Tag Archives: whiteness

A Girl’s Guide to Getting a Gay Best Friend

by Giselle Moreau, ’16

*White cis female identifying heterosexual girl’s guide to grabbing her cis male identifying homosexual Sex and the City best friend.

Coordinate your outfits, hawt!

Oh em gee! It’s Pride Weekend and you still don’t have a gay best friend! Cheaaa, what are you doing with yourself? Time to put on those Louboutin pumps and hit the Castro gurl!

You are an ally to the LGBT community, and as such you need to find yourself a cute gay accessory to drag with you wherever you go. Stay away from the gay girls, they’ll get too confused about their relationship with you—you do not want to find yourself making out with a girl gay best friend! That behavior is so college straight girl problems #lug. Stick with the gay male, he will make all of your (fashion, romantic) dreams come true.

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Why I Majored in CSRE

by Holly Fetter, ‘13

IMG_4494Holly Fetter, a Senior graduating with a B.A. in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, was asked to give a speech at the 2013 CSRE Commencement. Here’s what she said.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m White.

I may have DJed a quinceañera and I might be an outstanding dancer, but alas, I am a person of pallor.

And, I’m a Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity major.

Given this unusual pairing, I always get one of two reactions from fellow White people who seem to forget that we have races and ethnicities, too.

The first is the classic, “Oh! Wow! That’s so… interesting!” This usually comes from confused people who are too polite to ask clarifying questions.

But the second, more common, reaction is a little more honest: “Race and what? Why are you majoring in that?” Given the apparent paradox of a White person studying race, this is usually followed by awkward laughter.

And most of the time, I just laugh along with them. Sometimes I’ll respond with a vague, “Yeah, it’s a great major.”

But as I reflect on my experience (at the wise, old age of 22), I realize that I’ve never really explained to anyone why I chose to declare CSRE – not even to my family.

So let me take this chance to explain to y’all why I chose this major, and why I now know it’s undoubtedly the best one at Stanford. Continue reading

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Strategies in White Anti-Racism

by Elizabeth S. Q. Goodman, PhD student

Women of today are still being called upon to stretch across the gap of male ignorance and to educate men as to our existence and our needs. This is an old and primary tool of all oppressors to keep the oppressed occupied with the master’s concerns. Now we hear that it is the task of women of Color to educate white women — in the face of tremendous resistance — as to our existence, our differences, our relative roles in our joint survival…
–Audre Lorde, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House”

Hello everyone. This is my first writing about anti-racism from a white, American perspective. I’m writing it in response to calls from people of color for white folks to educate each other about how racism continues to operate, and for committed white anti-racists to support each other in our learning and unlearning. Many calls to the general public, and one from a friend who made a semi-serious remark, “you should write a book on white anti-racism”.

The people I am addressing here are other white people (mostly Americans) who seek to resist racism, and who understand that while people who have directly experienced racism are experts on how it works, we can still learn from each other if we cast aside our egos and our fears of being seen as “not good enough allies”. I welcome critiques from anti-racist people of color who decide to read. If on the other hand you’re someone who doesn’t like to talk about race, then unless you’re willing to learn that historical racism has resounding effects and the status quo is still racist, this post is not for you. In particular if you’re a white person and you don’t like thinking about race because you are worried about feeling like a bad person, then please go instead to this comprehensive resource for all the good white people.

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On Responsible Activism

by Heather Charles, B.A. ’10 + M.A. ’12

I am going to do what I always do in these conversations and state my credentials from the get-go. I am going to do this because I am white. And because I am white, and grew up extremely poor in an urban area where I attended some of the worst urban schools in the state of California in a community that is one of the most ethnically diverse in the nation and am living with a Mexican American man I grew up with who told his dad that he had no interest in learning Spanish because “he didn’t want to be one of those Mexican kids who can’t read English” and who is half white but knows he gets stopped by cops all the time because he is Mexican, I am intensely aware of how this whole speech and my mere presence in the activist community comes off, and came off while I while an undergrad, to the very communities that I work with. So demographically, when you ask me to be extra specific, I identify as working class, first. That’s the closest I can get to being honest. I do this because, when I entered Stanford I spoke a non-standard version of American English, and maintained the kind of wit that can only be learned on the playground and lot of people thought I was being a crazy asshole.  And I also do this, because I have the white privilege of not having to identify as my racial background. And because as a straight white woman I don’t have to identify as my sexual orientation either. But the fact of the matter is that the reality of my childhood more closely resembles that of poor folks who grow up in urban areas than it does the white peers I most closely resemble physically. On paper, people often assume I am black. This is because they are racist.

I am also an activist in urban education. Continue reading

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White Fetish

by Janani Balasubramanian, ’12


A failing of the word ‘activism’ is its designation of certain activities as political engagement and the rest of our lives as some other floaty and apolitical space.  In reality, we are always enacting and interacting with the structures of power and social positions each of us inhabit.  My friend Alok and I were at a queer conference this weekend in Atlanta to facilitate the same workshop that we’re presenting tonight: ‘Because You’re Brown Honey Gurl!: A Dialogue about Race and Desire’.  Our intention was to bring to bear a conversation on spaces where desire, sex, and romance circulate as political spaces.  The project of queer liberation isn’t limited to our policy engagements or our organizing work — it is also about considering how we desire and are desired in white supremacist realities.

We use the term ‘sexual racism’ to describe the ways that racism and racist traumas inflect our romantic and sexual relations. Continue reading

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On Behalf of All White People, I’m Sorry

by Holly Fetter, ‘13

I remember Virginia Tech.

In 2007, I was a sophomore in high school, already overwhelmed by all the typical teen anxieties. But in the days following Cho Seung-Hui’s suicidal murder spree, I felt particularly confused, unsure of how to process the never-ending debates on gun control, mental health, privacy, and how to reconcile all that with the grief I was feeling for 32 people I had never met.

But what stands out most clearly in my mind, though, was the response from Korean people around the globe. I remember public apologies and statements of solidarity with the victims, all laden with deep remorse for the killer’s actions. At one vigil, the Korean Ambassador to the U.S. told the crowd that “the Korean-American community should take the chance to reflect and try to meld once again into the mainstream of American society.” Because of the actions of one sick man, all Korean immigrants were apparently now subject to heightened social scrutiny. Continue reading

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White Guys, and Other Things I Hate To Love

by Imani Franklin, ’13

Let’s be real. You try to resist that Robert Downey Jr. white-boy-swag, coupled with the bang swish that only a true So-Cal white boy can pull off, and it’s a failed attempt from the start. A friend of mine can’t, for the life of her, understand why I like white men. She thinks they’re boring, like factory-made white bread: stale, tasteless, and a little problematic. I try to explain to her the appeal of white men for me and (dare I say) millions of straight women of color around the world. We’ve been simultaneously conditioned to see white men as some sort of prize (shout out to 400 years of old-school colonialism) while also taught to view our black, brown, and yellow skin as rendering us less desirable than our white counterparts. The result of all this: a lot of women of color who want what they believe they can’t have. Which, as we learn in Psych 101, only makes many of us want them more.

Now before you interpret this as some sad Pocahontas story, I should explain that this is a lot more complicated than me liking white boys because my mind is colonized. Continue reading

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A Guide to Hipster Anti-Racism

by Janani Balasubramanian, ’12

There have been quite a few articles floating around the net recently about hipster racism – that is, racist attitudes that are passed of as ironic and therefore excusable.  This can include anything from Urban Outfitters making “Native print” underwear to blackface to the colonialist attitudes presented in period dramas.  Racialicious presented a particularly great history of hipster racism and anti-racist responses to it. Here I want to delve into what I’m calling hipster anti-racism. It’s a term I’m using to describe those moments when (usually) white folks perform anti-racist/liberatory attitudes about a racialized issue in an attempt to appear subversive and often “hip.”  Unlike hipster racism, it is not a performance of ironic racism but actually a performance of anti-racist attitude as a signifier of hipness.  It is important to understand that hipster anti-racism can be performed by anyone, not just those we characteristically label as hipsters.  Hipster anti-racism is defined by by being 1) insincere, 2) momentary, 3) subversive for the sake of being hip, and not for a deeper dismantling of systems of power and oppression, and 4) present in rhetoric almost exclusively, with little indication of substantive shifts towards anti-racist behavior or action.

In other words, hipster anti-racism, like much of hipsterdom, is defined by its appropriation and lack of historicity. Continue reading

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The L.A. Riots and the Myth of Multiculturalism

by Holly Fetter, ’13

At tonight’s Occupy Art lecture, Jeff Chang asked, “How did the L.A. Riots change Whiteness?”

My answer? It didn’t.

Twenty years ago today, cleanup efforts began throughout the ravaged cityscape of Los Angeles. For four days, masses of outraged people – primarily people of color – reacted to the unjust acquittal of the four LAPD police officers that beat Rodney King.

I was only two years old when the Riots broke out, a small girl with no memory of this tragedy. All I have is the complicated knowledge that it was the military and police officers that protected my White neighborhood from encountering the flames and violence that were engulfing other parts of the city. The L.A. Riots are a site at which I can begin to excavate my own history of privilege, begin to understand the ways that institutional privilege saved me from being one of the 53 people killed or the thousands injured. By re-visiting the living archive of this uprising, I can understand the world of racism that I inherited, a world hasn’t changed much in 20 years.

When reading about the Riots, one encounters tales of inter-ethnic struggle, of a city destroyed by its own low-income residents of color. But the assigned texts for this week’s Occupy Art lecture allowed me to reflect on the role of White folks during and after the Riots. Continue reading

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Eminem: Hi! My Name is WHITE

by Sarah Quartey, ’14

In the past twenty years alone, Eminem claimed the title of the seventh most top-selling artist and the first most top-selling artist of digital sales (The Nielson Corporation).  But when Eminem entered the hip-hop nation, he brought with him the issues and identities of white Americans.  The offensive and occasionally vile content of Eminem’s lyrics have triggered massive media attention: with controversy, lewdness, and popularity, Eminem wedges open a place for white identity to be addressed in America’s race conversation.  Eminem skillfully harnessed the power of hip-hop as a hyper-racialized medium.

For many social scientists, authors, and historians like Bakari Kitwana, “the term ‘hip-hop nation’ is used interchangeably with black youth culture” (xiii).  With his record-breaking sales and media-stunning controversies, Eminem is the representation of a culture associated with black youth, and yet Eminem is a white artist. Continue reading

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