Thursday, September 25, 2008
White Privilege and Sarah Palin
Tim Wise, author of White Like Me, and well known speaker on white privilege recently applied his thoughts to the current media treatment of Sarah Palin. You can read his comments here. Wise's tone is strong and a bit acerbic, which is why I hesitate to post it. I trust that Sarah Palin is a decent person, even if she is a political lightweight and one with whom I disagree on many issues. Nonetheless, this article is not really about Palin, as much as it is of the "pass" she gets on criticism because she is white. Wise makes clear if Obama were associated with some of the items with which she is related, the treatment by the media and especially the white public would be vastly different. In the end it is another example of how unbalanced and unjust our white worldview is, and how in many ways worldview is a critical issue underlying this election. When people say they won't vote for someone simply because he is named "Obama" or perpetuate the myth that he is a Muslim(when in fact he is a practicing Christian AND it should not matter what faith he professes)or accuse him of not being a leader because he led as a community organizer and not a military officer, it betrays a deep blindness of whites to their own racist attitudes. Cognitive psychologists point out that often our decisions are based primarily on our emotions (fears, anxieties, anger, etc) and then rationalized later. Such often seems to be the case when it comes to white voters and Obama. Indeed, there are significant philosophical differences between Obama and McCain, so I am not suggesting voting for McCain makes one racist. But to put Palin and Obama in the same league or to grant Palin the "pass" that Wise suggests, shows how far we who are white have to go in confronting our unconscious fears and overt prejudices.