White privilege (or when white is viewed as the “racial default setting”)

July 23, 2013

Paul Waldman reflects on President Obama’s comments on Trayvon Martin’s death and why we need soul-searching about race in America
Paul Waldman is a contributing editor for The American Prospect.  In this powerful post, he talks about the importance of facing honestly what white privilege means. Until America does that, there will be no understanding of the full meaning and implications of President Obama’s recent remarks on race. “My privilege as a white man is to be unnoticed if I choose,” writes Waldman, “because when I step into an elevator or walk through a store or pass a cop on the street, I’m an individual. No one looks at me and says ‘Hmm—white guy there,’ because I’m the default setting.  I’m not suspicious. I’m not a potential criminal, I ring no alarm bells in anyone’s head.” He says that because of his skin color, he is not looked upon as a type “or assumed to be of lesser station.”  He tells of a time when Barack Obama was an Illinois state senator and, at a party, was mistaken as a waiter who was almost asked to fetch a drink for a party guest.  This is a post that will make you thinkRelated:  You might want to watch again (or for the first time) this brief video featuring psychologist Joy DeGruy on white privilege in action, which was one of our previous Links of the Day (last November 29).

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.