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Thread: Unhappy Confessions: The Temptation of Admitting to White Privilege

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    Exclamation Unhappy Confessions: The Temptation of Admitting to White Privilege

    Unhappy Confessions: The Temptation of Admitting to White Privilege

    http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/cgi/viewcontent...42&context=fpq

    Claire A. Lockard

    Abstract

    Admissions of white privilege and/or racism are common among white anti-racists
    and others who want to combat their racism. In this article, I argue that because
    such admissions are conscious attempts to address unconscious habits, they are
    unhappy speech acts and contrary to their implied aims. Admissions of white
    privilege or racism can be conceptualized as Foucauldian confessions that are
    pleasurable to enact but ultimately reinforce white people’s feelings of goodness
    and allow them to avoid addressing this racism. I ground my argument in Shannon
    Sullivan’s analysis of white privilege and Sara Ahmed’s critique of confessions of
    racism/privilege to show that in addition to doing no anti-racist work at the moment
    of saying, these confessions actually reify white privilege deeper into the
    unconscious and make it harder to address. Sullivan’s work, I conclude, offers white
    people a more productive way forward than their unhappy performative
    declarations of privilege. A white person’s understanding of her confessing habit
    cannot break this habit, but it might orient her toward examining what sorts of anti-
    racist moves do work.

    In this paper, I put Sara Ahmed’s work on the non-performativity of
    admissions of racial privilege into conversation with Shannon Sullivan’s work on
    unconscious habits of racial privilege. I agree with Ahmed that admissions of
    privilege or racism do not do the anti-racist work they intend and in fact extend rather than challenge white privilege.

    I suggest that if we take
    seriously Sullivan’s claim that white privilege operates as a set of unconscious
    habits, we can understand this extension as the reification of racism and privilege
    deeper into the unconscious. Given that admissions of racism actually reinforce
    rather than challenge white privilege, my second aim in this paper is to ask why it is
    so tempting to believe that these admissions of privilege do anti-racist work. I begin
    by agreeing with Ahmed that admissions of racism or racial privilege are unhappy
    performatives that is, they are speech acts that do not actually do the anti-racist
    work they intend (Ahmed 2004).

    I then argue that Sullivan’s vision of white privilege
    as a set of unconscious habits can explain why these admissions don’t work
    and in fact do negative work. These declarations can be thought of as Foucauldian
    confessions; they make white people feel as though they have purified and
    transformed their core selves, which is why they/we think the statements work to
    combat racism or privilege.

    I conclude by suggesting that a better understanding of
    the unconscious habits of white privilege that tempt us toward confession can
    actually offer white people a more productive way forward than our confessions
    of privilege.



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    The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.

  5. #4

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    Don't overperform or you might be exercising white privilege. I still can't believe the legs on this whole white privilege charade.
    “There is nothing conservative about war. For at least the last century war has been the herald and handmaid of socialism and state control. It is the excuse for censorship, organized lying, regulation and taxation. It is paradise for the busybody and the nark. It damages family life and wounds the Church. It is, in short, the ally of everything summed up by the ugly word ‘progress.'” - Peter Hitchens

  6. #5

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    Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut - http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthr...-Kurt-Vonnegut
    [Full Video] 2081 - Short film adaptation of Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron - http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthr...rison-Bergeron
    The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.






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