Rantlet on white privilege and othering — an excellent article, and my comment

First, the article:

None So Blind As The ‘Colorblind’ — by Sean Gonsalves

Not too shabby.

Now for my consequent customary rantlet, as posted elsewhere:

“…white-skin privilege – the privilege of not having to pay a racial tax for the criminal behavior of a few who happen to share the same skin color.”

That’s one of the best in-a-nutshell clarifications of white privilege I’ve seen. Excellent article.

I would add that the popular and shallow “PC” form of “tolerance” is really just another form of “othering,” and a treacherously insidious one at that. It takes the crudest possible stereotype of “racists,” and conveniently supplies the user with an opportunity to proclaim their inherent superiority — “I’m not like those people. I’m better than that.”

(did someone say “shadow projection”?)

In other words, it’s just another species of knee-jerk bigotry. But being so camouflaged in the garb of “tolerance” and “acceptance,” it is all the more dangerous to the very people it purports to help.

And it doesn’t take much to see how it translates to other minorites and “out-groups.” For example, if you will, try taking some of the more general statements in the article, and substitute the word “autistic” in place of the word “black.” If you’ve spent a lifetime being dismissed and harassed because other people perceive you as “mentally ill,” then you know what I’m talking about. Now, the usual reaction when one points out this category of injustice is some variant of “Well, but autism is a medical condition that needs to be treated, and that’s totally different.”

Is it? First, I know a host of autistics — and even some of their parents — who no longer think of autism as a disease to be wiped out. That change in perception is just one of those funny little outgrowths of having learned to accept yourself as you are. Second, if discrimination is society’s first line of defense, in what way does that help anyone, even if they ARE disabled? There are, to be sure, plenty of conditions commonly associated with autism — but not necessarily intrinsic to autism — which are quite legitimately debilitating. Nevertheless, a very large percentage of adult autistics will tell you, in no uncertain terms, that the prejudice and discrimination they face on a daily basis is far more genuinely debilitating than any “deficit” which is truly part of autism itself. Think about that.

And yet, we are expected to believe that everything that is done to us is done “out of compassion” and “for our own good.” Sorry folks, but you can’t have compassion for someone you don’t understand, and you certainly have no grounds to consider yourself qualified to “help” them. That’s no better than “tactfully” circumspect formulations of the pernicious notion that blacks “get what they deserve”. No matter the smarm in which it is couched, that kind of “awareness” is at best an opiate for the in-group, and at worst, a death-sentence for the target group.

The gold-plated ultra-in-group that now pretentiously calls itself “Autism Speaks,” by the way, does not allow actual autistics to serve in any remotely advisory capacity — their only use for us is as objects of pity and/or fear in their vainglorious fundraising campaigns. Different? Yeah, okay, it’s different — in that the general public swallows the snake-oil, hook, line and sinker. The larger disability culture has, as it’s human rights battle-cry, the demand “Nothing about us without us!” But in the case of autism, “well, that’s different…”

So try this one on for size: what if both the NAACP and N.O.W. were exclusively directed and staffed by wealthy white males? And what if you, as a black and/or a woman, dared to suggest that you have something essential to contribute in the process of guiding their agenda — only to be dismissed, ridiculed, or even vilified by those very organizations who purport to have your own “best interests” at heart? Remember, it was not so long ago that the notion of actual women having anything useful to contribute to the study of women’s issues was considered ludicrous by the traditional patriarchy. And when any woman dared to speak out against such exclusion…

As one last hint of the crushing parity between autistics and other out-groups, I submit that any black person can fill in the next twist of privileged rhetoric:

“Why are you people so ungrateful?”

Uh-huh. Anyone for a game of “Racist Bingo”?

Like it or not, “mainstream” society is all about making itself feel all important and warm-and-fuzzy inside, while jealously guarding its collective “right” to remain utterly ignorant to the realities underlying any dissenting point of view. Of this, there can be no more poisonous example than the shadowplay of popular “political correctness” — in our “enlightened” age, it has become the gun-barrel from which in-group power flows.

[with warm acknowledgments to Joel Smith for the NAACP analogy, and Jane Meyerding for the women’s issues analogy]


One Response to Rantlet on white privilege and othering — an excellent article, and my comment

  1. Eden says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for saying this. I never had a way to express what it feels like to be an adult autistic and to have been told my whole life that I’m “wrong” and to “be like everybody else” when I know I *can’t* do that.
    I don’t need to be “treated” until my “problems” go away – I need to be *understood* and *appreciated* and given tools to help me get along with neurotypical people. I hate that autistics are treated like diseased or “unfit” people. I’ve heard some disturbing eugenics-type conversations about “eliminating” autism and so on…
    Again, thank you.

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