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Wounded White Privilege

Posted in Editorials on November 15th, 2012

I haven’t done much gloating about last week’s election results. My feelings are more of relief and gladness that we can talk about topics other than the horse race. But in reading the post-election coverage about how so many conservatives who are in a state of shock because they were so certain they would win, I have noticed something disturbing. The undercurrent of racism and hate makes it difficult for me to be gleeful about conservatives loss. It would feel like taunting an injured but still dangerous animal.

Potok, who is white, said he believes there is “a large subset of white people in this country who feel that they are losing everything they know, that the country their forefathers built has somehow been stolen from them.”

I can’t relate to this. Not in the least. I certainly benefit from white privilege. I am committed to being anti-racist. But white privilege can warp and change when it intersects with class, gender, sexuality, and nationality/ethnicity. It’s the latter I’ve been thinking about this week.

When I think about my racial privilege as a white woman with Latina heritage, I think about passing and how sometimes other white people challenge my identity.

“How can someone with your last name celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?”

“You aren’t what I expected. I thought you’d be more, you know [does imitation of Carmen Miranda] ‘Ay! Yi! Yi!’ …authentic.”

It feels disorienting and irritating. My family is real, and there are millions like mine. You don’t get to erase us or deny we exist because of your racist fears about interracial or inter-ethnic marriage, or petulance about losing an election.

they are losing everything they know, that the country their forefathers built has somehow been stolen from them.

My “forefathers” were immigrants from South America, Eastern and Western Europe. Some of them faced racism or antisemitism. To be alive during a time when the people in power are starting not to be monolithic or bigoted validates everything I know. This is the America that my family has built.

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3 Responses to “Wounded White Privilege”

  1. Frank Lee Says:

    What’s there for you to gloat about? You may have sided with the winners, but those winners don’t side with you. You based your vote on the horse race.

  2. Justin Says:

    I’ll take that to mean you voted third-party, Frank Lee?

    The only thing to “gloat” about is the utter failure of Republican talking points. At the Federal level, the GOP lost ground, and I’d pin all that on their tea-party wing and their preposterous showboating. But it’s not at all funny -it really *is* scary people think that way.

  3. Frank Lee Says:


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