Thursday, May 17, 2012

Is "Straight White Male" The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is? Part Four

I just left a comment at “Lowest Difficulty Setting” Follow-Up which went into moderation. In case it never comes out, here 'tis. The quotes are Scalzi's claims:
"wealth and class are not an inherent part of one’s personal nature"

Under capitalism, wealth and class are at least as much a part of one's personal nature as race, a social construct that was a creation of the slave trade.

"speaking as someone who has been at both the bottom and the top of the wealth and class spectrum here in the US, I think I have enough personal knowledge on the matter to say it belongs where I put it."

Herman Cain could make the same argument.
Since I'm at my blog now, I'll unpack this a little:

I haven't been at the top of the wealth and class spectrum, but I spent two years at Choate, so I've lived with those folks. However, I spent my earlier years at public schools in northern Florida, and I graduated from Western High School, an inner-city Washington school that was mostly poor and black, and I've mostly lived in working class neighborhoods since then. So I think I have enough personal knowledge on the matter to say it belongs where I put it.

Which is the bogusest of bogus argument, of course. Let's look at a couple of people who know more about this than John or me.

Regarding racism and slavery, historian Eric Williams noted in Capitalism and Slavery:
Slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery.
As for classism and racism, Rev. Thandeka, author of Learning to Be White: Money, Race and God in America, wrote in "The Whiting of Euro-Americans: A Divide and Conquer Strategy":
...we must not forget that white racism was from the start a vehicle for classism; its primary goal was not to elevate a race but to denigrate a class. White racism was thus a means to and end, and the end was the defense of Virginia’s class structure and the further subjugation of the poor of all "racial" colors.

RACE - The Power of an Illusion at PBS.

Race, class, and "whiteness theory" by Sharon Smith