Friday, August 17, 2018

The Case of Whitey from the Hood

Pathetic does not do it justice. The letter, addressed to the New York Times advice column, is so bad that one first assumes that it’s satire. (via Maggie’s Farm) Some clever right winger has set out to show a hypothetical white person overwhelmed by guilt about white privilege.

Sad to say, the letter seems to be perfectly real. The Times columnists take it seriously. If you want to measure how the current cultural climate has destroyed people’s minds, this letter shows it starkly. If you were wondering why everyone seems so deranged, this letter also shows it. If you were feeling optimistic about America’s future, this letter will give  you serious pause.

Of course, the letter writer calls it “shame,” not guilt, but the letter writer is obviously intellectually challenged… despite attending an excellent university. We cannot tell whether Whitey is male or female… because what do you learn in college if not to hide your gender, but I am going to assume that she is a she. She was brought up in East Harlem, in a white minority world. She attended white minority schools. She declares herself to be upper middle class, but, between us, East Harlem is not an upper middle class neighborhood. Now she is attending a college that is white majority… and is having something of a meltdown over it.

Here is the letter:

I’m riddled with shame. White shame. This isn’t helpful to me or to anyone, especially people of color. I feel like there is no “me” outside of my white/upper middle class/cisgender identity. I feel like my literal existence hurts people, like I’m always taking up space that should belong to someone else.

I consider myself an ally. I research proper etiquette, read writers of color, vote in a way that will not harm P.O.C. (and other vulnerable people). I engage in conversations about privilege with other white people. I take courses that will further educate me. I donated to Black Lives Matter. Yet I fear that nothing is enough. Part of my fear comes from the fact that privilege is invisible to itself. What if I’m doing or saying insensitive things without realizing it?

Another part of it is that I’m currently immersed in the whitest environment I’ve ever been in. My family has lived in the same apartment in East Harlem for four generations. Every school I attended, elementary through high school, was minority white, but I’m now attending an elite private college that is 75 percent white. I know who I am, but I realize how people perceive me and this perception feels unfair.

I don’t talk about my feelings because it’s hard to justify doing so while people of color are dying due to systemic racism and making this conversation about me would be again centering whiteness. Yet bottling it up makes me feel an existential anger that I have a hard time channeling since I don’t know my place. Instead of harnessing my privilege for greater good, I’m curled up in a ball of shame. How can I be more than my heritage?


As I said, this goes beyond pathetic. I assume you are thinking this, but I will mention it anyway: if we are to assume that this person has attended some college already, she has been brainwashed to within an inch of her sanity.

Evidently, she grew up in a very diverse neighborhood and was one of the few white people in her school. Somehow or other she ended up at an elite university. We can guess that precious few of her friends from the hood also ended up at elite universities. If we ask how it happened that she made her way out of the hood while her childhood friends did not, the answer might have something to do with her parents. How much did they help her out? How much did they advance her educational prospects?

We do not know anything about her family life. We do not know much of anything about her, beyond her white guilt.

Naturally, the morons who responded to this letter in the Times were perfectly happy to praise her for being politically woke. They want her to become a political activist, to enhance her understanding of how her privilege got her to a great university. No one has anything to say about the fact that her underprivileged high school classmates, if they had wanted to go to such a school themselves, would have been granted a significant privilege, by virtue of not being white. Everyone knows that it is far easier to get into elite universities if you are not white. The admissions office will add a few hundred points to your SAT score and will systematically subtract points from Asian students SAT scores.

The great conundrum within this nonsense thinking is that all of the supposed white privilege is actually working to the advantage of overachieving Asian students. And that most of these students, in New York City, do not come from wealthy or privileged families.

So, what is going on here? Whitey is not suffering from white privilege. Whitey is most likely suffering from anomie. Imagine the following situation. Whitey might be bright as a whip. Yet, she grew up in East Harlem-- a notably Hispanic neighborhood-- and, let’s imagine, developed the social skills necessary to function within that community. That includes accent, table manners, persona style… what have you.

So now she finds herself at a white majority college. The Asian students tend to congregate with the Asian students, so she is not welcomed into their midst. The white students were brought up in the suburbs or attended private schools. Their social skills, their customary behavior, the norms that they follow, are at complete variance from the ones she grew up with.

If she wants to associate with them, to join their group, she will have to transform herself… by learning new table manners, by learning to speak with a different accent… and so on. As for the minority students, they probably do not want to deal with her either… because she is not a minority. Besides, many of them must have profited from diversity programs. She did not. As long as colleges practice such quotas, minority students will be seen as not having been admitted by the same standards as the other students. Of course, some would have been admitted on the strength of their records,but most would not. Thus, minority students tend to self-segregate… and do not welcome whitey from the hood into their clique.

So, she does not really fit. She might try to change her social behavior, but that would mean acting more white. The solution, apparently taught by someone at the school, is to become a guilt-ridden embittered basket case… on the road to some serious mental health counseling.

To their eternal discredit, the two Times writers who respond to Whitey do not see that she is in trouble-- because she is lost-- that she is facing some serious mental health problems. And that making her more "woke" will not solve the problem.

[The author of the letter, one Titania McGrath was not writing about herself, but wanted to show all white people how they should feel. Thus, she was perfectly serious about it all. This is from her Twitter account:

I wrote this letter to the New York Times under my poetic alter ego “Whitey”, a privileged cisgender white girl from Harlem. I feel my letter encapsulates the way that all white people should feel about themselves. Still can’t believe they published it.]


whitney said...

I don't believe it. I don't think white people when, they are in the minority, and up with white guilt. White guilt is a luxury of white dominant environments

Unknown said...

Steve Sailer called the letter a hoax, and it appears to in fact be a hoax:

Stuart Schneiderman said...

If I read it correctly, one Titania McGrath has now claimed authorship of the letter. But, she explains that she wrote it under her poetic alter ego... which means that it was not entirely true to her experience. She says that she is surprised that the Times took it seriously... but perhaps that's the most important part of the story.

Anonymous said...

I am not going to take responsibility for actions committed in the past. The only ones that I am responsible for are what I have done in my life. Anyone who has read and/or studied realizes that we have all been the slave and the slave holder at one point in history.
From Middle English, from Old French sclave, from Medieval Latin sclāvus (“slave”), from Late Latin Sclāvus (“Slav”), because Slavs were often forced into slavery in the Middle Ages;[1][2][3][4][5] see that entry and Slav for more.
Thomas Sowell has written extensively about slavery. I remember a statement he made that very, very few of coastal Africans became slaves because they were the slave traders.


whitney said...

That girl could not get any whiter. And I guarantee you she grew up in a 99 % white environment. And the extra 1% is debatable

Anonymous said...

Unlike the experience of the letter writer, my experience growing up as a minority white girl in a high crime, predominately black and Hispanic neighborhood in Brooklyn was awful. I blended at the time and managed to avoid getting beat up. Getting out of there was the opposite of curling up in guilt and shame about race, it was like heavy bricks were suddenly lifted off my body.

The letter and the sanctimonious advice was deeply disturbing. Really, double down on shame, low self esteem and teenage angst? And it turns out to be hoax letter. Lo these many years, I still think white people culture is weird and exotic.


Anonymous said...

Is it possible the letter writer is a troll? Because, that would be funny.


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

White guilt is a virtue-signaling ruse, brought on through guilt of personal privilege that these silly people have attached to their "whiteness," whatever that is. It's like a mating call for Lefties.

Good luck trying to be something different than what you are.

And always remember: bad people prey on the weak. Having some guilt complex about yourself -- enshrouded in fashionable language -- is still weakness. Weakness never protects you. It just lets horrible people know that you're an available item on the menu. Politically correct people think they're buying protection, proselytizing about their faith in government -- government run by the really, really smart people, just like them.

Predators go after the easiest meal. That's not a proud red-blooded American with a gun. That's more likely to be a scrawny loser with a graduate degree from an elite university whose liberal faith confers him some kind of uber status, empowering him to proclaim how other people should feel about themselves, just like McGrath does here.

These people are so transparently silly.

whitney said...

It appears she is a troll. A very high-level troll at that.

Sick Sigma Sez said...

She may as well kill herself and be done with it. The conflict is white vs nonwhite, with the nonwhites wanting her dead. She may as well give them what they want and permanently clear her conscience.

Anonymous said...

The next Sweet Spot NYTimes column will be, “help! What to do when you get punked by a troll!” Nah, just kidding.