Ten Things Everyone Should Know About White Privilege Today

Ten Things Everyone Should Know About White Privilege Today

Thinking about privilege — the unearned benefits that we enjoy in society as a result of being White or male or Christian — may not seem crucial, but the potential payoff is the ability to make sense of our relationships, connect across differences, and make the world better in the process.

How Super Is Superhero Justice?

Like speculative fiction in general, superhero stories are ultimately about ourselves. The fictional universes allow the writers to manipulate the circumstances to better examine the most complex aspects of the human experience, none more so than the issues of morality and justice.

The Meaning of Whiteness

Recently, I was invited to contribute a short section for a book on race and ethnicity that defined "whiteness". I couldn't resist, in part because I was quite sure that there would be no similar entries for "blackness" or "Asian-ness". Whiteness, you see, is a unique concept and explaining it poses unique challenges. Here is my attempt, in 500 words.

Are Stereotypes Unfairly Stereotyped?

Think you know what stereotypes are? If you're relying on definitions from mainstream dictionaries, you're probably, well...guilty of stereotyping. But don't worry. That might not be a bad thing.

The Cost of Vengeance: The Psychology of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Part 2

Nietzsche observed (about those who fight monsters), "If you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." Is Lisbeth Salander really safer as a result of taking vengeance? Are the rest of us?

The Cost of Justice: The Psychology of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Part 1

Lisbeth Salander's anger is righteous. Her violence apparently justified. After all, we neither mourn for the monsters that heroes kill, nor question their choice to kill them. But is there anything she might have done that might have served both her and society better?

"No Wedding No Womb" Might Save Lives--Are We Content With That?

What does it mean to put the needs of children first? What does it mean to be emotionally, physically, and financially able to care for them? More importantly, who gets to decide?

Twenty Tweets About Troy Davis and the Death Penalty

With Davis's execution just hours away, it is time to not only take immediate action to save his life (see last tweet) but to examine the system of capital punishment more broadly, a system that is racially biased beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Racial Scoop on NYPD Officers' Dirty Dancing

White men "keeping order and control" over Black women's bodies, while at the same time using those same bodies for their own sexual gratification has a long and painful history in this country. Are the women and police officers in this video aware that they are playing out the slavery script?

Kanazawa Apologizes for "Black Unattractiveness" Article, Apparently Gets to Keep Job

Kanazawa apologizes to his employer, but is the apology voluntary and sincere? The timing suggests the answers may be "no."

Where Have All the Neighbors Gone?

The biggest change in the transition from neighborhood to franchise is the relentless squeeze on what, from the point of view of profits, is the most expendable and expensive part of the exchange system: the interaction with a competent, experienced human being.

Kids On Color: New Site Helps Parents and Kids Talk About Race

Sometimes the conversations we shy away from having with our kids are exactly the ones we most need to have. Professor of media, culture, and communication, Charlton McIlwain, hopes his new website, Kids on Color, helps families do just that.

The Racial Politics of X-Men

The X-Men franchise draws deliberate parallels between the oppression of mutants and that of other marginalized groups. What does it have to teach us about our own culture's racial history and prejudices?

Want to know what "race" is or isn't? Don't ask the dictionary!

Dictionaries do a lousy job defining race. A new study suggests that the social cost of this may be higher than we thought, but there is also reason for optimism.

A Manifesto Against Truth

The problem with truth is that it can be just as destructive as a lie, sometimes more so. This is self-evident for most adults. That's why we have the concept and vocabulary of a "white lie." Yet, when it comes to racism and anti-Semitism, "truth" and "facts" are frequently assumed to trump any other argument. They don't. Consider this a manifesto against truth.

Study Finds Smiling Men are Less Attractive to Women

A new study suggests that smiling is seen as sexually attractive on women but not on men. The findings explain some enduring widely-believed phenomena and raise interesting questions about inter-racial attraction.

Ethical Lessons from Kanazawa: Lessons for Writers, Editors

Our professional degrees give us presumed trust and an assumption of competence, but as uncle Ben told Peter Parker when he first became Spiderman, "with great power comes great responsibility"

Beauty May Be In Eye of Beholder But Eyes See What Culture Socializes

Kanazawa's claims aside, there is no single "objective" standard of beauty. The adage that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" is incomplete. Sure, there are individual differences. The point is that there are also group differences, not in attractiveness (as Kanazawa claims), but in cultural messages about what is and is not attractive.

Japan's "civilized" response to the earthquake and tsunami has inspired all the wrong questions

Japan can use all the support it can get. Too bad so much of it has come bundled with racist assumptions about cultural superiority.

Do race-based scholarships ensure equal access to higher education?

Do race-based scholarships (and race-based affirmative action in admissions) ultimately do more harm than good for both students of color and for our society? Two race-bloggers discuss the "whites-only" scholarships and their implications for scholarships targeting students of color.

When it comes to non-white characters in fiction, is it better to be stereotyped, tokenized, or erased?

Sure, we all want complex, realistic non-white and non-straight characters, but what if writing such characters is simply not part of that particular writer's repertoire? Do we still want those writers to take their best shot (knowing they won't come up to snuff), or would we rather they just leave those "minority" groups out altogether?

The Impact of a Mug: A Souvenir Story

"I really thought I was just bringing back some souvenir mugs. I had no idea..."

Obama Spoke About Education: We Should Start With Bachmann and the Tea Party

Michele Bachmann took some liberties with U.S. history. The comments say a lot about her political priorities.

10 Reasons Not To Read This Post

You might think this post is worth reading, but have you really considered all the reasons not to?

The Tiger Mom in (Scientific) Perspective

Chua's piece works marvelously as a sociocultural case-study, but its claims fly in the face of scientific evidence.

Did Kanye Create A Monster?

One of the defining characteristics of monsters is that they don't have redeeming qualities. The moment we begin to like or sympathize with any part of the monster, it is no longer a monster but a flawed being. What, then, are we to make of Kanye West's new video?

A Few Words In Defense of the N-Word, in the Novels of Mark Twain

The new edition of Huckleberry Finn will replace the words "nigger" and "injun" with "slave" and "indian" Is this racial sensitivity or a whitewashing of history?

Creating Institutional Change: A Short Primer

Changing institutions is possible. Here are six specific strategies that will get you started.

No Wedding No Womb: Does Focusing on Individual Change Distract from Fighting Structural Racism?

"No Wedding No Womb" (#NWNW on Twitter) is essentially a "don't have kids out of wedlock" movement, so why the big controversy?

What works well when talking to white people about racism?

How do we create a conversation no one wants to have?