Some thoughts on Race, Privilege, Class…and the Banks

Pyramid of The Capitalist System – flickr

And yes they are all tied together. Fist off and interview with Peggy McIntosh of race and privilege. More specifically White Privilege. From the web site Beyond Whiteness.

White Privilege:

1. a. A right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by white persons beyond the common advantage of all others; an exemption in many particular cases from certain burdens or liabilities. b. A special advantage or benefit of white persons; with reference to divine dispensations, natural advantages, gifts of fortune, genetic endowments, social relations, etc.
Peggy goes into how white people when they think about or talk about race they are either consciously or subconsciously referring to those who are not white. That there are white people – normal – and non whites – not normal. She makes a point of saying that this is a system that is as old as the hills. Hundreds perhaps thousands of years old but not to take blame but to own it and from there do what ever has to be done to change it. She also gives some very goo examples of this privilege that we as whites take for granted but do not think about. Like how being white can give you a pass in situations that being non white would get you in trouble.
Along the same lines an essay on Huffington Post by Janell Ross about a book by Nancy DiTomaso – The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality Without Racism.
Taking Gunnar Myrdal’s classic work on America’s racial divide, The American Dilemma, as her departure point, DiTomaso focuses on “the white side of the race line.” To do so, she interviewed a sample of working, middle, and upper-class whites about their life histories, political views, and general outlook on racial inequality in America. While the vast majority of whites profess strong support for civil rights and equal opportunity regardless of race, they continue to pursue their own group-based advantage, especially in the labor market where whites tend to favor other whites in securing jobs protected from market competition. This “opportunity hoarding” leads to substantially improved life outcomes for whites due to their greater access to social resources from family, schools, churches, and other institutions with which they are engaged. – The American Non-Dilemma

“Across all three states where I did my research, I heard over and over again [white] people admitting that they don’t interact very often with nonwhites, not at work, not at home or otherwise,” said DiTomaso about the 246 interviews with working-class and middle-class whites she did over the course of about a decade in Tennessee, Ohio and New Jersey. Her research included detailed job histories and information about the way her study participants obtained jobs over the course of their careers.

“That was true for just about everybody unless they were still in college,” DiTomaso continued. “Others would allude to some college friend or experience. But since then, they had not had much contact with blacks. So how would they pass opportunities and information across race lines?” – Black Unemployment Driven By White America’s Favors For Friends

All just aspects of the White Privilege that Peggy McIntosh speaks of. Which brings me to the next story. The Weeklies from American Prospect. A story about the homeless who live at a Ramada Inn outside the suburbs of Denver Co. People who lost their houses because the got in over the heads as the economy tanked. Concentrating on on family in particular. What the author refers to as “Suburban Poverty”. He goes into detail on the conditions under which they live and how they got to this point.

A defining characteristic of what it means to be middle-class is now out of reach for a group of people who, less than a decade ago, would not have called themselves anything else. They’ve lost not just incomes and homes. They’ve lost who they were.

One of the aspects of this article that really hit me was was how much the decision to stay at this temporary place was influenced by this families sense of white class privilege. That the wife refuses to live in a lower class area – which they could afford – but instead looks to regain their former status and move back to are upper middle class area they came from. Always wanting to get back into that “L Shaped” house they use to have in Bear Valley.

They console themselves with the thought that they were ready to leave Westwood anyway. Bonnie remembers growing up in a nice, middle-class neighborhood, but now she says it’s more like a rundown border town, full of Mexican immigrants. She wants to move to Bear Valley, the neighborhood surrounding Drew’s school, where houses are a bit bigger, lawns are kept neater, and fewer ambulances are called for fights on Saturday nights.

She and her family often drive by an empty house they like, an L-shaped brick ranch down the street from the family friends they have their mail sent to. In fact, they spend all their free time in Bear Valley; after they pick Drew up from school, they grab dinner at the prepared–food counter of the local grocery store, King Soopers. They go to the King Soopers cheese counter for free tastings on Saturdays. They drive to the neighborhood for big shopping trips at the Wal-Mart or Costco, skipping the stores closer to the hotel.

“I would have sold my house, if I got my stuff straightened out, and moved to Bear Valley,” Bonnie says. “I could’ve probably gotten my stuff straightened out had they worked with me.”

So instead they remain at the Ramada Inn hoping they can get back to their middle class life someday. All the while blaming Countrywide and the banks for their predicament.

Yes the banks – the last part of the ramble. Over at Washingtons Blog he gives a good rundown on the history of banking here.

To understand the core problem in America today, we have to look back to the very founding of our country.

The Founding Fathers fought for liberty and justice. But they also fought for a sound economy and freedom from the tyranny of big banks:

“[It was] the poverty caused by the bad influence of the English bankers on the Parliament which has caused in the colonies hatred of the English and . . . the Revolutionary War.”
– Benjamin Franklin

“There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.”
– John Adams

“All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise, not from defects in their Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from the downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation.”
– John Adams

“If the American people ever allow the banks to control issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers occupied”.
— Thomas Jefferson

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies…The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the Government, to whom it properly belongs.”
– Thomas Jefferson

And the truth about The Federal Reserve.

While many Americans assume that the Federal Reserve is a federal agency, the Fed itself admits that the 12 Federal Reserve banks are private. See this, this, this and this.

Indeed, the money-center banks in New York control the New York Fed, the most powerful Fed bank. Until recently, Jamie Dimon – the head of JP Morgan Chasewas a Director of the New York Fed. Everyone knows that the Fed is riddled with conflicts of interest and corruption.

The long-time Chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee (Charles McFadden) said on June 10, 1932:

Some people think that the Federal Reserve Banks are United States Government institutions. They are private monopolies ….

And congressman Dennis Kucinich said:

The Federal Reserve is no more federal than Federal Express!

He also explains in another blog entry how the thievery in Cyprus of confiscating bank depositor’s money would be applied here and that this concept was worked out long before Cyprus was known to be a problem.

Confiscating the customer deposits in Cyprus banks, it seems, was not a one-off, desperate idea of a few Eurozone “troika” officials scrambling to salvage their balance sheets. A joint paper by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Bank of England dated December 10, 2012, shows that these plans have been long in the making; that they originated with the G20 Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland (discussed earlier here); and that the result will be to deliver clear title to the banks of depositor funds.Guest Post by Ellen Brown

Here we are with a class structure that is still very reminiscent of feudalism. Where the few privileged at the top call the shots for everyone else and spared the consequences of their actions. How we treat each other and those different from us – all baggage we hold onto from our distant past. Whether we wish to acknowledge it or not.

You don’ find this structure much in the non-white people here – Blacks, Native Americans, Latinos or Asians. This is an attitude brought over from Europe and whites still hold on to it, albeit passively in most cases. In fact those on the right feel it’s patriotic to do so and good number of those on the so called left still embrace it. The so called left wants to have a kinder, less mean and more benevolent version of feudalism.

So they elect benevolent despots. Kinder versions of the Lords of olde. The very idea of replacing this even intimidates them nearly as much as those on the right.

So as Peggy McIntosh said in that interview, we need to change our view – our attitude – toward our selves as well as others. That in fact we must begin to see ourselves and our place in society more clearly as what it is in order to change how we interact with others.

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