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All the liberal white guys growing up to middle class parents in California read that and say "I guess I should feel really guilty for all I've been given in life".

All the white guys that grew up in the poor rural South and fought to learn about tech read that and say "fuck off, Scalzi". And then they spend the rest of their lives hearing from the other white guys about how their accomplishments are hollow for the rest of their lives.

Asians sit on the sidelines, largely ignored, quietly falsifying the "oppressor/oppressed" narrative[1] and driving social justice warriors crazy.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_groups_in_the_Un...




Asians throw the "white privilege" theory for a loop, because they face the same challenges as other people of color, and yet still manage to succeed admirably. Victim-lovers don't like them for that very reason, because they don't play very good racial victims - they are too busy succeeding.


Not at all. That one group has privilege doesn't mean no other group can. Here, for example, is a programmer talking about how he was privileged for looking like an Asian guy: http://pgbovine.net/tech-privilege.htm

White privilege by the way, isn't a theory. It's a fact. E.g.: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9873

Or, more entertainingly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG4f9zR5yzY


This collectivism grouping of people with 'privilege' is so bogus it's astounding that people follow it so blindly.

Have you ever considered the possibility that people can judge other people based on their individual merits, not by the actions/inactions of people with the same colour of their skin or gender?

Furthermore, you quote one white paper to prove that white privilege is fact - how does that paper prove anything is factual?


If a lot of people see something you don't, they could all be deluded. Or you could just be missing something. Also, people aren't going to take you very seriously if you run around accusing them of being blind. Even when you're right.

Actually, there's a lot of research that shows that the default condition of humankind is not to judge other people based on their individual merits. And that probably includes you. Try some of these on for size: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/

That paper proves that just having a name that people perceive as white gives you a substantial advantage in job searches. That is one small aspect of white privilege. There are a raft of studies like this. That's just one that stuck in my head.


I have no doubt that systemic racism still exists, particularly in the United States.

Certainly, that paper provides evidence that those with African American sounding names are at a disadvantage to people with white sounding names when applying for jobs.

Calling this disparity a 'privilege' and not a 'disadvantage' that needs to be corrected only stands as a reason to vilify one group, rather than lift the other, disadvantaged group up.

It's practically become a social faux pas to comment on anything in regards to social equity if you're a 'cigender white male' because of all the 'privilege' that group of people have. Case in point, this entire controversy with PG.

The word privilege has become so loaded that it's almost a catch all to dismiss or denigrate people's character irregardless of the quality of the content.

It's not that I think anyone is deluded, or blind. The language used has just become so muddled as to be almost worthless.


So your theory is that when I note my privilege, I am vilifying... myself?

I don't think that's what's going on at all. Privilege checklists, for example, are written by and for privileged people: http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Privilege_checklist

Maybe the term is muddled for you, but for me it's a pretty specific technical term, and most usages of it I see are pretty accurate.

I think the "disadvantage" term can have some utility, but for me it misses important nuances. One is that disadvantage sounds pretty abstract, pretty diffuse. E.g., disadvantaged youth are ones that happen to be born into poverty. But differential hiring based on names is active and specific.

Another is that thing many of the actions that make up privilege are positive ones. People helped me out in ways that other people just weren't helped. For example, when you look at the makeup of company boards or executive rosters, it's not like anybody said, "Hey, let's keep the women out." It's just that they happened to promote a lot more guys.

But the biggest thing for me is it puts the focus for action in the right place: on the people who are privileged. With power comes responsibility. White privilege is mainly white people helping other white people. That will only change if enough individual white people notice their privilege and act.


No, that is not what I said. I said calling it privilege only stands as a reason to vilify a group. Whether or not you choose to do that is up to you. You and many others seem to have taken the tact of creating a sense of responsibility to those who you deem to be privileged based on something they have had zero control over - their name, gender or ethnic backgrounds.

The focus of anyone interested in social equality should be to raise those with disadvantages up, not to impart a sense of blame and responsibility on those who fall into Peggy McIntosh's definition of privileged.

Recognising and providing support for those who are disadvantaged achieves that. Blaming those who do not have these disadvantages as if there's a concerted effort to screw the disadvantaged is great if you want to encourage victimhood and a lack of self determination for those you're attempting to help.


You seem to have a lot of opinions on the right way to do this. What experience do you have that would encourage others to give weight to your opinions? Perhaps you can share a couple of your notable successes and a couple of instructive failures.

Having talked with a lot of people you consider "disadvantaged" about this, they mostly disagree with you. As do plenty of other people.

I personally find the framing of privilege useful in evaluating and improving my own actions, as well as evaluating the actions of others. Having never heard of Peggy McIntosh before this moment, I can confidently say that I'm not really interested in her definitions of who's privileged and who's not.

Having been born white, I do of course recognize that I didn't pick that. I don't think people are responsible for things they have zero control over. But when those things give them power, I do think they are responsible for how they use it.


My experience is that of a white male. Does that make my opinions or viewpoint any less valid in your eyes?

I've expressed one opinion on 'the right way to do this'. Help the disadvantaged - and don't vilify those with perceived advantages that they have no control over.

I could ask the exact same thing of your background and why you feel that your opinion is more valid than mine, but instead I'd prefer to address the content of what you're saying, rather than what your background is.

I have also talked with a lot of people that I consider "disadvantaged", and they do agree with me. As do plenty of other people.

The Geekfeminism wiki page that you linked lists Peggy McIntosh's article "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack", which was the first 'Privilege checklist'.

I'm surprised you haven't even bothered to read the original writing that frames the world view you've accepted as fact.


Your opinions are less valid when they make assumptions about the lived experience of other people. This is what the concept of 'privilege' is useful for - removing the unconscious bias that is loaded into your view of how other people experience the world.

When you make statements about how other people should act in a certain situation, it is useful to consider your cultural biases. This is what privilege checklists are useful for.

If you receive a strong 'check your privilege!' response to something you say, it just means that what you are saying doesn't seem to take into consideration what it is like to be the other person.

If you feel that you have taken this into consideration, then you can say so! Or you can ask for help in unfolding your biases. Just be aware that there might be a conversation going on that you are interrupting and that those involved might not have time to help you.

Privilege isn't about vilification, it is about trying to understand the experiences of other people.


Yes. That is one of the ways that the concept of privilege has been most useful to me: in getting me to pay attention to my unconscious biases.

One of the useful analogies for me has been Acquired Situational Narcissism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissism_%28psychology%29#Acq...

It's a diagnosable variant of narcissism in which a person, like a young celebrity, becomes convinced that it's all about them because they spend long enough in a context where everybody acts like it's all about them.

I had known about ASN for a few years when I ran across the concept of privilege. Then I took some of the Implicit Association Tests, which made it clear to me that I was, like the rest of humanity, not the perfectly balanced intellect I wanted to think of myself as.

I basically had to admit that I'd spent decades fooling myself. It wasn't, as I thought, that I, e.g., "didn't see color". Instead, it was that I didn't see my seeing of color. What else about my mind and my social interactions did I not see?

Those dominoes are still falling.


Well good news: the reason I talk about privilege is to help the disadvantaged without vilifying anybody. If somebody is doing some vilifying somewhere, maybe you should go talk to them.

I don't think my opinion is more valuable than yours. I do think that the opinions of a non-disadvantaged person (which I'm just going to call advantaged, because that's less clumsy) on how to achieve social justice aren't very persuasive to me unless they've actually tried those opinions out in the field and had some success with them. Similarly, the views of managers on how to code are unpersuasive to me unless they have spent a lot of time coding. Experience matters.

Now that you mention it, I did read "Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" years ago. But I'm uninterested in the academic side of this except so far as it has practical utility to me. I use the framework of privilege because it has been very useful to me both in sorting out my own bullshit and in working on these issues. Note that I don't accept the frame as fact; frames can't be factual. What I'm asserting is factual is the substantial advantages that particular groups have, the data of which you apparently don't dispute.

So I think where we've gotten to is that you, a white guy with no apparent experience of either experiencing or fighting disadvantage, has some strong opinions on how social justice should happen. And I say: that's great. Go do that and let me know how that works. But having once held your view and moved on to a different one after years of thought and experience, I'm going to stick with mine for now.


People aren't doing any vilifying? Have you not been witness to the absolute carnage that has ensued for Paul Graham since being misquoted? Are we actually communicating on the same website right now?

My opinions are tantamount to a manager saying 'You want to learn to code? I may not know how to code, but I will provide you a helping hand and resources to help you learn.' I see nothing even remotely contentious about this.

You claim that you are uninterested in the academic side of this topic and yet you debate a random person on the semantics of a word on HN and post links to academic research on the topic. Could you be any more disingenuous?

Speaking of being disingenuous, you completely misconstrued what I said in regards to your world view - here's exactly what I wrote:

"I'm surprised you haven't even bothered to read the original writing that frames the world view you've accepted as fact."

I never made a claim that 'frames can be factual', or anything of the sort. A few comments ago you made the assertion that:

"White privilege by the way, isn't a theory. It's a fact."

I think where we've gotten to is actually you, a white guy with no apparent intelligence have nothing better to do with your life than try (and fail, miserably) at imparting your world view on someone. Congratulations, keep at that.


I did not closely follow the Graham thing. I did not say that nobody was doing any vilifying. I said that if somebody was, you should be talking to them, not me.

I guess we disagree on how I should take your opinions, but that is not a surprise.

You did claim that I had accepted a "world view" as fact. I consider a frame and a world view effectively the same, so that's what I meant. You should also decide whether you think I misconstrued what you said, or whether I'm being disingenuous. Accusing me of both at once isn't really coherent.

I'm sure that last paragraph is meant to be devastating, but you're going to have to try harder than that. Like Scalzi, my opinion is that a lot of young white males are going to have little tantrums when I talk about privilege, because that's easier for them than the discomfort of actually accepting their unearned advantages. That's fine. Eventually you'll get over it. Or you'll grow up into a bitter old white male, increasingly resentful about your diminishing privilege. I'd rather it were the former, but it's up to you.


He just hasn't mastered the social justice narrative. He is being oppressed by the white stereotype that Asians are smart.


The Asian article was interesting. It is, however, downplayed

I still don't buy the whole white privilege concept as something distinct from being a simple numerical majority. One paper on some exaggerated African sounding names compared to some typical English names does not prove a whole lot. Among other things, There would need to be a control group with some names that sound both (1) white and (2) strange to English speaking ears.

Obviously, there are advantages to being white in this society as Louis CK points out, just as there are advantages to being black, and advantages to being Asian. Yet almost no one talks about black privilege, or Asian privilege. Except possibly Gavin McInnes, and then only ironically, as a comment on white privilege: http://takimag.com/article/tackling_asian_privilege_gavin_mc...


How about Sunni / Shia muslims in Iraq under Saddam? The Shia population is by far the majority, but Saddam was Sunni. The Ba'ath party violently persecuted the Shia popluation. I think it is safe to say that you would be privileged to be Sunni in this population, even though they by no means constituted the majority.

There are advantages to being members of all sorts of groups, but the advantage of being a member of SWM is particularly strong and has been quantified widely [1].

[1]: http://www.jimchines.com/2012/05/facts-are-cool/

edit: Perhaps you were limiting your first statement to within particular groups, e.g. tech, where there is a majority of SWM. The thing is, a majority of the privileged group is what you'd expect, right?


"Sounds strange" is part of how privilege works.

What those names actually sound to target audience is white and black. If you read the section on how they picked the names, those were the most obviously white and black names they could come up with, using both census data and actual reactions to resumes.

That a typical black name sounds exaggerated and African to you is a pretty good sign you aren't black. Jamal, for example, is an Arabic name. If you look at name frequencies from 1979, some names of equivalent frequency to Lakisha are Janice, Christa, Gloria, Lynn, Shelley, and Alexis. For Jamal, names of similar frequency are Rudy, Josh, Allan, and Gordon. (Source: US Social Security department.) If you think this study would be materially different with Janice and Gordon than Emily and Greg, you're welcome to run it. But I think you'd be wasting your time.

I used to live in Chicago, where they did this study, and definitely knew both of those names, so they didn't sound "strange" to me, not in the sense of "I've never heard of this name," anyhow. They did sound strange in the sense of, "not part of my tribe," though. As a white guy who grew up in a white area of a neighboring state, I didn't personally know anybody with those names until later in life. But I knew they were black names.

And that's the kind of "sounds strange" that can influence hiring decisions. Not one person need say, "I hate black people, so I'm throwing this resume out." All they have to do is start callbacks with the one that "looks best" to them, one they have a good feeling about. One that seems the least strange.

The reason that the people who talk about privilege don't talk much about black privilege or female privilege is that they are pursuing social justice. Their effort is part of a long historical arc going back to when black people were property and women might as well have been. Once we've finished tiding that mess up, I imagine the conversation will shift quite a bit.


I didn't explain what I meant very well.

What I had in mind was that for a white English speaker, the 'black' names would probably sound foreign and unfamiliar, but non-English names from white countries (e.g. Norway, Iceland, Sweden) would also sound foreign and unfamiliar.

The question I was curious to answer was, are the people who are assessing resumes responding to an impulse (conscious or unconscious) of:

- "hmm, that name sounds black" or

- "hmm, that name sounds unfamiliar and foreign"?

With the former, it sounds like racism, with the latter, it sounds like generic suspicion of foreigners, concern about English communication ability, etc.

Maybe it's an academic point because in a US context, there are probably more people with "American Black" names that sound unfamiliar to white, English-speaking Americans, than there are Norwegians or Icelanders with similarly unfamiliar names.


Ah, I see what you're saying. Sorry for the confusion.

In some sense, I suspect the two aren't totally distinguishable, because I expect the underlying mechanism is at least partly an in-group vs out-group mechanism. Indeed, the social justice technical term "othering" is about how people take actual present people and dehumanize them by activating negative intergroup biases.

In this case, the researchers used in-person surveys to judge that the names specifically were perceived as black, rather than merely unknown.


From the [FAQ]:

4.I’m a straight white male and my life isn’t easy! My life sucks! Your “lowest difficulty setting” doesn’t account for that!

That’s actually fully accounted for in the entry. Go back and read it again.

This one’s a stand-in for all the complaints about the entry that come primarily either from not reading the entry, or not reading what was actually written in the entry in preference to a version of the entry that exists solely in that one person’s head, and which is not the entry I wrote. Please, gentlemen, read what is there, not what you think is there, or what you believe must be there because you know you already disagree with what I have to say, no matter what it is I am saying.

[FAQ]: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/17/lowest-difficulty-sett...


I'm certainly not saying that anybody's accomplishments are hollow, and I'm not saying anybody should feel guilty. Neither I nor Scalzi feels guilty about having privilege. The question for us is what we do with it.




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