The Real White Privilege

Representative Charlie Rangel, joined noted Zimmerman trial witness Rachel “Dee-Dee” Jeantel, in bringing racial slurs to the forefront of American consciousness once again.  Of course they’re not the only ones, but the term “Cracker” is getting quite the workout lately in the American media.  In discussing the Tea Party, Rangel said:

Rangel

Rangel (Photo credit: Georgetown Voice)

“It is the same group we faced in the South with those white crackers and the dogs and the police. They didn’t care about how they looked,” 

Leaving the Tea Party aspect of it aside, I’m fascinated that the word cracker is getting so much of a recent work out in recent public statements.  It’s generated a great deal of online commentary, revolving around is it a racial slur, is it a good racial slur, and should white people be offended by that racial slur?

When it comes to racial slurs, there is still a disparate impact between the use of what is now euphemistically referred to as the “N Word,” and virtually every other attempted racial slur.  For Paula Deen, the use of the N Word 30 years ago effectively ended her career.  For Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, he’s removed himself from the team and is now seeking counseling.  Yes that’s right, counseling.

Of course there are a few outliers.  Tim Allen recently gave an interview in which he argued that as a comedian, he should be allowed to say the N Word.  At least so far, there seem to be little major reaction.  Allen’s TV show, Last Man Standing, was renewed for another season.  No Michael Richards treatment for him.

Rangel or anyone using the term cracker is just something I cannot seem to get worked up about.  The truth is, there are not any good racial insults for white people.  Oh there is quite a list of different terms, but they have all of the effectiveness of a wet firecracker.  Oops, there’s that word cracker again.  I was born in Georgia, and that was practically a State nickname.  My father called me a Georgia Cracker when I was growing up there, and has yet to appear on the Today Show to give a sobbing an incoherent apology for it.

I think when it comes to derogatory racial slurs for whites; this is an area in which black people just cannot compete on an even playing field. As a white person, I just can’t be racially insulted. Cracker? Sorry Charlie (Rangel). I remember during the 1970’s TV sitcoms tried to tell us that honky was a racial slur, but I laughed and laughed whenever George Jefferson would call a white person honky. So call me an Ofay honky cracker if you want, I’ll just laugh.  It just sounds funny.

Rangel could have spewed the term with all the ugliness, hate and vitriol of any KKK’er, and it still would have been more funny than insulting. Calling him the N-word however, would have probably been an emotional kick in the gut to him. So it’s not a fair fight. There isn’t a racial slur from his arsenal of hate that would affect me in the slightest, other than amuse me, but he’s a powerful Congressman, and the lowliest white guy, even a hobo or prisoner in lock-up, could emotionally wreck him with a few slurs.

That’s the real white privilege.

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10 thoughts on “The Real White Privilege

      • I think the Japanese are mostly indifferent.
        In Europe, white people are sensitive to epithets from other white Europeans. The Greeks feel inferior to the Germans, Irish feel inferior to the English, etc.
        In the USA, white people are too confident to feel offended. This is why Jeff Foxworthy can do his “redneck” jokes. Whites who are “offended” are seen as being weak.

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  1. I feel the term “Cracker” is inoffensive to whites since it’s either favored nickname for a small subclass of whites or it just doesn’t apply to the vast majority. It reminds me of the Mad Magazine cartoon from the ’70s where some Americans are vacationing in a Latin American country and there are protesters outside with signs saying “Yankee, Go Home!” The hotel clerk expresses the hope that the tourists aren’t offended and the American father replies: “No, suh. We’re not Yankees. We all are from the South!”
    It’s also noteworthy that most Americans take pride now in any American Indian ancestry even if it’s a fanciful one. However, as one resides closer to Indian reservations full of poverty-level inhabitants, the term “Indian” can still retain its derogatory status.
    There have been many derogatory “fighting words” applied to groups of recent white American immigrants such as the Irish, the Italians, etc. However the words lost their edge as each group was stirred into the “Melting Pot”. (Do you think Obama would be offended to be called a “Mick”?) Black folks were long excluded from the pot by whites, but that has, in the last few decades, morphed into a resistance to integration from race leaders themselves, trying to keep their group segregated so as to retain their status as leaders. There would certainly be no power for an Al Sharpton, Charlie Rangel or Jesse Jackson if they didn’t have an exclusive group to cater to and had to appeal to a generic American populous.
    It appears that these racist leaders are attempting to create a derogatory term for whites so that they can fan the flames of racial hatred. Perhaps we should start showing indignation whenever the term Cracker is used by non-Crackers, the way the N-word is treated by blacks. Of course, that’ll never happen as no one really cares. It is not a term that was engrained in society at the end of whip. It’s just as well. Now that Americans with black African ancestry are becoming, albeit slowly, just another ingredient in the melting pot, we can, hopefully, look forward to the next generation to be non-hyphenated Americans.

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    • I’m not sure that Blacks are becoming ” just another ingredient in the melting pot” as you put it. I think there are a lot of forces that are working to maintain that divide such as the aforementioned Sharpton et al. I suspect that the goal of the non-hyphenated Americans are going to be as far away as they’ve always been.

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    • ” the term “Indian” can still retain its derogatory status.”

      I don’t know if you ever watch “Longmire” but this is shown in full force in the series, with a lot of tension between the Indians and the whites. I’ve wondered if it’s exaggerated for the sake of drama, but I imagine in the areas near “the res” it might still be extant.

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  2. The worst the black kids could come up with against my daughter in school was “Snow White,” which always struck me as a fairly pathetic insult. However, I think it’s a little dangerous to say these epithets don’t matter, because Sharpton and his ilk would like nothing better than a world where they do.

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    • I would agree that something like, “You’re a beautiful Disney Princess” is not a great insult. That makes honky sound offensive. Although I’m sure Sharpton would love nothing better than a good, painful insult for whites, no armies of linguists or wordsmiths is going to provide him that. What will provide that is a major shift in culture.

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