Friday, November 16, 2007

This is your brain on privilege…

Several of you asked that I link to the blog post that pissed me off yesterday. I’ll admit that I was tempted but, after some thought, a bitch as decided not to. Trust that the post itself is not worthy even if the societal diseases it displays are worth exploring.

I’ve tackled the reflex to challenge race whenever someone fails to fit The Man’s mold, but the motherfucker in question actually articulated another more alarming opinion that a bitch would like to delve into today.

Specifically, the writer who shall not be linked questioned both my veracity and authority to write about the things I write about.

Pause…roll up sleeves…continue.

I suspect that said writer has invested a lot of time, money and intellectual energy in pursuit of some manner of degree or degrees. I also believe that he is dangerous because of the underlying message threaded through his sorta-post.

The person in question is an educator (shudder) and I can say from personal experience that an educator who questions the “right” of others to express opinion or the veracity of the opinions expressed simply because an alphabet doesn’t follow their last name is dangerous as hell.

Having said that…

This is your brain on privilege…
I actually understand people who think truth and authority come with multiple degrees. I sure as shit don’t intend to let someone without them cut me open on an operating table and there are clearly fields where training matters.

But I’m a product of a liberal education (go Judges!) where value was also put on what we learn by doing.

I could list off the various forms of training I’ve had, my major courses of study at college, the organizations I’ve chaired committees in and blah followed by blah followed by blah. I could do that, but it’d just be a partial resume.

I’m an activist. My feminism wasn’t just learned in a classroom but also through the art of living. I certainly took classes, wrote papers and attended lectures all of which expanded my potential. But this bitch didn’t actualize a damn thing until I took my intellectual authority out for a spin that challenged the veracity of all that theory right down to the bone.

I’m a militant (wink) and I reject the argument that the masses lack the authority to debate our government and its policies. That’s the very definition of wrong in my book. Give me the voice of the people, loud and skeptical, any day over the voice of some self anointed political overseer pontificating about authority and questioning folk’s veracity to maintain it.

Many a brain is on privilege and, borrow a phrase from my grandmother (who was an amazing educator), not just those full of book learning. People of color have internalized the lie, which is why we too often abdicate our voice to The Man.

We think someone else has to know more or understand shit better.

Someone with more authority or who speaks in such a way that you would never think to question the veracity of their arguments.

Yeah...The Man.

That’s why I wrote this post, because the masses have some serious inner work to do so that we can speak truth to power and resist those who feel entitled to our power.

I’m not knocking the shit I learned in college but don’t dare devalue the shit I learn through activism.

The Man, whatever form that motherfucker takes, fears the militant empowered voice of the people because that is a voice he will have to answer to.

Empowerment lives in a lot of places, but last time I checked it didn't hold an exclusive lease behind ivy covered walls.

Viva la bitchitude!


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Well said, ABB. I don't even remember how I stumbled upon your blog, but I know that something here resonates in me. This is one of the three blogs I read daily (when I'm around a computer). Having 'alphabet soup' after one's name does not make them smarter/better than anyone else - it just means they spent a lot of time/money in college. I'll take life experience over book-learning any day.

Keep up the good work.

Ant Annie in Pittsburgh

Anonymous said...

The funny thing is, being privileged is not a bad thing, and you are not a horrible person for having such. It’s absurd to say that a child of an affluent family is bad because they get several birthday presents, or that someone is bad because they have clean water from a pipe in their home instead of having to draw it from a well or a dirty stream. Much of privilege derives from the beneficial cooperative action of millions of people creating a world full of vehicles and streets and store buildings full of merchandise and monetary systems and everything that supports those, just so we can get the objects and services we want and need.

But privilege becomes a problem when we make bad assumptions. We assume that we “ought to” be able to do something or have something simply because of who we are. We assume that because we “can’t help” but be part of some privileged segment of a culture, that we are also excused from our misbehaviour towards those who aren’t. And worse, we assume that we aren’t privileged, because we are not able to see how we are, and how others are not.

The conscious snubs and hostilities and neglects of open racism or ableism are much easier to point out and fight against.

The most difficult work in any kind of advocacy and social change is that when we have to identify the injustice that is culturally invisible – people don’t even recognise it. We have to be able to describe what it is, and how it works, and why it is there, and to convince people that not only is it there, but that it is wrong and needs to be changed and that we all have to be part of that change ...

cwilcox said...

The Shrub went to Yale and it seems he didn't learn a thing. While that fine institution of higher learning may not have bestowed upon the decider any portion of alphabet soup he seems to have earned some from the rest of us..."DMF"

Unknown said...

Viva la Raza Shark Fu.

To ignore this fuckwit is the best response imho.His little life must be void of meaning is how I see him/her/it.

proudprogressive said...

I apologize for not knowing the details and probably should not even be commenting but having degrees does not make one smart that is for sure. Almost anyone with access and that is the Key when it comes to priviledge can get one. Look at history , some our most brilliant change agents, are not degreed. That being said. America needs to have college education accessible to anyone who is able to do the work and wants a degree. That is part of what made America a shining city on a hill.

And not knowing the details I can without reservation say - Shark-Fu or any other blog owner has complete control and ought to excercise it as they see fit over who they blog roll or not , for whatever reasons they want, to suggest otherwise is well misguided. I confess that i once asked a blogger in private to de roll a certain blog..I was out of line. Sure my reasons were "altruistic for the gay community" but still it was out of line and thankfully he didn't take my suggestion and good on him for that. sory i have not been around for awhile, but we all cannot be everywhere at once.

My attitude on priviledge is one expand it , two the more one is given, the more one needs to give back to society. Thats pretty straight forward. Degrees, access without heart is selfish waste. And the most smart people i know are the ones who are self educated..more common sense ! Some Ph.d do not have the common sense of a tree. Degree do not equal smart thats for sure.

Anonymous said...

I reject the argument that the masses lack the authority to debate our government and its policies. That’s the very definition of wrong in my book.

Oh, you'd better believe it.

One can argue with my positions and try to convince me that my suggestions won't work, but I won't tolerate someone telling me to stay home and shut up.

I tell my students that the "P" in "Ph.D." stands for "persistence". I will start telling them that the "h" stands for "humility".

Anonymous said...

Well hey, ABB, I'm one very privileged person (white, male, hetero, Christian, also with a Ph.D.) who loves your blog. I've studied racial issues, and whiteness too, and I know all too painfully and guiltily that your activism work teaches you all sorts of things that my work doesn't. I like to think that I'm an activist in the classroom, and to the small specialist audience that reads my publications, but I know there's a whole nother world of work to do out there that I'm not doing, and that people like you are doing. Don't let the arrogant eggheads grind you down; you got it over on them, and you know it, so they can shove it.

Er, is it okay for a white guy to talk to you like that? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Viva!!! tell it!

Yankee T said...

Sing it, bitch! This is a terrific post!

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