Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

What is White Privilege? And what’s Sarah Palin got to do with it?

The cover art for Francine Prose's seminal anti-racist novel A Changed Man

The cover art for Francine Prose's seminal anti-racist novel A Changed Man


There are many truthful–yet not easy to digest–points made on the viral essay called This is Your Nation on White Privilege, going around the Web and written by Tim Wise, an anti-racism scholar. Some of the facts that I did not know: John McCain has referred to Vietnamese as “gooks” and “will always hate them”; Sarah Palin attended four colleges over six years (after failing out of one of them); Palin’s husband belongs to an extremist organization that wants to secede from the United States; Cindy McCain obtained drugs illegally (actually, I did know this fact because there’s a great profile in The New Yorker this week explaining how McCain forged the signature of the doctor who worked for her charitable organization–and this little tidbit has been buried by the media in comparison to the media frenzy from Obama smoking some pot in college).

White Privilege is a challenging notion to grasp, but I like Wise’s approach. And the opposition to his views have been downright nasty.

It’s always interesting to me to flip the idea of racism on its head and focus not on how people of color are oppressed, but rather on how whites receive invisible benefits.

On a somewhat related note, Francine Prose wrote a great novel last year called A Changed Man. I absolutely loved Prose’s novel (almost as much as the National Book Award finalist The Blue Angel). A Changed Man is about a racist skinhead who has done a 180, after being released from prison, and then seeks to work for an Elie Wiesel-type figure who survived the holocaust. Good satire, great storytelling.

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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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