Tag Archives: white privilege.

The Privilege of Pedigrees

17WIVES-blog427.No surprise — social status can matter when it comes to getting fabulous jobs. Now a sociologist, Lauren A. Rivera, has ‘proved’ it, in a new book, PedigreeHere is an excerpt from the publisher, Princeton University Press: “Displaying the ‘right stuff’ that elite employers are looking for entails considerable amounts of economic, social, and cultural resources on the part of applicants and their parents.” 

Those of us who have benefited from a generous amount of privilege are still curious to imagine the lives of women at the very top of the heap. To read Susan (Susie) Wilson’s memoir, Still Running, is to take a crash course in the lifelong advantages of those born wealthy. Wilson candidly acknowledges the advantages she had. And — unlike the Kardashians of this world — she put her privilege to excellent use, to advocate for many good causes, including honest sexuality education in the public schools. Wilson launches the Phyllis Marchand lectures at the Princeton Public Library on Tuesday, May 26.

Today, anthropologist Wednesday Martin scorched the pages of the New York Times with Poor Little Rich Women, a formal study of the wealthy moms of the Upper West Side, a “glittering, moneyed backwater.”

I was a pretty intense mother myself, entering the full-time work force only in my ’40s. But Martin spares little sympathy as she describes the mostly 30-somethings with advanced degrees from prestigious universities and business schools. They were married to rich, powerful men. . . exhaustively enriching their children’s lives by virtually every measure, then advocating for them anxiously and sometimes ruthlessly in the linked high-stakes games of social jockeying and school admissions.

Though Martin claims to have informed these women that she was studying them, I hope she moves out of the neighborhood before her book, Primates of Park Avenue, gets published.

(New York Times illustration by Malika Favre)

Some white people admit to having privilege, some don’t. For both, here is a list of white privilege stories, personal histories.

Amidst the demonstrations of  “black lives matter” and “hands up don’t shoot” some of us who belong to Not in Our Town Princeton believe we should be educating  ourselves, then others, one by one. Until attitudes change, nothing will change.



Social Justice Calendar

It’s been a busy week, highlighted by events surrounding the exhibit Freedom Summer, starting with the lecture by civil rights organizer Bob Moses (at left and reported here)bob moses library 15627635898_42dccf5699_z
And more to come —
Garden Theatre hosts a free screening of the documentary on Freedom Summer on Sunday, November 23, 1 p.m. There may be some tickets left at Eventbrite, or just show up and hope.
The Freedom Summer exhibit continues at the Carl A. Fields Center from Tuesday, November 25 to Friday, December 5. 
NIOT hosts its monthly Continuing Conversations on Race at the Princeton Public Library on Monday, December 1, at 7 p.m
Lawrence Graham, an attorney who writes about race, class, and privilege, speaks at Princeton University on Tuesday, December 2. 
A screening of the documentary “15 to Life” will be at the library on Wednesday, December 3, co-sponsored by The Campaign to End the New Jim Crow, Princeton & Trenton chapter.
There is much to be thankful for, and much to improve…

“I don’t think most whites understand what it is to be black in the United States today,” said Douglas Massey, a Princeton University sociology professor in the Office of Population Research. “They don’t even have a clue. They blame the blacks to a large degree for their own problems.  . . . As a white, I can tell you that whites have a lot to do to make it a fair game.”

White privilege is not an easy concept for many of us whites to understand.  Massey investigates the academic side of it. Tim Wise explains it to the general population with books like “White Like Me.”  Wise speaks on Monday, February 10, at 6 p.m. at the Carl Fields Center. Not in Our Town holds “Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege” on first Mondays at 7 p.m. (February 3 and March 3) at the Princeton Public Library

The Massey quote came from “And don’t call me a racist! A treasury of quotes on the past, present, and future of the color line in America,” selected and arranged by Ella Mazel, Argonaut Press, available free for download here.

Why is the White doll the good doll?

Why is the white doll the good doll? In a study of kindergarten children, both black children and white children chose the white doll as their favorite.

Blacks and whites alike have been programmed since birth to think that whites are better. Black children are taught to be aware of their behavior at all times, because of possible danger, while white kids have the privilege of just being kids.

Tonight (Monday, December 2, at 7:30 p.m.)  I will join Debra Raines, Director of Mission Advancement at the Princeton YWCA, in facilitating another in the series of Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege at the Princeton Public Library.

Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege are a friendly, safe, confidential opportunity to share ideas and voice concerns. They are planned and facilitated by Not in Our Town Princeton and held on first Mondays, from October through May, in partnership with the Princeton Public Library.
We will consider the particular cases of two men and two women. The  men: George Zimmerman (trigger happy and violent against both blacks and stinneywomen) and George Stinney  (at left, 14, the youngest male executed in the 20th century). Also the case of Eleanor Bumpers (fatally shot in New York in 1984 during an attempted eviction)  and Reneisha McBride (shot by a Detroit man when she knocked on his door in the middle of the night.)
Then we will discuss what you THINK is helping
and what you think is HURTING. What is your role on either side?
All are invited — we meet in one of the conference rooms on the second floor, either the Princeton room or the board room.
(This post first appeared on the Not in Our Town Princeton blog).

Orange and Black – and White Privilege

Hall of Privilege: The Mathey College Common Room includes a fireplace dedicated to a Rockefeller, Laurence, Class of 1932

“Unpleasant social encounters resulting from white privileges and preferences became a boot camp for survival,” said an African American, Robert J. Rivers, who grew up in Princeton, In 1953 he was one of the first African Americans to graduate from Princeton University. Many would say that “unpleasant social encounters” never happen today, but I’ll bet most of those deniers are white.

Rivers credits the desegregation pioneers, including Frank Broderick, Class of ’43 and editor of the Princetonian, who attacked the social and emotional hypocrisy of fighting for “democracy” without admitting black students.

Andrew Hatcher, who grew up in Princeton, was refused admission, and later became President Kennedy’s associate press secretary.

Dean Carl Fields (after whom the Fields Center is named) who set up ‘home away from home’ families for black students.

Photo by Roland Glover

George Reeves, camp cook at Blairstown and grandfather of Jim Floyd, who graduated from Princeton in 1969. In the picture, he is shown with graduating PHS seniors Sam Nelson, Juan Polanco, and Jacklyn Adebayo, who received Unity Awards from Not in Our Town last month. (Floyd was so impressed by their accomplishments that he offered an additional gift toward their books at college.)

The speaker,  Rivers,  was one of three black students in a class of 700 in September, 1949. His account of the segregation and desegregation at this university, delivered at the Pan African Graduation in 2008, is an eye-opener. (This year’s event is Sunday, June 2 and I learned about this speech from a Facebook post from the Center for African American Studies.)

He concluded his speech in 2008 with appreciative words: But 55 years later, I count my blessings because I have been richly rewarded by unpredictable opportunities – and Princeton has changed.

Yet 55 years later, remnants of past attitudes emerge, as documented in Looking Back: Reflections of Black Princeton Alumni. Whites still have privileges that minorities do not.

On Commencement Eve, Not in Our Town will host Continuing Conversations on Race at Princeton Public Library. That’s Monday, June 4, at 7:30 p.m. In a discussion entitled Tongue Tied? Rehearse What to Say, we will talk about how to have a meaningful dialogue with people who have differing views about race and white privilege. You are invited.

Questioning the Values of the Establishment

Achieve Achieve Achieve? Maybe competing for good grades is not a good enough value, said New York Times columnist David Brooks, speaking to a Princeton University audience last week. He said he was disappointed that university students — whom he famously criticized a decade ago for being overly competitive — still place too much emphasis on achievement. “The language of achievement has overshadowed the language of virtue,” he said.

Many of the same views are held by Roberto Schiraldi, a counselor and therapist who formerly worked at Princeton University. He contrasts the values of elitism, power, wealth and control with the values of cooperation, sharing, support, and service. He questions what Princeton students and residents hold as core values and how these values relate to white privilege and race. 
Schiraldi and Barbara Fox will facilitate a discussion at the monthly session, co-sponsored by Not in Our Town, of Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege, on Monday, December 3, at 7:30 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library. All are welcome.