Friday, April 27, 2018

Sex, Race, & Privilege

Image result for cherry pie wiki

- Tell me again, that story with the cherry pie.
- Do I have to?
- Come on.
- Why?
- I've been reading about race and want to talk about it with you.
- Alright. I went to the reception after a lecture at UCLA on killings of blacks by police.
- Were there any other whites there?
- No, I don't think so, counting whites after dividing the species by African, Asian, and European origins.
- Which are the three races that biologists say have some basis in reality, Europeans being the whites.
- If you say so.
- Biologists say so.
- What do they say?
- R. C. Lewontin wrote in 1972: 'Human racial classification is of no social value and is positively destructive of social and human relations. Since such racial classification is now seen to be of virtually no genetic or taxonomic significance either, no justification can be offered for its continuance.'
- I thought you said biologist recognize three races?
- They recognize three reproductively isolated groups. But since there is more diversity within a group than between groups, they discount the significance of the diversity resulting from the reproductive isolation.
- I agree that racial classification is of no social value and is positively destructive of social and human relations.
- I know you do. Good. I want you to tell the story.
- There was a lot of food set out on tables. I went over to a cherry pie as yet untouched, took up the plastic knife set beside when I stopped, feeling myself observed. A black women in her 40's was staring at me a short distance away. I asked her:
- Did you make this pie?
- Yes.
- Is it good? Is it? You don't answer. Why is that? You don't want me to eat your cherry pie?
- I didn't make it for privileged white males.
- Am I to you a privileged white male?
- Of course.
- What are my privileges?
- Not to be shot by the police.
- They've taken lately to following me when I ride my bike at night.
- You're not dead.
- You're right, there. Can I take a slice of pie or not?
- Take it all.
- Exercising my white privilege thereby? No answer. I'll take a slice. It's good.
- I know.
- You know also, or should know, that you don't know me at all. I'm a complete stranger. I admit I might have some advantage over you in my contact with the police. But what about in health, youth, beauty, material quality of life: in all of which I'd say you have the advantage over me. Why should skin color allow you to discount all the advantages you have over me and privilege only the disadvantage you have from skin color?
- You said that?
- What about it?
- I bears on what I discovered.
- What did you discover?
- Finish the story.
- The black woman said:
- It is different.
- Why? I'll take another slice of pie, Ok? No answer. Why is your disadvantage different from mine?
- You know.
- No I don't. The way you're looking at me eat: you think I'm adding the exclusive consumption of your pie to my privileges.
- Eat your pie.
- I will. I'll even take another slice. Ok? No answer. You know, if racism is present here in our conversation I think you're the source, assigning me the permanent inherited guilt of being a white male.

- And then?
- She looked at me with such deep hatred, I put my plate down, took my bag and left. Now, what do you have to say?
- I think you both were right. Race identification occurs in two steps. First, the dominance of one community by another. Then, when after time the relation between communities of slave to master becomes second nature, accepted as the way things are, skin color identifies members of the separate communities, and expresses a supposed biological determined permanence and rightness of the assessment of inferiority of every member of the dominated community, as well as the biologic transmission of inferiority to their descendants.
- She was right that race was a different, more significant kind of disadvantage, because linked with biologic permanence, I was right that she was trying to turn the tables on me, in an act of racism placing me by the color of my skin in a biologic community with inferior standards of morality.
- Yes. Actually skin color only provides the name of the community. For as the biologist I quoted wrote, there is more diversity within a race than between races, and skin color is no exception.  And remember that you are privileged not only in being white, but also in being male. Women's domination by men has the same logic as racism. Women are assigned the biologically permanent characteristic of inferior muscle strength to give them a pseudo biologic name - "The Weaker Sex" - that justifies their being permanently dominated. As with race, skin color is not a real characteristic of the community it names, so "the weaker sex" does not accurately name the community of women. Though inferior muscle strength historically made women a suitable target for enslavement, they are biologically superior to men in significant ways: they live longer, have lower metabolism, greater stamina, and the exclusive additional functions of pregnancy and nursing. The historically originated division of labor between sexes, the historical institution of legalized slavery, together with the assertion of biological permanence and inheritance make male and white advantages different from the non institutionalized and impermanent advantages of health, youth, beauty, etc.
- And you'd like to know what, in light of the cherry pie incident, I say to all this?
- Yes.
- If I had to continue the conversation's competition in blame and grievances - and I wouldn't want to! - I'd point out that my white male privilege is involuntarily acquired and justified by factually false assertions, her advantages are based on true assessments, for example, of age and health. I think she has the advantage of me, she is the one who is privileged. Her advantages over me are real, my advantages over her mere products of social lying.