MLive columnist dismisses anti-racism campaign and White Privilege

This is re-posted from www.GRIID.org

Earlier today, MLive columnist Matthew Davis posted a story headlined, White guilt, rather than racial justice, is on display in misdirected video.

The article is a reaction to a video created by the group, the Un-Fair Campaign. Davis states, “The video and its accompanying graphics are part of an effort to stamp out racism, apparently by confession that borders on self-flagellation. One of the graphics on the website has the picture of a blue-eyed, blonde woman upon whose skin is scribbled: “Is white skin really fair skin?”

Self-flagellation? Apparently, Davis doesn’t have the slightest idea about what White Privilege is. The people in this video are all making statements to point out the fact that White Privilege needs to be acknowledged if institutional racism is to be dismantled. In the article, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, author Peggy McIntosh states:

White privilege is the unquestioned and unearned set of advantages, entitlements benefits and choices bestowed on people solely because they are white. Generally white people who experience such privilege do so without being conscious of it.

The MLive columnist goes as far as to state that he is not even sure that White Privilege even exists. He then writes, “I have no idea how the video or the overall message is supposed to result in fundamental, systemic change towards racial justice.” If one does not acknowledge that White Privilege exists, it is hard to know how we could achieve systemic change. Dismantling racism necessitates that White people acknowledge that they have privilege.

Davis then affirms his position by noting that there are more dislikes than likes of thevideo on Youtube. Since when does justice, particularly racial justice, need to be validated by the majority? If that were the measuring stick, African Americans never would have won any civil rights in this country.

The MLive columnist then provides “his own message” that such a video should communicate, by citing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. about people being judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. This quote is always used by racists who are either unaware of their own privilege or are in denial of it. Glenn Beck and company are always using this line from King, which is taken out of context. King yearned for the day when people could be judged purely on the content of their character, but he rightly points out in that speech (I have A Dream Speech) that racial injustice is too pervasive in this country.

Matthew Davis ends his column by including another video that was a response to the Un-fair Campaign. However, Davis fails to mention that the video was created by Right Wing talk show hosts in Minnesota that host a show entitled Late Debate with Jack Tomczak and Benjamin Kruse. The Late Debate show airs on AM 1130 in Minnesota, a station which also features Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and other voices that have a history of engaging in racist commentary, as is well documented in Rory O’Connors book Shock Jocks: Hate Speech & Talk Radio.

By posting this column MLive itself is dismissing or downplaying the role of White Privilege. Their decision to post a column by Matthew Davis is a blow to racial justice and an insult to the work of people who have truly been about the work of dismantling institutional racism. However, as we have noted before, this should not come as a surprise, especially when the MLive editor Paul Keep himself has failed to understand White Privilege and its role in perpetuating racism.

Here is the video that Davis dismisses and a link to the un-fair Campaign.

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