Beyond The Pale
Weekly Standard, May 2013
Edited by Andy Ross
Fourteenth Annual White Privilege Conference (WPC 14)
The Color of
Money: Reclaiming our Humanity
Seattle, WA, April 10-13, 2013
The idea behind WPC 14 was that white people, especially white people
connected to corporations, were hogging all the money. WPC website: "It is
not a conference designed to attack, degrade or beat up on white folks."
WPC founder Dr
Eddie Moore Jr is director of diversity at the Brooklyn Friends School,
at least 6' 8" tall, and a former college basketball player. He dominated
the conference in his meticulously tailored suits, silk shirts, silk ties,
bright socks, and big gold wristwatch on a chunky gold bracelet.
in 1999 the main WPC focus was on race. But now the categories of victims of
white supremacy have grown to include such overwhelmingly white groups as
feminists and the LGBTQQIA community (lesbian, gay, transexual, queer,
questioning, intersex, and allied). This year's conference also offered yoga
classes "especially welcoming to people of size, queer people, and others
who might not feel comfortable in conventional yoga classes" as well as
"gender-neutral" restrooms for those who "opt out of a gender binary system"
(in the words of the program).
The idea of white privilege was the
brainchild of Peggy McIntosh, who in 1988 asserted that white people
continued to practice a form of unconscious racism that allowed them to
oppress minority groups even though they might not have any idea that they
were doing so: "I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package
of unearned assets … Whiteness protected me from many kinds of hostility,
distress, and violence, which I was being subtly trained to visit in turn
upon people of color." Her paper was an instant hit among her academic
colleagues and assigned as required reading in college sociology classes.
At a packed workshop on where, when, and why white people were invented,
blonde and blue-eyed Jacqueline Battalora, professor of sociology,
anthropology, and criminal justice at Saint Xavier University in Chicago,
argued that race was invented by the British colonizers of America, who
enacted race laws to divide and conquer their slaves and servants.
Battalora: "You white people wouldn’t have the standing you have in this
country if it weren't for white supremacy — it's just the truth!" She led
a cheerleader chant: "What is the color of money?" "White!" shouted a
paleface in the front row. "Good!" yelled back Battalora.
than being white is being a Christian, according to Paul Kivel, facilitator
of a workshop titled "The power and privilege of Christian hegemony" and
author of the forthcoming book Living in the Shadow of the Cross. According
to Kivel, Christians destroyed libraries, killed millions of people, and
brought on the Dark Ages. Then came the Inquisition, witch-burnings, wars,
racism, slavery, oppression, colonization, hierarchies, individualism, the
Protestant ethic, free-market capitalism, global warming, corporate
predation, punishment of the poor, incredible violence, and even the
Gregorian calendar and the King James Bible.
In stark contrast was a
sunny session on Islam. University of Michigan associate director of the
office of multiethnic student affairs Amer Ahmed explained in a packed
workshop titled "White America's Islamophobia profiteers" that Muslims
practice a religion of peace, tolerance, and family values. His video showed
Islam placidly spreading over the centuries throughout the Mideast and north
Africa, but passed tactfully over the Arab conquests, the bloody empires,
and the Muslim slave trade, until, according to Ahmed, white Europeans got
into the picture by practicing "colonialism" and creating "fake countries"
such as Israel.
The prize for most self-loathing paleface went to
Paul Gorski, an antiracism professor at George Mason University. Gorski
called himself a "hypocrite" and apologized for once eating factory-farmed
chicken (he's now a vegetarian), for patronizing the George Mason cafeteria
(operated by a company that "pays the lowest legal wages"), for using animal-tested products (he showed us a slide of a
bleeding bunny rabbit), and for drinking Coca-Cola. Gorski: "I got married. I participated in an
oppressive tenure system at my university. I used big banks. These are some
of the things that make me a racist, a sexist, and a heterosexist."
An entertaining keynote speech by Jacob Swindell-Sakoor, 16, a student of
Eddie Moore's at the Brooklyn Friends School, said people of color like him
could get more money by thrift, prudent investing, and avoiding debt.
AR Thank you, Charlotte.