Where to begin, where to begin. In an effort not to escalate a back and forth on Thought Catalog that is now less of an open intellectual debate and more just a dick measuring contest, this will be my last post about Dave Nappi. Nappi can have the last word.
There are actually several parts in Nappi’s latest piece. The first part is a reference to the long debate in American sociology over various ontological views, one that is likely not to be resolved in our lifetime. Though I personally consider myself leaning towards the philosophical orientation of Roy Bhaskar (and it appears Nappi does as well) this is not of any relevance, despite what Nappi may suggest. The debate is actually rather simple: does racism in America exist?
Nappi’s second point, about the class-based disenfranchisement of whites, is also irrelevant. Class inequality is a real phenomenon that affects Americans of all races, and many sociologists now believe that today class is a larger predictor of life outcomes than race. However, as Nappi’s original piece was about racism, and my response was about racism, bringing up the classed experiences of whites seems out of place, unless we were to discuss how racism has allowed whites to attain a higher class position.
Then, Nappi describes a hypothetical story in which a character with my name but three years my senior (clever) calls a white working man a racist for not recognizing his white privilege. What follow is then a series of straw man arguments about how “social justice warriors” such as myself think white people only get what they want because they’re white, and that whites pay higher taxes to support racial minorities, and all that somehow gives racial minorities more privileges over whites. That paragraph was a doozy. The real shocker though?
Nappi now retracts his original argument entirely and admits that racism exists. Oh, he claims that’s what his view always was. We’re dumbasses. Apparently, when an article is titled “A Logical Case for the Nonexistence of Institutional Racism And White Privilege” and the author of said article explains that arguments about how America is racist always depend on logical fallacies – that means the author thinks racism does exist. What a load of dumbasses we are. Clearly.
One last thought: I do not suffer from White Savior Complex. I suffer from Realizing How Fucked Up This Country Is And Wanting It To Change Complex. You see, I’ve been volunteer teaching poor minority children in the Boston area for two years now. I’ve interned for the Washington D.C. Public School central office, organizing projects to promote education for pregnant teenagers. I’ve organized protests and awareness campaigns around a variety of social injustices, from anti-union corporations, to the gay blood ban, to rape culture, to youth homelessness. And I’m currently conducting research on the political mechanisms that corporations have in shaping legislation. Make no mistake, I’m not bragging, and I’m certainly not a social justice warrior – that is too honorable of a term. There are inspiring people across the world who have done more than I could ever hope to, most of whom go unnamed in history. I am merely one of many young budding activists that hope to make the world a better place in the small way we can. To disregard that as a complex merely justifies not doing anything at all. Which, ultimately, is what denying racism is: the justification for not ending racism. And that’s the biggest white privilege of all.