Friday, August 23, 2013

What White People Can Do

Here's a video linked on effbee.  (I couldn't get it to embed.  It's from "Upworthy" and entitled "Joy DeGruy: A trip to the Grocery Store.")

The story, in short, involves the speaker's sister-in-law, who looks very white, intervening when the speaker was being harassed at a grocery store (the clerk asked for additional ID and then did a search through the bad check book, neither of which she'd done when the white-appearing sister-in-law wrote her check a moment before).  The sister-in-law used her white privilege to question what was happening, and thus was able to get the white manager and other white customers to recognize that the harassment was wrong.

The caveat, of course, is that we white folks need to also be wary of thinking that we're "saving" a person of color.  We want to do the right thing in working against racism, but we don't want to fantasize that we're saving someone.  (I'm not getting this out right, but it's a common enough thing to fantasize, and discussed in anti-racism contexts.)


  1. I did not realize there were places in the US that still took checks at all. Here everything is cash.

  2. I linked this on FB and PROMPTLY got in a huge fight with one of my "friends." The lengths people will travel to deny that white privilege exists, yowza.

  3. J. Otto, sure, I see folks write checks here all the time. When I went to Japan, I was told that people pretty much use cash for most things, and credit cards for way big stuff, say over c. $200. I think there are cultural practices,

    Delagar, I'm so sorry. I saw it linked on eff bee by a friend, and all the comments were positive. Maybe we should be effbee friends for better feedback?

  4. Bardiac they are not cultural practices. In much of the world people do not have bank accounts or credit cards so everything must done in cash. I have a bank account, but not third party checking or a credit card. My checks are only good for drawing cash from the bank branch that has my account. Most people in the world including many in the US don't even have bank accounts.

  5. I think in Japan, it's a cultural difference with the US, since many people can bank through their post office.

    But yes, elsewhere, good point. There are a whole lot of areas in the world where people don't have or use credit cards, and a lot of people don't have bank accounts, in the US, too.

    When I was in the Peace Corps, I saw *Airplane* in a tiny theater playing VHS tapes. And I laughed aloud when the pilot used a credit card to pay for gas. No one else laughed, because the town I was in just didn't have credit card technology (that I ever saw). We did everything via cash or a sort of layaway thing.