their privilege. The well-to-do, so the argument goes, obviously reap these benefits and therefore criticizing the wealthy who fail to reckon with their privilege is proper.
White people living paycheck to paycheck, however, should be excused for their denials. Detecting it proves too hard for them, considering that we talk about white privilege in ways that would confound anyone in their circumstance. Vance invoked the hypothetical son of an unemployed West Virginia coal miner who resides in an all-white economic wasteland. This son, confined to a pocket of poverty, tastes no hint of his supposed privilege.
For one, American culture, not impoverishment, has taught white folk to misunderstand white privilege. Individual white people shoulder no responsibility for creating white privilege, but denying its presence prolongs its life span.
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And that does warrant criticism. Granting the white working-class this moral reprieve absolves them from culpability. To understand that white privilege is real only requires believing people of color when we tell our stories, and belief is not contingent upon socioeconomic status. The white working class hears these stories. Columbus knew he wasn't in the East Indies, was still searching for the western passage.
There's no such thing as Native American, since everyone was the result of emigration. To top it off, the term was the result of the Department of the Interior census forms during the reclassification of the s. Barak Obama, being of direct descent within one generation is, Chris Rock, on the other hand, has openly stated he is BLACK and not African American, while not a single black man or woman in Britain can be called an African American they don't live in America.
Thomas Pynchon Shows Us How White Writers Can Avoid Appropriation
Basically, if you make sure nobody knows what your characters look like, then you better be writing a mystery novel. Even with fantasy or science fiction, you need to distinguish your aliens or your fantasy people, otherwise you wind up with a massive glob of faceless identity. It becomes a mass of homogenized and congealed forms that have absolutely no psychological impact on the reader. They're the faceless nazi storm troopers that you can't wait to see shot down, because they have no history, no life, no worth, no personality.
Now, that isn't to say you have to bring it up every single page, or every single chapter. But it does need to be brought up. Kevin, most serious writers nowadays actually don't bother giving physical descriptions of their characters, beyond a few important details.
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Some give no descriptions at all. Similarly, skin colour is superficial unless it has some bearing on the story. One good example of a serious writer who handles racialized characters well is Jim Harrison. Harrison's viewpoint characters may be Indians, but they don't wake up in the morning thinking that they're Indians; rather, we understand that they are because they live on reservations, because they refer to Anishinabe beliefs, etc.
Race is naturally interwoven into character, but it only arises as important when characters perceive themselves as victims of racial injustice. Race is obviously relevant, both because of the character's own perception that he's a token and because of pressures put on him to play certain roles. Neither, in the third part of the novel, is anyone ever described as a white European. We understand that the French are French and the Arabs are Arabs without any need to resort to describing skin colour.
In short, we only become aware of race when we encounter other races. Race isn't relevant in a story set among members of a homogenous tribe in the Amazon rainforest, any more than it's relevant in a story set among residents of Prince Edward Island circa There is no generalized need to tell us anything about a character's race; it arises only when it has something to do with the story. Oct 27, AM. Andrew, first you say that most serious writers nowdays don't give a description, then you talk about how they make it clear what race their characters are.
I'm sorry but you just argued against yourself. Either they describe who their characters are or they don't. Description means any means of conveying what they do and don't look, sound, or act like by act, I mean such things as thoughts on society, politics, religion and heritage. Though, I do have to admit, that most writers nowdays are pretty piss poor, and quite frankly, I'm disgusted with a lot of books that have gone to print in the last 8 years. Writers that want to force themselves to only insert items into their stories that "make a point", tend to have the writing skills of an agent for their local high school newspaper.
With the latest rash of talentless plagiarists bought and sold through Harper Collins publishing, I really am not surprised that a lot of "serious authors" today don't see character description as a critical part of development and psychological relations between the writer and the reader. That kind of argument really isn't a way to make me appreciate that style of writing. It used to be that a skilled writer could write a "story" that had no plot, no antagonist, no protagonist - all it was, was the descriptions of a simple room.
But the way it was written you could believe the lamp was a sinister object waiting in the shadows to attack the pillow if you blinked your eyes. Now, when I pick up a book, they tend to be written by talentless hacks, who think they have to insert a double homicide in order to grab a reader's attention. Anyone who thinks like this, that description is never important unless used as a direct plot device really is never going to be a decent writer as far as I'm concerned. I honestly, and truly hate this kind of writing. And yes, I do hate a lot of so called writers who have been pushed through based off of corporate back door handshakes, money, and false book sales.
Now if you want to continue to argue about "popular authors" of today not using any form of description, I have this to say: The whole industry in America is sick, and has suffered from talentless editors such as Kevin J. Anderson , who literally pay rent to booksellers such as Barnes and Noble for floor space to store X books at each store, then claim "Bestseller Status" for H books which were ordered during week Z of month Y and yes that's really how the bestselling industry works, it doesn't matter how many books are actually sold, just how many were shipped.
You read a real author's novel, such as Grisham, you usually get full blown character descriptions. You get fear, you get age, skin color, you get accents, you get character background. Now granted, it may not always be necessary to give the whole deal, but at least he gives something.
So, you know, do what you want, but try to consider the company you keep with your style of writing. Are they a popular author because they write well? Or is it because the daddy warbucks editor rents floor space at the bookstore in order to claim bestseller status based on transit receipts? Well, first of all, Kevin, to make a blanket statement such as those writers who don't address race to your specifications shouldn't be writing speaks a lot about your character. I don't ever take it upon myself to tell other writers they shouldn't be writing--even when they suck.
They paint pictures and scenes with words, they show everything about the character s through interaction, mannerisms, thoughts, and dialogue. A good writer doesn't have to "tell" you anything about the character, nothing, and if he or she has done his job well, you'll know. You won't know how you know perhaps, you might not be able to point to a specific paragraph of pointless telling description, but you'll know.
Sure, writers might state upon the reader's first meeting that a man is six feet tall with brown eyes and black hair in dread locks, but after that, the skilled writer shows the reader who the person truly is. Setting and historical context may give the reader some clues as well. Please, Kevin. No more blanket statements about writers. Just write your books and I'll write mine and others will write theirs and let's pray for all to succeed beyond our wildest dreams.
This business is tough enough. Kevin, when you describe Grisham as a real author you lose any credibility you might have had. You need to read a better class of book. I am not arguing against myself. I know what description is. As I said, most serious writers today give minimal description, limited to a few important details, and some give none at all. If you actually read the examples I cited, you'd be able to argue credibly whether those authors use description to bring in race.
Harrison and Hage use little, McInerney more. None of these writers is throwing in double homicides to grab the reader's attention -- again, I suggest you need to read a better class of book. I note your repeated snarky remarks to the effect that I'll never become a decent writer with this attitude.
Thanks for the risible ad hominems, Kevin, and the ranting about the industry Oct 27, PM. LOL Kevin, when you describe Grisham as a real author you lose any credibility you might have had. Connelly is first on the list R. Salvatore is 8th on the list This is into what American Readership has degenerated. It is a living joke. And yes, compared with those, Grisham is a real writer. If you honestly don't know what's wrong with those writers, let alone those books, well, you'll just fit right in. PS: Andrew, before you accuse someone as making an ad hominem, look up the term first.
Everything I said was in direct relation to the discussion at hand, and they were perfect analogies. I'm talking about literary fiction, and I've provided examples. Evidently, you're not familiar with them. You really do need to read a better class of book. If, "compared to the crap [you've:] read recently," Grisham is Shakespeare, may I suggest you stop reading crap? If you do, you may find Grisham slips in your estimation. Finally, you have indeed argued ad hominem here, in your assertion that anyone who expresses my view "really is never going to be a decent writer," or "tend to have the writing skills of an agent for their local high school newspaper.
Oct 28, AM. Kevin, Is it possible that you're a disgruntled writer whose latest literary masterpiece has been passed over by New York? Lot of us like you in the world, if that's the case. So why attack all writers because they don't see things the same way as you? Isn't writing about freedom in many aspects?
I'm just trying to uncover the source of your anger. I agree with you that New York is largely publishing crap these days, when they're not publishing celebrities, but you shouldn't be attacking the writers, or all writers, or making blanket statements to that effect. I don't write to please you, or even to make tons of money, although it is a nice thought to consider.
I write the way I write to please me, first and foremost. I write what I want to read because I am my book's first reader. If that doesn't work for you or even the world at large, I don't care. But it's not the writers' fault the publishing business in New York has gone to hell.
The Cast of Characters
If you were in their shoes, you'd take a spot on the NY Times best seller list, no matter if your work deserved it or not. Sure, you would. Any writer would be a fool to turn it down. One thing you have to recognize, whether you like or not, or I like it or not, or anyone likes it or not--the trend in fiction nowadays is toward minimalist description, especially of characters, unless that description plays a central role in the plot. Because readers of all stripes have begged for that, they want it that way. With a minimalist description of character, all caveats aside, the reader is left free to imagine, to put his or herself in the main character's role, and most readers nowadays will tell you that they want the story to move along at a snappy pace.
Ask the readers, study the data over the past few years. I have. Even I, who love Stephen King dearly, will in frustration flip past his page after page of description to pick up the thread of the story. In Cell I noticed he'd returned somewhat to his earlier style of writing where there was less focus on lengthy description and more concentration on the plot. And to my way of thinking, that may be a direct result of readers and fans letting him know that he'd gone too far to the extreme, description-wise.
All I'm saying is relaxe, take a deep breath and quit alienating the people who would help you, who would listen to you and quite possibly agree with you in many respects, if only you didn't attack them and other writers just doing their thing. Ok before I begin, I wasn't attacking anyone in this writer's group, well, until Andy attacked me.
But I wasn't attacking his writing skill. Mari, I'm not attacking you, but I do speak rather bluntly. You can probably skim this message, I'm too lazy to edit it and I think I repeated myself at the end. Mari: Is it possible that you're a disgruntled writer whose latest literary masterpiece has been passed over by New York? Uhhhh, no? My bread and butter at this point is my patented board game :grins: I just write for fun. I'm responding to you because you actually attempted to read my posts, while Andrew seemed incapable of realizing what I was saying. I've got a much simpler source of my disgruntled nature than that: I am a reader who has been burned by authors who betray the sacred trust established once their book is purchased.
I grew up reading Asimov, Clemens, Bradbury eh All of us did where I live I say that because there were schools that bypassed required reading. Description was everything. Then I started picking up books written by authors who did such things as totally avoided description. These authors betrayed my trust as a reader. Politically Correct authors, so ingrained in the idea that everybody regardless of skin color has the same history, same emotions, same experiences.
It's a total lie. Skin color and other descriptive qualities, means so much more in our society than simple racism. You can't just take a giant can of White Out, make everyone the same, and say "What a diverse and rich culture. The entire methodology of the publishing houses in this country has devolved into this rather disgusting portrayal of the human condition. Even star trek, which is as bland as it can possibly be toward its main characters and their description, acknowledges the fact that Uhura and Geordi were black.
And as I said before in my "rant" although I'll rephrase a little differently because I was convoluted , black is more than just black. White is more than just white. IF you write someone from the south who is white, you need to choose what other kind of descriptive qualities. What is their thought process. It is a psychological connection with their reader. White Southerner could mean someone who doesn't care about civil rights, a slave owner, someone who fought with the striking black protesters to insure equal wages, a farm hand -- this is all part of the relationship the reader expects to enter with each character to form their emotions.
Now, minor characters, characters which have so little impact on the story they appear once then leave , probably shouldn't even be named let alone described. But if you start naming someone, and you don't bother to build that relationship of who they are, what they look like, with your reader, then you will not be able to build that connection with the rest of your book. I really am sick and tired of picking up books by so called authors whose entire capacity for description begins and ends with: "The lamp was blue. Does it affect the rest of the room?
What kind of skin? There are over a hundred shade of dark on the human body. From what part of the globe? And unfortunately, there have been a lot of "professional" people in the last 10 years since the harper-collin's buyout , that have put author behind their last name without actually learning how to write. There've been 4 major cases of plagiarism in the last 6 years alone. That is far too much for this industry, and speaks volumes in support of my complaints toward how people have been writing books. Description seems to be the hallmark of real authors.
If you can describe the main characters, if you can use that to build a relationship with the reader - then you're a real author.
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