What a Black person thinks when they read this blog

Note from Penelope: This is a guest post of sorts. I asked Whitney to annotate one of my blog posts because I want to better understand the white privilege on my blog. I also thought this would be a way to share with you how much I learn from conversations I have had with Whitney leading up to this her commentary on this post

Note from Whitney: I am an Ivy-League educated, millennial, cis, straight Black woman. Also, I’m a teacher. That is the point-of-view from which I analyze and critique your writing, and someone with a more complex intersectional identity might have even more nuanced thoughts to offer. All the same, I’m happy to share my stream of consciousness as I read. So here I go!

I had this idea that coronavirus would be heaven for me because I’ve been working from home with my kids circling all day long for ten years. Must be nice. In my experience, the luxury of working from home with your kids is reserved primarily for White women. Because motherhood and child-rearing are generally disrespected in this country, and any sort of real honoring of that labor goes solely to White women. To live as you live, one would need enough generational and familial wealth to absorb the financial blows and instability that come with professional self-determination outside the corporate environment. Plus, one would need a work context where your employer values your contributions and seeks to protect you (even if it’s only in a benevolent sexism type of way (misogynoir means that no one is looking out for Black women in the work world (except other Black women)). You should know that systemic racism has made your lifestyle impossible for pretty much all Black Americans. You should know that the way you live is an unearned privilege, and many of your readers aren’t able to live this way. This should be my time to shine. I was looking forward to when schools closed down.HOW? How could you be thinking this when there are so many parents/guardians who won’t be able to stay home with their young kids and so many homes that are impossibly set up for home learning? The majority of families who send their kids to public schools NEED the instruction, food, child care, and mental health services they get from school. You are either out of touch and unaware of the level of need across the country, or you’re just selfish. Both are possible and characteristic of whiteness, but I’m assuming it’s the latter. Because I’ve been following you for more than a decade, and I believe you’re a good person who is just ignorant in the way that white supremacy requires white people to be. I wanted all the parents [You mean all the parents of a certain socio-economic status]to ask each other: How are you coping????

Finally, I will get to be the parent who is on top of things. I will be the coronavirus version of the mom who packs snacks for soccer and never forgets extra water. STOP! Acknowledge your privileged perspective! And people will say: She’s incredible!!!

But my son’s SAT got canceled for this weekend. So I thought okay, fine, my son will have to take the SAT at the same time he takes AP tests which only bad-planning families do, but fine, we can handle it. I call the College Board to reschedule before the rest of the world does. So white/individualistic. Instead of worrying about and advocating for the collective (i.e. all the kids applying to college who will be disadvantaged by this situation), you’re using your power to aggressively protect just your own kid. FYI, currently in this annotation process, I’m starting to feel like a judgmental, self-righteous bitch. But I’m going to keep going because hopefully, it will be worth it. I tell them they are delusional to be offering kids the April 3 test date. I suggest at-home tests that come with a camera to catch cheating.

The College Board person is pissed and snips at me.

Fortunately, I gave a fake name, so I still have hope of being the coronavirus mom of the year.

I was excited that I already have great tutors lined up. You’re an asshole for being excited about this because you’re basically excited that you have an unfair advantage… I can’t help but apologize – you’re an asshole for this, but I still love you.  Me thinking that you’re an asshole in the context of this one sentence doesn’t mean that I think you’re a bad person. I mean, you’re human and we’re all assholes in our own way. Don’t feel bad or offended, just do better… Isn’t it so telling how I’m so apologetic in these comments?? I was excited to casually explain to other parents that good tutors are hard to find and we found self-paced online learning to be totally inefficient. But I forgot to take into account that all our tutors work in hospitals and they are about to start working 10-million-hour shifts.

The only reason I get any work done while we homeschool is that I don’t homeschool. Right. Your version of homeschooling is paying people to do it for you. So we can’t get rid of all the tutors.  The tutor for SAT writing is a consultant who can’t travel. But I have no faith that there will be another SAT before college applications are due this fall. So we do what I have found works best: stick with a tutor you love and have your kid and the tutor find a topic they want to study together. The topic doesn’t matter nearly as much as the synergy between the two people. What a beautiful luxury. Your kids get a schooling experience that is tailored to their individual growth. They get to thrive through academic learning. School in America has nothing to do with such pursuits; instead, it’s more about acculturation to white supremacy. I’m so sad that every child doesn’t have access to the type of schooling you’ve described.

My younger son practices cello all day, with scattered breaks for piano, music theory and texting to other kids who play music all day. So self-isolation should be really easy for him — musicians practically choose this as a way of life.  But my son has a concussion from a car crash that happened six weeks ago which I did not write about because the lawyer said not to. Anyway, my son’s going crazy from boredom.

He tells me he’s bored like it’s my fault.

I tell him boring people are bored, which is what I used to tell my kids when they were tiny homeschoolers learning to identify their own interests. Learning to identify their own interests?? Do you know how much of a luxury this is? Do you know how many Black people die without ever coming close to being able to experience this? I’m not even talking about older Black people. Black millennials are so busy figuring out how to make money and catch up on the 400 hundred-year head-start white folks have (which, by the way, is a fool’s errand given the way our country is set up) that they don’t have the bandwidth to learn to identify their own interests. Seriously, any Black person nurturing their own interests is a revolutionary. I was going to say that the same is true for Black people your kids’ age, but I can’t afford to be that pessimistic.

He’s had enough of my homeschool pontificating. He says, “Mom, do you think it’s true that boring kids are a result of boring parents?” Ha! This is the sort of content I love to see in your blog. Your kids are very endearing. Thanks for sharing their gems with us.

We play Monopoly. I hate Monopoly because all those houses and hotels just beg the person losing to flick the board in a way that launches all those little pieces into flight. AND it’s a stupid, racist, classist game. But let me stop. I’m just being petty now. Let me chill out. I add my own rules to make the game go faster, like no pot of money in the middle. I make hazelnut high-rises worth twice as much as hotels. The kids are offended that I would use our coronavirus food supply for a game. So I drink Pinot Noir each time I pass go because the alcohol supply is my own. Love. But that’s just because in this regard, I’m as privileged as you.

Dinner is four cheeseless takeout pizzas because I can’t decide if takeout is risky and the boys can’t decide if one pizza each is enough.

One pizza each is not enough. But still, each kid gives me their best slice, which is touching. I nibble on crust wishing for teenage metabolism. Same. But we should stop feeling like this because it’s white supremacist, misogynist bullshit. Our bodies are good no matter how they look. There’s no reason for us to fear eating pizza for dinner sometimes or to envy the metabolisms and bodies of teenagers as grown-ass women. Did you know that fatphobia is just a facet of white supremacy? Look it up. Educate and free yourself, sis! The boys are quiet when they eat. And the streets of Boston are quiet now that the students have all flown home to deliver coronavirus from the petri-dish dorms to little houses full of old people all over the country. This is a moment in history where we will talk about how during their formative years, generation Z went from one crisis to the next.

The boys want to go to Barnes and Noble.

I tell them to forget it.

They growl.

“We have 400 books. Amazon has 4 million books. You don’t need to go get a virus from people waiting in line at Barnes and Noble.”

“Fine. We’re taking a walk.”

“Fine. But be careful. It’s a pandemic. Pandemic. Okay?”

“Ok boomer.”

I have come to terms with being called a boomer when I am not. But I am still getting used to searching for the generational inference the kid is making when they say ok boomer. In this case it’s because kids are downplaying coronavirus because it’s most dangerous to baby boomers. Younger kids refer to coronavirus as boomer remover and older kids call it the accelerator candidate — as in a candidate who makes things much worse much faster will finally get baby boomers out of power. Ugh from the mouths of babes! This probably makes me a bad person, but I lowkey hope the kids are right and that this virus makes way for actual equity and justice in a BlackPower-WomanPower-WorkerPower-QueerPower-AllPowerToThePeople type of way. (Before people complain, the majority of tweets on the topic of boomer remover are making fun of baby boomers being upset about being made fun of.)

I let the kids leave the apartment because I’m so excited to be alone. Are you aware that for so many Black people in urban areas, this is literally impossible? This isn’t a rhetorical question. I can’t actually tell whether you have any awareness of that fact. I think you actually never think of these things due to white supremacy… Anyway, I think you should know. And if you didn’t know, now you know. I know we are not supposed to be touching books that hundreds of other people touch. I imagine Barnes and Noble using Purell on the hardbacks to reassure us that shopping is safe.

I do not use my alone time to work. I clean up the dining room table because the research about neighborhoods with broken windows [You do know this is debunked antiquated, racist bullshit, right? Go take another look. Try searching broken+windows+racist] also applies to apartments with teenage leftovers. I read news about coronavirus. I decided to order more wine. I have underestimated how bad this is going to be.

The kids come home with The Communist Manifesto. Great. I really do hope they become communists. Have them read Cedric J. Robinson’s Black Marxism next. You should read it too. Barnes and Noble added a fancy cover to jack up the price to a point that would have made Marx cry.

My kids made a plan to listen to the audio version because the concussion means no reading. My older son falls asleep because, honestly, this book is no page-turner. My younger son says, “Mom, this book is so boring. You should drink every time they say bourgeoisie.”

I cancel the case of wine. It’s going to take everything in me to keep us sane through Pandemic 2020.

202 replies
Newer Comments »
  1. Chris F
    Chris F says:

    Why do “Black” people get to be capitalized while “white” people are relegated to lower case?

    • Nami
      Nami says:

      Only white supremacists capitalize the w in “white”. But hey, if that’s who you want to associate yourself with…

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Chris, when you asked that, I realized that I didn’t know the answer. So, I appreciate Nami’s spunky answer.

      I also didn’t realize that Whitney capitalized Black and not white. So I immediately removed the capital W from my introduction, and then I googled to find out what’s up with capitalizations.

      The official word from the AP is here:

      The AP says that Black is capitalized in the context of race and culture. The capitalization rule does not apply to white because white does not represent a shared culture and history the way Black does. Also, here’s a great explanation from Eve Ewing: “Whiteness remains invisible, and as is the case with all power structures, its invisibility does crucial work to maintain its power.”


      • christy
        christy says:

        Oh dear. I’ve been doing that incorrectly. Thank you for the correction. I will fix it going forward. (I was capitalizing the W because I thought it was correct to do both the B and the W. I will stop doing that now.)

      • Bostonian
        Bostonian says:

        These are all interesting decisions. The main point seems to be:

        “White doesn’t represent a shared culture and history in the way Black does,”

        This assertion raises more questions than it answers.

        We have discussed previously on this blog the fascinating phenomenon of Black people attending Ivy League colleges such as Harvard: the majority are from Africa or the West Indies. Do these Black people have a shared culture and history with Black people in America? Their over-representation in elite colleges seems to support the idea they don’t. Are people from Africa and the West Indies then small-b black people instead?

        One of the interesting books I’ve read recently about “race” was “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race,” by Reni Eddo-Lodge. Towards the beginning of the book, she states the following:

        I’d only ever encountered black history through American-centric educational displays and lesson plans in primary in secondary school. With a heavy focus on Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad and Martin Luther King, Jr, the household names of America’s civil rights movement felt important to me, but also a million miles away from my life as a young black girl growing up in north London.”

        It kind of makes sense to use the big-B Black to describe people with the shared experience of Black culture and inheritance in America, and the small-b black to describe people who are phenotypically similar but come from other traditions.

        One of the personal experiences that made a mark on me was an impassioned, largely one-side conversation I had with a taxi driver some years back. The man had immigrated from the West Indies, and his culture and that of the American community he first moved to did not fit well. He practically shouted, “They called me a COCONUT!” in an accent it would be disrespectful to reproduce. He ended up moving, with his children, to a different (and much whiter) community, where he felt they were treated better.

        Is he Black? He clearly didn’t feel that common culture.

        Also, fascinating post. Bully for you. Very brave.

        • Etienne
          Etienne says:

          The intersection of Africans in America and Africans in the Caribbean is a really interesting history. There are absolutely differences and nuance. But two brief points to be provocative. First, there was slavery in the Caribbean (ever hear about the Haitian revolution?). And second, there were slaves from the US transferred to the Caribbean at certain points during the pre-antebellum period, which is to say some Caribbean May trace their lineage right back to America.

          • Bostonian
            Bostonian says:

            Thanks for responding, Etienne. I have found your responses on this thread to be very informative and thought-provoking.

            I speak from the perspective of someone from a multi-racial family (Hispanic and Asian, though I personally benefit from the privileges of whiteness), who also lived in Latin America for a large part of his life.

            I’m well aware that there was slavery in Haiti, and in the Caribbean and West Indies and South America in general. In some places, practically speaking, there still is: I lived and worked in the Dominican Republic for a few years, and I’ve seen bateys, where Haitians are confined in conditions approximating slavery. Also, one of my thesis advisors was Haitian in origin; as someone with a cafe-au-lai complexion, his relationship with his homeland was always fraught, and we had many conversations about the complicated position of being a PoC in America and a blan in Haiti.

            The idea that I’m contemplating is that the culture and experience of American Blacks – in terms of the continuity of generations during and after slavery, and through the Jim Crow years, redlining, and the New Jim Crow – is perhaps as different from the culture and experience of black people from Africa, England, France, the West Indies, etc. as it is from the culture of poor whites in America. And that difference matters, as a question of cultural understanding and of public policy. That difference may be why you prefer to spell Black with a big B and Eddo-Lodge spells it with a little b.

            One might compare it to the diversity among the Hispanic population in America. In our public schools in my city, there are more Hispanic kids than Black kids. Many of these kids are from poor families, and live in poor neighborhoods, with similar challenges as those who lived there before them. There are other first-generation Hispanic Americans entering the schools as well, who are the children of Hispanic professionals who have recently moved to the city, bringing their upper-class Latin American culture here to interact with upper-class American culture.

            I recall having a conversation about local Yacht Clubs with a nice Ivy-educated father from Guatemala who was impeccably dressed in a blazer with cufflinks and thinking “Gosh, I’m out of my league here.” I felt like a total mutt compared to this elegant Gachupin. I never had, nor ever will have, a yacht. That man has less in common with a Cuban refugee than I do; he probably isn’t even related to any.

            I don’t want try to split up and categorize people just to divide them. What I want to do is focus on the problem of generational poverty and historic oppression among the American Black population and to care that, when we create policy in order to address those problems, it actually addresses them, instead of further elevating one group over another. Sending young Jamaicans and Ghanaians to Harvard does nothing to address generational poverty in the United States.

            We are living through interesting times. One thing I find fascinating right now is how widespread support of BLM has suddenly mushroomed. Yes, it’s about time. And also, it’s a strange time. It even seems possible we may see some genuine change as a result. Electorally, it seems we are poised for an era-defining election. Joe Biden has made it clear he would like to pick a Black woman as his running mate, and he has four on his shortlist, though he won’t say who. In any case, I hope she brings a new perspective to the big table, and ends up President after him. Whether she’s Black or black.

            Also, housekeeping: PT, can’t you include a ‘preview’ button so that I can save myself from munging my brackets?

      • Tab
        Tab says:

        The idea that “black” represents shared culture and history seems incredibly reductive. All black people have a shared culture and history??? That is ridiculous. There are major religious, cultural, historical, economic and language differences amongst the world’s black citizens. Black people across the world have as much diversity as white people, yellow people and brown people.

    • Lisa
      Lisa says:

      Why are white ppl like you always so stressed about what Black ppl do and how we do it? Did a piece of your soul die because of the capital B?

    • Sophie
      Sophie says:

      For a lot of reasons already mentioned, but here’s one that should make sense to anyone: white people have the privilege to acknowledge their lineage. I can capitalize Italian. Or Irish. Or German. Or whatnot. You can as well. When we refer to “white” people we refer to anyone who has a lineage they can capitalize. When we refer to Black people, not everyone has that luxury to say “Ethiopian” or “Namibian.” White people took that privilege away, so I’m confused why a white person would think they were owed the privilege to capitalize TWO things.

  2. Katarina
    Katarina says:

    Does white supremacy apply to only Americans or all white people in the whole world? Millions of white people in parts of the world where I have lived on have spent a lot of time are poorer than any Americans, Black or white. They eat food out of garbage cans. They feeeze in winter with almost no heat and die of heat in the summer. They have no opportunity for educational advancement and even if they have a high degree of education, they can’t get a job because the jobs don’t exist. They barely survive without growing food on tiny plots of land outside the city because they live in tiny apartments that are old and have horrible plumbing. They will never own a car so they take a bus to that little garden plot. And unless people trade with friends, they can never get enough. There is no chance of improving your options. It doesn’t exist. I’ve expectancy is significantly shorter than in the US.

    I agree that Penelope is completely out of touch with the reality that most Americans face. I marvel at her claims to be anti-capitalist and yet so adamant that her kids get into prestigious schools and even become wealthy. She has written on this multiple times. I grew up under the poverty line and near one of Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods. My FRIENDS ended up in gangs. I had classmates killed in gangs. I don’t claim to be an expert on what it means to be Black or Black in America. I would not begin to try.
    I also have Black friends from the same neighborhood who became high powered executives, BTW.

    People who are used to having money and getting what they want make up a lot of our white population. Then there are those who feel guilty and go around condemning their own lives and the lives of others so they don’t have to take the blame alone for inequality. They still want to have lots of money and do things with that money, but they don’t want to seem callous so they champion “the downtrodden” as they see it. Then there are those who have many and varying opinions, attitudes and actions which are not in lockstep with anyone else.

    I don’t like going through life with hatred or rancor towards other people. It will make me sick and I have already had cancer. I accept that many Black people will hate my guts just because I am a white woman (Whitney, perhaps? I don’t know.) There are Black people who love me. There are Black people who want nothing to do with me and others who simply enjoy my company. I don’t have control over how people see me or if they will accept or reject me. I don’t think I am supposed to spend my years trying to prove myself to anyone. I do owe it to myself to try to humble myself as much as I can in this life, unpleasant as that can be. But humbling myself because it is the path to truth is different than humbling myself to prove I am somehow acceptable. I would not want anyone to live his or her precious life that way.

    Because I have lived around the world, whiteness to me is not something uniquely American. The world is a big place. I mean no offense to Penelope, but she comes from a background of wealth and she assumes everyone wants what she wants. We don’t. I read this blog to get an idea of how people think in different spheres.

    Whitney has a right to her opinion and it is nice of Penelope to let her express them. I hope it has been a rewarding experience for both of you. For me, Whitney’s perspective is more familiar than Penelope’s.

    I just offer this response as another perspective. I am not trying to persuade anyone about anything. Why should anyone want to see things my way in particular? There is no reason for that. I do like learning how other people see the world, especially people from different corners of the country and world.

    • Camille
      Camille says:

      Whiteness in America has been tied to supremacy through systemic means — so it operates more like Afrikaaners in South Africa than, say, the Caribbean. Sometimes I think of it like the Irish and the British. In the US we have an undeclared caste system that informs what’s possible economically and socially for an entire group of people who are American, who work, who were (in reality) America’s first middle class. For further reading, might I suggest White Trash by Nancy Isenberg? You’ll get a better idea of the scope of the problem, how it is used to control poor whites in America and why the impact is so pernicious for Black and Brown people in America.

      Also, your friends who moved into C-Suites are exceptions. They would have been exceptions in any environment. The exceptions pretty much prove the rule. They don’t exist in C-Suites with other Black people at the same % present in society. They likely exist alone and make exceptional cultural trade-offs in order to survive.


      • Katarina
        Katarina says:

        Thank you, Camille, for your very interesting feedback. I’m coming from a family of immigrants (refugees) so this is why my question was relevant to me. I do hope Penelope will remove my comment, though.

      • Ibtisaam
        Ibtisaam says:

        English South Africans, the other white tribe in South Africa, also benefitted greatly from Apartheid, although they like to hang it on the “Afrikaaners” (whites of mainly Dutch/French origin). I’m South African and I’d like to think that we’ve turned things around somewhat, primarily due to some intense affirmative action. But then again, whites are an extremely small minority here. Enjoyed your perspective, Whitney!

    • Amelia
      Amelia says:

      This is exhausting. What is the point of reading a thought-provoking piece if you just want to receive affirmation that you don’t have to grow as a person?. Your comparative suffering re:poverty is racist. Mentioning “white people are poor and eat garbage” is white supremacy In action. You’re only doing it to brigade and silence any mention or acknowledgement of Black suffering.

      • Katarina
        Katarina says:

        Penelope, please remove my comment. I don’t want to exhaust, silence or brigade anyone.

        I am sorry.

        • Jen
          Jen says:

          Penelope/ Katerina, please do not remove the comment. It is important firstly to take responsibility for our mistakes and growth, even when they are in public (making mistakes does not make you a bad person unless you choose to not correct yourself and change— perfectionism is also a tool of white supremacy :). Secondly, the responses are work that people put in to educate not just you (K) but others who might read this thread later and might have some of the same views as you. Erasing that effort and the opportunity for others to learn is misguided.

          • Penelope Trunk
            Penelope Trunk says:

            Katarina, you’re comment is great. Because you’re showing everyone what it looks like to change your mind. You listened to people and considered alternatives. And then, in an earth-shattering moment for the Internet, you admitted that you made a mistake in the middle of a comment string. This is brave and honest and few people can do that.

            This is why I love the comments section of the blog so so so much.


    • Sophie
      Sophie says:

      White privilege is not tied to money. No white person is poor because of their skin color. This idea that a few white outliers are significantly poorer than your average white person speaks to other issues. And as a white person, yes, my life has not been as easy as say, Willow Smith, because I have significantly less income and my parents aren’t wealthy. But in other ways, my life is more privileged: A cop will never drag me from a car and stand on my neck. It’s so white to think money is the only privilege that matters! If lack of money is your only complaint, you are starting miles ahead of POC.

  3. Nami
    Nami says:

    I love love love this post. I love Whitney’s comments. I hope everyone who reads this keeps an open mind and is willing to learn from it rather than taking offense.

  4. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    “any Black person nurturing their own interests is a revolutionary”

    Yep 💯. Thank you Whitney for putting in this effort to educate us all.
    Also this line “you’re an asshole for this, but I still love you” captures how I feel too :-).

  5. Jay S.
    Jay S. says:

    I’m sure this is swimming upstream, but there is so much bullshit here. Going to give one example – if I google anything and add the word “racist”, something is going to come back through that lens.
    Perhaps Penelope should give equal time? Or is it offensive now to have reasonable debate?

    • Clare Green
      Clare Green says:

      Equal time to what? What is there to debate? The purpose of the post is to provide a Black perspective. That’s what happened. How can it be bullshit to share a perspective (unless you believe that listening to and learning from a Black perspective is inherently bullshit which, if that’s the case, you’re really starting your racial literacy journey at too high a level). The only qualifiers to this perspective, which Whitney ALREADY NAMED are that she is coming from a straight, cis female perspective and perhaps another Black person with different identity markers might have different views.

    • JB
      JB says:

      Jay, the entirety of the rest of Penelope’s blog is “equal time” (really more than equal time since it’s almost entirely written by white people) to the non-Black perspective. There’s also plenty of debates about racism elsewhere on the internet if that’s specifically what you’re looking for.

  6. Cam
    Cam says:


    Every word she said.

    Though, there are a small minority of black people who do get to choose their own paths, we are also deeply engaged in social equity because white supremacy doesn’t stop when you gain agency/access/money.

    Beautiful work Whitney + Penelope. Invigorating. I think I’ll include this example in the guide I’m releasing for Protest From Home.

    Thank you,

  7. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    thank you Whitney. For some reason I read the blog today after having given up long ago due to the assholeness that penelope seems so proud of. Thanks for loving enough to write this wonderful analysis.

      • Marie
        Marie says:

        Damn. I wish somebody would give ME credit. Have to do super EXTRA to get the bare minimum. And who knew? All I had to do was have a blog that presents only ONE point of view all the time for YEARS that extrapolate to be the whole worlds POV as well, except for one teeny tiny blog where I invite a different perspective. And wow. I can get credit. Pats on the back. Support. Empathy. Compassion. WOW. Just ONE post. Not having really done anything. Ok. Duly noted.

  8. Jessie Lewis
    Jessie Lewis says:

    Thanks so much to Whitney for your time and commentary. It’s jarring to realize how some things I might accept as normal/standard are just more examples of my own privilege at work. I learned a lot by reading this.

    And thanks Penelope for being open to this kind of feedback so the rest of us can learn.

  9. Rob
    Rob says:

    “Must be nice. In my experience, the luxury of working from home with your kids is reserved primarily for White women. Because motherhood and child-rearing are generally disrespected in this country, and any sort of real honoring of that labor goes solely to White women.”

    I’m a man and have been homeschooling my four children for nearly ten years. I feel like I’m supposed to apologize for something, but I’m not sure what. To say that this is a life reserved for white women is a view seen from such a narrowly biased lens … would be an understatement. We started with nothing. We lived with nothing but made the commitment to raise our family a certain way. We struggle just like everyone else. It never occurred to me that I would need to feel guilty about. But, I see that’s where this is going. I’m now being told to apologize for my wife for being successful on her own merits (think about that for a while … ) not because she’s successful and worked her butt off but … because she’s white.

    I will also add that one of the most vocal homeschool groups here in Texas are black moms. I know this is going to be uncomfortable, but their group is large, vocal, and they proudly talk about what it’s like being often without money and still able to find ways to homeschool. The message here is almost denial that this can even be done because of racial barriers. Yet, everyone I know applauds the sacrifice since most of us make it every day. This idea that homeschoolers are all a bunch of rich white women is stupid and, frankly, racist. Homeschoolers are black, white, and racially/socioeconomically everything in between.

  10. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    I really am against this sort of “anti-racism”. I don’t think it’s productive. If Penelope thinks it is, that is her right, but I’m disappointed that she feels the need to do this. Penelope has always written from a perspective of privilege, because we all have our own “intersectional” privileged and disadvantages. Whitney is Ivy League educates, that’s a huge privilege. What exactly is the point of this post? Penelope, you have a right to live and raise your kids and think how you want, and you’re certainly not racist. So good for you for wanting to self reflect, but this post is going to make me wary of your thinking from now on.

  11. Kena
    Kena says:

    I have to agree; I have always found Penelope very out-of-touch I just thought it’s cause I live in a different continent. It’s like reading a novel most of the time.

  12. Etienne
    Etienne says:

    I normally don’t comment. I intended to remain content with snapping and nodding bc this is good stuff. But she dropped Cedric Robinson “Black Marxism” so I have to chime in and second the motion that all people explore his articulation of “racial capitalism”, which in many ways converges with James Baldwin’s notion that “I am not your nigger.” (That said, Black Marxism is some heavy and dense political theory, likely above the pay grade of most folks who are not patient) All this to say, if white people really want to explore the nuances of racism and white supremacy, you can go waaaay deeper than DiAngelo’s “White Fragility.”

  13. Mimi
    Mimi says:

    I agree with many of Whitney’s comments, but I must ask: is there ever room for a writer to express their own experience, however privileged it is, without having to repeatedly apologize for the privilege? I get that it’s important to have awareness, but at what point is someone allowed to be themselves, and just share their own perspective without being shamed for it? Would a disclaimer at the top of Penelope’s page (for example: I realize that as a white, upper middle class, educated woman I am privileged in ways that many in society and in most of the world are not, and I apologize for anything I write that consciously or unconsciously emphasizes that privilege. I also work to elevate others who are less privileged by doing xyz, here are links to those organizations and what I’m doing to help…). We are censoring and creating self-censorship when we try to call out every infraction in which a person might demonstrate privilege.

    Second question – are we trying for a Marxist/communist society? We live in THE MOST CAPITALIST COUNTRY ON THE PLANET. Money is certainly the root of most privilege, and I’m just curious if in Whitney’s (and Penelope’s) opinions, we should create a nonviolent Marxist revolution? If so, how would this work to ensure equity/equality, and how do you explain the absolute failure of every other socialist/communist experiment in all of history?

    I’m not trying to start a debate, I’m truly eager to hear thoughts on this from those who have, perhaps, a clearer or deeper understanding of the ideas here.

    • middashmod
      middashmod says:

      I didn’t hear Penelope apologizing nor did I hear Whitney demand an apology. It sounded like a healthy useful debate and most importantly for all of us white readers, a rousing and important education. By the way, taking offense on being told that we (whites) have an enormous privilege in America, is in itself a racist response. Better to just listen and accept that this is truth and probably a new and ugly (hard to accept) revelation. It feels bad to realize we are all racists, simply by definition of being white and living in a country built on 401 years of white suppression of Blacks, beginning with slavery. Just try to accept it and continue the conversation and maybe at some point the inequality can be eased and possibly the hate that accompanies it can (god help us) someday exit our society. Most critically we must put ourselves in the shoes of Blacks in their everyday lives which are NOT AT ALL like ours, but most of us have NO IDEA about this. eg. Do you fear any male in your family being killed by police every time they leave home? Are you followed around and watched every time you shop? Do you fear for your life being stopped by police? These are only a few examples of how another person’s life is vastly different from your own simply due to the color of their skin and probably things you would NEVER accept in your life!

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      White privilege and systemic racism absolutely exist. At the same time, if Penelope’s blog doesn’t interest readers who don’t relate to her lifestyle, they can scroll on by to find something more to their liking. Unless you are homeless and starving, there is always somebody who could complain they have it worse than you. Penelope has Asperger’s, but she probably doesn’t troll other blogs to comment “must be nice to be neurotypical, asshole.”

    • Ibtisaam
      Ibtisaam says:

      Incorrect. The USA exhibits the worst features of Capitalism (astronomical levels of wealth unrelated to effort or initiative (the stock market, banking etc.) and the worst features of socialism (perverse incentives through social grants (poor family formation) and studying advanced degrees in fields for which there is no market demand). Hence the incessant debate, in which both sides have valid points.

  14. sterntaler
    sterntaler says:

    Dear Penelope,
    I read your blog since years and I found your thoughts about women and the workforce always interesting.
    But this is complete woke bullshit. There is no white privilege, there is just hard work. And if you like communism so much – please go to Venezuela.
    Sorry, you lost track completely.
    I unsusbscibed.

    • Etienne
      Etienne says:

      These comments will also prove Penelope’s point in the need to post this article and unearth this discourse. Thank you.

    • delphine
      delphine says:

      Maybe if the expression were “black disadvantage” rather than “white privilege” would you start to understand that it does not mean that *all* whites are priviledged but that *all* blacks face hardship due to their skin colour (and that it can also apply to other non-white).

    • Ibtisaam
      Ibtisaam says:

      This comment reminds me of a white South African male born in 1980 who absolutely insists he has not benefitted one iota from “white privilege”. I just can’t.

  15. Rob
    Rob says:

    I normally don’t comment either … this was a very interesting piece and well done Penelope for publishing it. I read it through twice. I’m sorry, but you could replace the word ‘Black’ with ‘Working Class White’ in every sentence and the issues raised would still be valid. We really need to raise all the (less entitled) boats together, rather than all the black ones or all the white ones.

    • D
      D says:

      Sort of… The GI Bill, the most successful program of wealth creation in American history, excluded almost all Black people.

      And redlining still goes on today. Own a home is how the vast majority of people create wealth. Not being allowed to buy one in a neighborhood that is appreciating directly impacts generational wealth transfer.

      • Marie
        Marie says:

        Thank you. White people NEVER ABSOLUTELY NEVER acknowledge how they have been and CURRENTLY are given a leg up that excludes Black people in the US. They SHOULD feel ashamed. The practices of redlining and gentrification and building ALL the freeways in this country through Black and brown neighborhoods is WELL documented. Not allowing us to benefit from the GI bill that allowed white families to prosper and rebuild after the war is DISGUSTING. not paying tribute to the Black women & men (and Native Americans for that manner) who served is also awful and shameful. Bankrupting then public school system ON PURPOSE. Food deserts. Omg. I could go on and on.

        But of course they can’t admit it. When you personally benefit from another’s oppression how can you feel in your heart of hearts you are a good person? You CANT.

  16. Joe
    Joe says:

    A Black friend gave me a copy of Jason Riley’s book, “False Black Power?” Wondering if anyone who’s read it would care to comment? Mr Riley posits that post Civil War and through Jim Crow, Black families prospered—despite brutal racism. He agrees (of course!) that the Civil Rights Movement and the Voter Rights Act were absolutely necessary. Without them, greater prosperity would not be possible. But he has theories (based on peer-reviewed, accepted research) on why Black communities faltered in the 1960s and 70s, after almost 100 years of intact families and job growth. He says that because this point of view impacts the way we frame racism and describe its complex causes in America, it doesn’t really get discussed in current forums.

    I am reading this book with an open mind and am curious if anyone has opinions on this book.

    • Debbie
      Debbie says:

      I have come across Jason Riley’s work as well, though I haven’t read the book. I also recommend Coleman Hughes, Shelby Steele, John McWhorter, and of course the great Thomas Sowell who are black intellectuals exploring the same topics

  17. 499lake
    499lake says:

    I am reading this on My first day of giving up Diet Pepsi. So I am probably cranky and on edge. But another
    Post like this and I will hit the unsubscribe button.
    I lived in Charleston SC and watched appalling acts of racism everyday.
    I think focusing on police violence is worthy. But better healthcare for every single black persons would yield a much greater benefit for every child woman and man who is black in America.

  18. lisa
    lisa says:

    Penelope, have you ever listened to Jordan Peterson’s lecture on white privilege, and what do you think of it? It’s on YouTube if you search for it. He argues that white privilege does not exist. it is confused with a majority privilege (and oftentimes wealth privilege), but white privilege as itself does not exists because this “privilege” of being part of the majority extends in other countries as well.

      • Joe
        Joe says:

        What other topics did you hear him speak on? Do you remember? I happen to really like him but I might not be familiar with the things you’ve heard him talk about.

    • Virginia Franklin
      Virginia Franklin says:

      Yes, it extends to white people in other countries too. Like South Africa. white are the minority but certainly have power over the majority..

    • Caitlin
      Caitlin says:

      Jordan peterson is the shit. He turned my life around and cured my nihilistic outlook on life. Anyone who wants to write him off, hasn’t listened to ENOUGH of his lectures. He is, at root, a psychologist. The best lecture to start with is “slaying the dragon within us”

  19. Maria Miccoli
    Maria Miccoli says:

    Wow, just wow, I couldn’t even finish reading this mess. The only thing missing, Penelope was a baseball bat so she could beat you with it.

    First, I know PLENTY of professional, educated black individuals who are respectful of their persons and those around them. They make no excuses. Some I have known for over 20 years. NEVER have any of them set any building on fire, shot anyone, beat anyone, nor insulted anyone. They don’t need to. There are plenty of successful black professionals who PUBLICLY distance themselves from the BLM narrative and agenda when it was observed that destruction follows it everywhere.

    You need to protect yourself from these mentally ill predators. Including your guest writer.

    Like you Penelope, My mother was abusive. I was overly protective of my child and wanted to give my child every opportunity that she could have. I was poor, but a loving parent who made choices to provide for my child. I learned to find working opportunities from home so I could home school my child through high school. Like you, I downsized, gave up other career opportunities that did not fit my choices with homeschooling my child and moved to a location that was healthier for us. Behind the computer, we are the same color and have access to the same opportunities.

    Don’t let this mentally ill, manipulative PARASITE convince you that you are doing anything wrong and drive you to depression and feelings of shame and guilt. I don’t know what paper mill she bought her degree from, but based on her writing, she didn’t earn it.

    It’s not about white privilege,because there are so many black families that are wealthy and raising their children in a financially stable household, making sure to provide them with every opportunity possible. They are black sports professionals, business professionals, and media professionals and don’t make excuses for THEIR PRIVILEGES. Often they explain it’s NOT about color but about CULTURE. They were often ostracized for working so hard, for studying so hard, for having good grades, for trying so hard by their own peers.

    Don’t compete with the lowest denominator. Don’t let this PARASITE destroy you. She is abusive. She is out of line. She is bat shit crazy!



    • Etienne
      Etienne says:

      You sound like you live in a very segregated neighborhood.

      This line is among your best – “There are plenty of successful black professionals who PUBLICLY distance themselves from the BLM narrative and agenda when it was observed that destruction follows it everywhere.”

      This is a close second – “Don’t compete with the lowest denominator. ”

      Bravo. You rehearse familiar racist tropes and embrace right-wing populist views, likely without even realizing it. Even more, you glorify the very ethic of capitalism (hierarchy and competition under a neoclassical economic conception of human nature as individualistic and driven solely by self-interests) that is to blame for much of our current state of affairs in America (a deep wealth gap and gross inequities that are collapsing our economy by the day, beginning with the housing markets as evictions increase).

      Instead of competing, we should be exploring new ways to work together as citizens and reimagine citizenship and democracy.

      • Maria Miccoli
        Maria Miccoli says:

        I wasn’t asking for permission nor to have my response analyzed. Unlike Penelope, I don’t cater to crazy self centered trolls.

        But when you beat down a single mom who is just trying to survive and raise her kids as best she could (because when you are on her blog you are IN HER HOUSE) You show her this much disrespect, she needs to have people in her corner to defend her.

        SHE EARNED THROUGH RISK AND HARD WORK all the good things that came to her and SHE SUFFERED tremendously to get where she is. Don’t crush her with your hate. She has EVERY RIGHT to enjoy the fruits of her labor and take charge in her children’s success.

        Only ignorant trolls who failed in History class would think they are entitled to anything including disrespecting others.

        There’s no excuse. You don’t get a pass on this one.

        Finally, having seen what kind of psychopath your guest writer is, I wouldn’t be surprised if she posted using multiple fake profiles to go with her fake degrees.

        Penelope, you meant well, but you made a mistake in choosing this crazy psychopath. There are plenty of REAL educated black male and female successful professionals who could have done a better job. Maybe reaching out to them (like black professionals in the media sports, technology) would serve a better purpose.

    • adunate
      adunate says:

      Mentally ill, manipulative PARASITE? Really? Isn’t such name calling rather childish? I was taught that resorting to personal degradation in order to debate a point is the foremost sign of low class and intellect. Please show us you’re better than that.

    • Markisha
      Markisha says:

      Wow Maria. That really hit a nerve in you. You might want to unpack that.

      Asé Whitney. I felt all of that.

  20. Sammy
    Sammy says:

    I’m an African/European person. I’ve lived in 9 countries across two continents. I have a multi racial and multi cultural family from 10 different countries. I married someone from a different country and cultural background and we are bringing up our children to value and identify with both cultures (in fact all cultures). I have friends from many countries ethnicities and religions. I was both brought up on government welfare but also at times have had periods of both relative wealth and proximity to power. I come from a stable nuclear family structure but one with significant abuse and mental health issues. I’ve received racism and prejudice at different times and in different countries for my looks my ethnicity my nationality or my gender as have other members of my family with different looks ethnicities and genders. We have received racism and prejudice collectively from both white and black people separately for having a multi racial family as well as support for this. The lived experiences of many around the world do not fit in with the black/white dichotomy and narrative of white privilege/guilt in America. I think it’s a shame that more voices coming out of Africa -a black majority continent of over a billion people- are not being heard at this point in time. The experience of black American women is not the experience of all black women however much America sees itself as the centre of the world and we can’t draw conclusions for all black people on the basis of the experiences of black Americans we need to hear a multiplicity of voices.

    • Marie
      Marie says:

      What in the world is this ridiculous comment about?? Do you not understand that BLACK LIVES in the US are in DANGER??!! that whyte inferiority (I call it what it really is) is KILLING US?? What about this don’t you understand? Or why don’t you just flat out say you don’t care then? This is not about multiculturalism. I too married someone from a different culture and country. So what?! What difference does that make? How is that contributing to the conversation about SYSTEMIC RACISM IN THE US? Because that is the TOPIC.

      Last I checked Penelope is white and lives in the states. So it’s relevant and appropriate that it is focused in the US. you feel left out? Then have that convo in YOUR country. I’ve lived in other places in the world too so I KNOW it’s relevant wherever Black people in the diaspora are located. But you keep thinking you’re different & special just because you’re sleeping with someone outside your race and culture. News flash: you’re not.


      If you don’t give a damn, don’t comment.

  21. LE
    LE says:

    Thank you Whitney!
    This is the voice going on in my head as I read Penelope’s posts every time! So heartened to know I’m not the only one.
    Also, the collective ‘We’ that are being educated by this post that some commenters are using is very problematic: ‘We’ is white privileged people that automatically positions everyone not white privileged as not part of the audience. Speak for yourself or other privileged white people but don’t apply it to a We. The invisibility of whiteness is part of what makes it so durable .

  22. todd
    todd says:

    It seems like White Privilege is a Kafka trap-if you deny it you are only more guilty. Why can’t we aim for a society where de jure discrimination is pursued vigorously rather than chasing ghosts?

    You’re telling me what I think and what I believe. If you want to know what I think, you can ask me. If you want to tell me about your own biases and prejudices, I’ll listen.

    But it’s not appropriate for me to tell you what you think. It’s not fair to assign me an opinion about other people. You don’t know me. And I won’t agree with you making assumptions about my beliefs.

    It seems like the very epitome of racism-making assumptions based upon “lookism.”

    Oh, and aside from its logical inconsistency, dwelling on ethnic grievances doesn’t lead to a successful society. If it did, the Middle East would be the most peaceful place on earth.

    It is profoundly disappointing that this philosophy has taken hold in the world. I think quite a lot of PT and I am disappointed that she has gone down this path.

  23. carrie
    carrie says:

    I’m sorry, COMMUNIST? Penelope, do you agree the US should go COMMUNIST?

    Have you read communist histories? Have you read the Gulag Archipelago? Nobel-prize winning book because it exposed what communism really is? It’s a horror show.

    Whatever problems we have in the US, they are FAR BETTER than the problems of life in a communist country.

    How many people do you know who dream about spending the rest of their days in Russia when they retire?

    • Etienne
      Etienne says:

      While I do not think the point of Penelope’s post is to promote communism, please do not conflate totalitarianism (a political order driven by racism; i.e. Hitler’s crew) to communism, a theory of political economy that seeks to transfer ownership of property to the public (via government). Further, a lot of the historical rhetoric against communism as a political theory came during a time when it served US interests, both domestically and abroad, to exalt capitalism. And lastly, what the most Left politicians of today are advancing – what might be called a democratic “socialism” – is actually very different than pure communism. Notwithstanding, broad resistance to discussing the merits of communism actually has more to do with white supremacy than you think.

      • Ibtisaam
        Ibtisaam says:

        Capitalism is waaay better than Communism. Communism obliterates human initiative and creativity. Government becomes all-powerful and everyone jostles to come closer to the trough to feed on the tidbits, which is the case in many African countries. In any event, there are not only just two economic systems.

      • carrie
        carrie says:

        The hell? “Merits of communism?”

        A lot of historical rhetoric against communism comes from people who have lived to tell the tale.

        To put it simply, any huge government like socialism/communism (yes theoretically communism ends with no government, but HAHAHA to that) will be MORE corrupt than we already have, NOT less.

        • carrie
          carrie says:

          Also, sneaking the word “democratic” into a socialist/communist construct has already been tried, in East Berlin with the “German Democratic Republic (GDR)” which described itself as a socialist worker’s state and in which thousands escaped by going over the wall in a hot air balloon, under the wall through tunnels, or just plowing through the wall with vehicles, so desperate were they to get out.

  24. Sandi
    Sandi says:

    This is amazing, insightful, and exactly the sort of thing we need right now. Thank you for sharing it.

  25. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    I really appreciated Whitney’s comments and how she challenges us to rethink our assumptions and privileges. Does Whitney have a blog or Facebook page that I can follow? I’d love to continue to learn her perspective on our culture and these times.

    • Katarina
      Katarina says:

      Response to Jen and Penelope:

      Thank you. If my comment is helpful instead of a nuisance, please keep it up. Whatever you think is best.

  26. Dylan Tweney
    Dylan Tweney says:

    This is a really good critique. Brave of you to offer it in your newsletter. Thank you, and thank you to Whitney too for bringing a no-holds-barred reaction even though (perhaps because!) she is clearly a good friend of yours!

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Dylan, thank you for posting this comment – and for recognizing that Whitney and I both had to trust each other to make this post happen. But I also want to say that I have only known Whitney for a few weeks. I met her because she emailed me after this post:

      Whitney wrote, “Your analysis of systemic racism is weak and useless.” That caught my attention. It’s such pointed criticism. She took time to explain her criticism of me and she included her phone number in case I wanted to call her. I called her right away.

      At this point I’ve talked with her a lot. But I didn’t realize that Whitney and I are friends until I read Dylan’s comment. I guess we are friends, now. But I want everyone to know that it’s safe to have a conversation about race with someone you just met. I learned that from Whitney.


  27. Jane
    Jane says:

    Hi. Just imagine if White was capitalized and black wasn’t. Let’s have equity and capitalize both before we decide that racial tags are stupid and just barricade us in our separate enclaves. I don’t know any humans who are black or white. What happened to Caucasian and African American ?
    And here’s a final irony– has our ‘guest blogger’ been paid for her efforts? I would suspect not. Thus perpetuating the privileged status of the blogger.
    When will we be ‘woke’ enough. Isn’t this exercise in ‘cancel culture’ tiresome yet?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      The reason we don’t have equity with capitalization is that we don’t have equity with race. No matter who you are or what your circumstances are, if you are white you are better off than if you are Black. White people are in no position to say everyone should be treated equally after treating Black people poorly for 400 years.

      Also, I am reposting the link to the Associated Press explanation of why Black is capitalized and white is not. It’s a great explanation — elegant and informative.


  28. Karen
    Karen says:

    Is she paid for this guest post? I am not asking because that might influence the content, I am asking because you make money by coaching, which you get because you are relevant, and right now you are being relevant because W is writing stuff/doing work for you.

    So I was curious about that.

    • JB
      JB says:

      I had this same curiosity. My inclination is to say that even if guest bloggers here typically aren’t paid, there should be some consideration of whether doing a thoughtful race critique was perhaps harder and rather more difficult than what other guest bloggers do, and thus should get some form of compensation.

  29. Katarina
    Katarina says:

    I’d like to share something with Whitney and ask a very sincere question.

    I don’t tell this to people as I am private and since no one here knows me, I am still anonymous in this effort. I spend time at homeless shelters on a regular basis. I am involved in a a variety of ways which I will not get into here, except to mention that when my son was younger, I used to bring him, as well, as we would help take care of the children who were in a playroom while their mothers were in classes. I also go to shelters with almost all men, and the people at these shelters happen to be all Black. This is something that is part of my life for years. I don’t go there because I am trying to make a special point about serving Black people. I go there because I cannot *not* go, because I care too much about the people. I have a heavy heart, because my brother is a homeless person. Do you have a homeless brother or sister? It is a very painful story, as you can imagine. I go there because I see all the people there as my brother and sister. I go there because it is the only way I can help my brother. I call everyone I see brother and sister. I literally see them as my brothers and sisters. One Christmas Eve, I was sitting with one man and he was saying that he hadn’t seen his family in 20 years. I haven’t seen my brother in nearly 25 years at that point. He told me how he missed them. How he prays for them, He told me that just saying their names was a blessing. I never forgot that…I think of it so often, how just the privilege of saying someone’s name, someone you love, is a blessing. I had such a beautiful time there.

    Is there something in terms of white supremacy that I am doing wrong here? I am asking you honestly. If my presence there is wrong, or if I am doing something wrong, I need to know. I do not pat myself on the back. I am not some hero. Many people are taking care of my brother. I am trying to do something for the sons and brothers of heartbroken parents and siblings. You see, people with a homeless loved one also have a bond, and race takes a back seat for me in that. I just know the pain…the grief…because homelessness comes with a painful backstory of horrific proportions.

    I have to use my time on this earth wisely. My brother is everywhere around me ..and when I know I need to “see” my brother, I reach out…and I believe that others are doing that for my lost brother.

    Say to me whatever you think you need to say. I can take anything. If I am wrong to be there, if I was wrong to share this with you, if I am wrong to think that I can make a difference, whatever is wrong with me, please tell me. No one at the shelters I go to have told me I am doing something wrong or that my intentions are ultimately self-serving or for showcasing myself. If I am doing a disservice because I am white and the people I am with are black, I honestly want to know that. Maybe I shouldn’t go. Maybe I should contribute in ways that are not personal.

    I hope you don’t have any homeless people in your family. Our family has lived with this pain for 35 years (he came back once for a short visit). The pain never goes away. It never disappears. And I don’t care if the people are mentally ill or not. My brother became severely mentally ill.

    I’m just a person in this world trying to get through the day and figure out how to love people more. I understand that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, so please tell me if I am wrong. I really want to know your opinion. I will be sure to share it with others.

  30. TJ
    TJ says:

    Please feel free to ignore my stupid question from a European who lives thousands of miles away, but… I understand racism in the form of direct discrimination, and I also understand a subconscious bias. I also see that Penelope is, from my point of view and compared to me, very privileged. And I understand that black people (or PoC? what’s the right term these days?) had less chance to accumulate wealth for many reasons, most of all racism, and so on average have less wealth than other groups of people.
    But most of the points are referring still referring to a disbalance of wealth, and I don’t see the difference between someone who is black and poor, and somebody who is just poor. Would a white person from a dirt poor family be able to homeschool? Would a recent white immigrant from eastern europe have a 400 year head start (BTW, at least 50 of these years were in communism, seems like it didn’t work out)?
    And if not, why make this about race? Penelope has not only privilege over many (I guess not all) black people, but over all poor people. I don’t see the need to create a racial divide when this is something all underprivileged people could work on together.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This is a really good question, TJ. And I asked Whitney the same question. Now I understand better. Here’s what I know.

      My family is Jewish, but in the early 1900s we changed our last name to sound less Jewish to get around Harvard’s quotas for Jews. My family was able to pass as non-Jews because they were white, and that enabled my family to accumulate generations of wealth by getting into top universities.

      I graduated from college with no debt, which is a result of the accumulated wealth in my family. Black people did not have a chance to accumulate generations of wealth. My lack of college debt allowed me to work only three hours a day and get myself onto the professional beach volleyball tour. My success as one of the women on the all-white beach volleyball tour attracted other benefits.

      For example, I got a white boyfriend who was in charge of new media for Philips — the precursor for the Internet. He taught me everything I would need to know to get a great job in the early Internet. The team that launched the second online ordering system with me was all white. We all had some way to learn about the Internet from someone who was very well connected in the technology and academic worlds. And both those worlds were all white.

      I launched three startups. In each case, I had to charm a white man in order to nail down funding. As a female founder in the 90s I was in a tight circle of women who helped each other all the time. I never even heard of a black female founder until 2005. The startup community required all the trappings of white privilege that I have listed — no college debt, family money as a safety net, and a network of white people to help you.

      When I had children I took tons of risks. I insisted on staying home with my kids so they could have all the benefits of a fulltime mom. So we had no money for three years. Literally no money and often no food. There are many Black women in that position. But we know they did not have the background I had and the resources I had to figure out how to earn money.

      This is how white people go through life with advantages we don’t even see. I didn’t even think about the fact that everyone was white in my career. I told myself I don’t care what race people are. But of course, I never cared what race people are: I was the race that was getting all the privilege.


      • Etienne
        Etienne says:

        To be sure, resolving issues of class in American will go a long way toward addressing the implications of racial hierarchy on the lives of many Americans. But a poor white person who works hard to become the first person in their family to go to college – although commendable and an example of the American Dream – will never know what it feels like to grow up poor and black and become the first person in their family to go to college and find oneself sitting in a class of 100 white students and you – an example of the American nightmare. Put another way, one can escape poverty as a white person in America, but can a poor black person escape race by just working hard? Look, there are books on this stuff.

      • TJ
        TJ says:

        Penelope, you are basically talking about the luck you had because of the environment you were born in. I understand that, statistically speaking, black people are likely to have less luck in the ‘birth lottery’ than the average white person. Yet there are millions of people of all colors who are not african-american, but born into an environment that’s worse than the average african-american environment. Why would you want to exclude them? Wouldn’t that create resentment in them?

        • Etienne
          Etienne says:

          Excluded from what? Resent who?

          Let’s unpack what you are feeing because it is so important.

          I submit to you, is the fear of exclusion and resentment rational, or is it a byproduct of racism itself?

          Remember, white supremacy is designed to separate us into factions to sustain a capitalist systems that relies upon class difference to work.

          What if helping folks in need or ppl who have been hurt creates joy? What if there is enough good will for everyone? What if we all can win?

    • Tatyana Davis
      Tatyana Davis says:

      Thank you for articulating the question that bothered me so eloquently. As a first-generation white immigrant from Eastern Europe, I experienced both the obstacles stemming from not having generational wealth and stepping into white privilege in America. Due to my European looks, I was able to blend in and take advantage of preferential treatment even while I was shackled by poverty and lack of any network. A black person cannot blend in no matter how financially successful they might be. And the intersection of social resources and systemic racists stereotypes bothers me. Which is primary at the present moment? How to match appropriate solutions to the appropriate problems?

      • Debbie
        Debbie says:

        Tatyana, I have to disagree with your comment “a black person cannot blend in no matter how financial successful they might be”. It hasn’t been my experience at all. I am not only a black woman but grew up in Africa and only moved to the US at 19. I’m 26 now, working in a very white and male field, and my skin color is not something I think about often at all, or something that I feel has affected my ability to feel connected and welcome at work. My parents are quite well-off financially and I guess my privileged upbringing is partly responsible for my level of confidence, but I’ve also found the vast majority of people in the US workplace (white collar jobs at least) are decent, welcoming, and treat me like everyone else.

        I think class is a much much bigger privilege/ disadvantage than race. If you asked any well-off black person if they would rather be even 30% poorer or would rather be white in 2020, I bet 99.9% would choose staying black. White privilege is exaggerated.

  31. Ann
    Ann says:

    ‘White people are in no position to say everyone should be treated equally after treating Black people poorly for 400 years’. Correct. But binary thinking and false dichotomies don’t serve us. As Katarina is pointing out, Black people do not have a monopoly on suffering and there are many sources of suffering, with racial injustice being a serious one. Black lives matter and so do the lives of the mentally ill, the starving, the stateless, the addicted and the abused, regardless of race.

    Whitney’s racial status does not give her a monopoly on the truth – perhaps some of her thinking will become more nuanced with the passage of time.

    ‘The luxury of working from home with your kids is reserved primarily for White women.’ I am a white female teacher tutoring from home. Are you saying a black female teacher couldn’t do this? Why not?
    ‘You’re an asshole for being excited about this’. This is crazy! Would you be an asshole, Whitney, for feeling excited about, for example, looking hot in that top you’re wearing, knowing there are flat-chested less attractive women around who are in agony about how they look (or is it just not okay to SAY it? If that’s what you mean, well, you’re probably right, but this is a tell-all blog).
    ‘What a beautiful luxury. Your kids get a schooling experience that is tailored to their individual growth’ What has this got to do with race? Very few kids get this, regardless of race.
    ‘Learning to identify their own interests?? Do you know how much of a luxury this is? Do you know how many Black people die without ever coming close to being able to experience this?’ Very few people get this luxury, black or white. Do you know how many of my working class family died without being able to experience this?
    What planet are you on, Whitney?

    • Ann
      Ann says:

      Penelope responded to my comment but deleted her response. I’m not sure why, because the response was helpful to me and my developing understanding (though it was a little patronizing!)

      It made me think of the critical theory paradigm as I understand it at the moment.

      Is the idea that any pleasure or aspiration a white person may have is necessarily harmful to persons of colour? With the corollaries that any pleasures or dreams a man may have is necessarily harmful to women, any pleasure or aspiration a middle-class person has is necessarily harmful to working class people, and any pleasure a heterosexual person has is necessarily harmful to LGBTIQ people, any pleasure an able bodied person….

      I understand Marxist theory enough to see how this is arguably true and the paradigm invites us to look at political structures and even the structures of thought. And that can only be good.

      Penelope suggested I might be scared to admit the privilege I have enjoyed as a white person. I am not aware of this fear. Whites are in the middle (or perhaps near the end) of a period of huge historical advantage and are guilty of crimes against humanity. I went to university and got a job with very little effort. I know I am a beneficiary of centuries of white supremacy.
      But does my being a beneficiary of white privilege mean that I cannot experience pleasure in life or have any aspirations? I cannot accept that as a human being, because of the way I experience myself, as we all do, at the purest level of humanity as a ‘child’ of whatever we think god is.

      It’s about paradigms.

      If I have got the critical theory paradigm wrong I would love someone to let me know.
      I admit to being a liberal. I am a liberal not because liberalism is perfect but because I think it’s the best paradigm we’ve got. I believe in affirmative action.

      If I’ve understood the critical theory and for argument’s sake accept it, I would like a person of colour to tell me what I should do. What action should I take as a white person?

      • Marie
        Marie says:

        Sigh. Ok. Look. STOP. do not ask a Black person to tell you what to do. You’re totally capable of looking within (at least as much as Penelope has) and figuring it out for yourself. Google. Get some books. At least start. Damn. The emotional labor you expect Black people to do for you is EXHAUSTING and of itself racist. We dont exist to make life better or more understandable for you. Do your own work. Do your own research.

        • Ann Stanley
          Ann Stanley says:

          I have read James Baldwyn, Eldridge Cleaver, Harper Lee, Karl Marx. Malcom X. I live in Australia where Aboriginal people have a life expectancy of 58. I don’t expect anybody to do emotional work for me Marie. The question I ask is a political one. (The answers to such questions are not always found in looking within. Politics is about conflict of ideas and dialogue about them) And I still ask it. I have been asking it since I was about 16. I am 58. I have been dealing with alcoholism and mental illness in my family, including in my children. i have worked as a teacher of kids of every race. I suppose part of the answer is that I am not responsible for race relations in the US. If you look within, you might find that you do not know the answer to my question and perhaps that is why you are so angry that I have asked it.

  32. Bart
    Bart says:

    This may have been the most entertaining post by Penelope so far. Just Hilarious. Ivy-League educated woman calling out privilege. She’s probably more privileged than 95% of the entire world.

    From my perspective, Whitney is just a racist hiding behind the color of her skin. Anytime you make whole-scale assumptions or judgements on a race of people you are actually being racist yourself. This is such an ignorant childish worldview. There are white supremacists. And there are black supremacists. There are decent white people and there are decent black people. There are privileged black people and there are unprivileged white people.

    I judge EVERYONE based on the content of their character. That’s it. To judge someone based on the color of their skin is racist, bigoted, and ignorant.

    I read blogs like this to try and get a more complete understand of all sides. Something I wish everyone would do. This post would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad.

    • Lisa
      Lisa says:

      lol You’re hilarious. I’m not going to waste a lot of time going into all the why’s, but I will challenge you. If black supremacists exist, please give an example of a system of domination that they’ve created to disenfranchise white (and other) people to the point those ppl’s very existence is in peril every single day. I’ll wait. Good luck.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Bart, the problem with your thinking is that it’s based on wishes rather than research. Every study that you can find will show you that no matter where someone is in society if they are white they do better than if they are Black. This is true in the Ivy League as well. When a white kid gets into an Ivy League college they get a bigger lift in society than if Black kid gets into an Ivy League college. I actually just wrote about this topic and there are lots of links to research for you to follow in this post:

      You’re right that there are decent white people and decent Black people. But in our society, decent white people have lots of advantages. You saying that you don’t give them advantages means nothing. You are not the grand distributor of privilege. You do not magically make things equal by saying they should be equal. So your comment reads like you live in a fantasy world.

      I published this post so all of us who are white can work on getting outside of our fantasy where things are fair. Bart, when you say no one should judge people by color, you don’t sound noble. You sound scared that you will lose the advantage you have being white.


      • Bart
        Bart says:

        You wrote:
        ” Bart, when you say no one should judge people by color, you don’t sound noble. You sound scared that you will lose the advantage you have being white. ”

        One Simple Question: Do you agree or disagree with this statement:
        People be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin?

        Simple yes or no?

        • JB
          JB says:

          You’re missing clarity on your verb, Bart. Is your question:

          “People should be judged by … ”


          ” People are judged by …? ”

          The two have very different answers.

        • Marie
          Marie says:

          Stop hijacking Dr. King Jr. he was hated by whites when he was alive now he’d your poster boy. That was MLK’s wish. It isn’t REALITY. and you blindly repeating it doesn’t make it so either.

          Funny how you only focus on basically ONE sentence then try to beat everyone on the head with it like you’re an expert. What ELSE did MLK say? Do you even know? I noticed you ignored Lisa’s question. Go figure. Can’t find the Black supremacists who have systematically ripped everything from whites people and are continuing to kill them TODAY? Where’s your proof of this? No? Oh ok. Right. I didn’t think so.

  33. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    The problem I have with pieces like this is that you hold one person’s view up as the ideology of an entire group of people and it’s offensive (to me!), because it lacks the nuances that make POCs individuals. I think the piece would have been better if the title leaned more towards saying this is what Whitney, a black person, thinks of your blog instead assigning her blackness as her identity. It makes me wonder if you see Whitney as a person on the same level as yourself or are you propping Whitney up in your window so passerbys can see how “down” you are with the cause. The problem with Whitney is she suggest that there is a divide between “all black experiences” and “all white experiences” which is not wholly true. I have relatives who live a life of privilege like Whitney (and still battle racism in their own neighborhoods!) and others way on the other end of the spectrum blaming the white man for why they can’t get a break. What I notice for many is that the color of their skin is not the determinate factor of where they end up, but the personal choices they make in the paths they choose to follow.

    Whitney wrote:
    “Are you aware that for so many Black people in urban areas, this is literally impossible? This isn’t a rhetorical question. I can’t actually tell whether you have any awareness of that fact. I think you actually never think of these things due to white supremacy…”
    See it’s biases like this that boil my blood. Yes, white supremacists/bad cops make it a nightmare to drive/walk down the street/shop/dine out/breathe while being Black, BUT it has been my personal experience that Black children in urban areas are more likely to be attacked by their own when leaving the home then by outsiders. Why? Because the only ppl in those urban settings are BLACK PEOPLE! This delusional vision Whitney is spinning shows she’s either in denial or she has little awareness of the awareness she thinks you should have.

    Anyway, I’m not here to bash Whitney but methinks she gets the bulk of her info from proBlack websites and not actual experiences.

    Yes, white privilege is a problem in this country especially when it is grossly misused against other ppl who are only trying to level the playing field. A think piece on something like that would be more useful…as white ppl have been brainwashed to believe in their own superiority by the very same white ppl who are robbing them blind…instead of focusing on one privileged Black woman’s view of the world.

  34. Essie
    Essie says:

    After reading the article I thought of my own parents who were migrant workers growing up between CA, Colorado. The similarities between Hispanic community & black community. No opportunity, no ED for migrant workers, etc. However, my parents chose a different path in the way they looked at America. My dad never held grudges or felt someone somewhere owed him something for all the injustices he not only felt but actually happened to him that you & I would say were racist. He followed the path of working hard and didn’t raise us to look at color or told us we were different because of our skin color- thank goodness! And I know everyone has a different story to tell. So my perspective is one brown woman who chose a path of I guess you can say “Americanism” work hard, get your education (10 years to do) and pay it forward. And I don’t and won’t apologize for it. We are all made different and have different personalities, drives, character, etc. Some people are content where they are and some people spend their lifetime going after their dreams. So be it! I don’t blame anyone for my own choice of having a baby in high school. That was my decision based on the choices I made during that time and then I as a person had to deal with the consequences of that! Pointing fingers and doing the blame game doesn’t help anyone IMO. Have I ever felt anyone treat me differently because of my skin color- NO! Do I walk into stores thinking someone is following me, doesn’t cross my mind. Do I tell my Hispanic son to be careful when he drives, and when he is at stores because of his skin color, HECK NO! I have raised him to be a responsible, respectable, young man who is learning morals & values along the way. I rely on these attributes to keep my son out of trouble and not be a statistic in our society.

    Someone on here said show me a country that has survived & flourished under a Marist ideology. I haven’t traveled much, just Italy and Mexico and I still say USA is the greatest country in the world. NOT PERFECT, but we are working to better ourselves as a nation. Will the Evils in the world ever go away- Absolutely not, not as long as there are human beings still! It is up to you & I, regardless of skin color, religion, etc to go out & help our fellow man/woman who is hurting! Where we have failed in our society is humanity for other people especially in today’s market. I don’t begrudge anyone for making an honest living. What I do say, is our society has become greedier and no longer wants the white picket fence, but wants that 2nd or 3rd home and fancy cars to go along with it! We have forgotten our brothers & sisters along the way. If people at the top would see the value in one another and make sure people earned better wages, that would be a start! I don’t begrudge Penelope for wanting better for her boys. That is her right as a human being nor do I think her “white supremacy” is to blame either! It’s her motherly love for her boys that she wants to see her boys flourish and do well in society. And most mothers I know would do anything for the children. She is no exception! Stop feeling sorry for your whiteness. You are a beautiful lady who loves her boys to the moon & back, and oh yea, you happen to be white!

    • Etienne
      Etienne says:

      As Baldwin said, one’s love for America can be the very basis for their perpetual critique of America. I applaud your hard work. Absolutely, you deserve to reap the benefits of your ambition, as should anyone quite frankly. But now more than ever we must expand our imagination of what is possible for citizenship, especially in a day and age where Jeff Bezos just made around 15 billion in one day, a new record for him. Our failure to let go of the myth of American meritocracy (which has been used to justify ongoing racial hierarchy) enables a billionaire class bought on the backs of low-wage workers to thrive. Frankly, very few of us are actually “white supremacists.” The guilt is misplaced, and the presumption that Penelope feels bad about being white is flawed. Most white Americans are seduced by the simplicity of white supremacy (as an idea), which operates to unconsciously shape their everyday decisions and assumptions via cultural norms, what one might call “white privilege“ or implicit bias. But, the truth is, we ALL are being harmed by the idea of racial hierarchy. No one should feel sorry for simply being white or black. We should ALL feel sorry for being ignorant, apathetic, or ambivalent about the social implications of race and doing/saying/thinking nothing about it, especially if we have a platform. We have ALL lost sight of what it means to be a citizen, to exercise agency to shape sociopolitical life, to be part of a community. The worst part about the American Dream is that “dreaming” is a solitary action, but living is a communal endeavor. When your boat starts to sink, we all lose in some small way. I have silently celebrated Penelope’s efforts to care for her family and have also shed tears at her hardships, not because she is a great entrepreneur I want to mimic (although that’s probably the driver for some), but because I feel part of this community, which affords me space to listen and sympathize/empathize. Racial justice starts by tearing down walls and building community, not praising a market culture that celebrates competition and a winner-take-all mentality. We can do so much more than simply urge those at the top to pay higher wages to their employees. We can do so much more as a democracy than continue to urge our neighbors to simply “work hard, look I did it.” Marxism is certainly no panacea, but a democratic republic with seemingly unmitigated corporate political power is not much better. Being willing to grow publicly is not only an act or vulnerability, it’s an act of integrity, of honor.

  35. Karen
    Karen says:

    So what’s your point in all this, Penelope? Since you’re so wildly concerned with white privilege, why aren’t you doing anything about it in a quantifiable way, such as simply diverting your money from your son’s tutors to sponsoring tutors for an underprivileged child of color? Unless you don’t want to actually give up any privilege and merely want to hear yourself talk self-righteously?

    • Etienne
      Etienne says:

      I think there is room for more creativity in our solutions to racial injustice than suggestions that merely rehearse the heralded “white savior” narrative. Certainly, redistributive justice calls for our country to think critically about vehicles that transfer wealth (i.e. an inheritance tax or universal basic income). But asking Penelope to effectively “sponsor” a poor black kid comes across as not only disingenuous, but also lazy (offering a band-aid for a systemic issue). By merely facilitating this discourse (which has already caused some folks to unsubscribe), Penelope has taken steps toward resisting and dismantling white privilege, principally because a fundamental aspect of white privilege is the ability to boost one’s inter-group social status by engaging in actions that sustain race/class hierarchy. For example, racial segregation sustains white privilege by maintaining the narrative that predominantly white spaces diminish in value when they are diversified. In fact, by inviting a black woman’s voice onto her blog, some have already openly confessed that this “virtual” real estate has diminished in value in their eyes. If that’s not a step, I don’t know what is.

  36. Katarina
    Katarina says:

    Penelope and Whitney,

    I’m going to share this article and the comments with the director of the shelter I mentioned. He is a black man.

    I will be interested in hearing his response to my question for you.

    There is no doubt that there is racism in this country. There is no doubt that certain groups of people have much more power than others. There is no doubt that some people step on each other intentionally or unintentionally to get where they want to go.

    I wish everyone a good rest of the day.

  37. KS
    KS says:

    I think you ranted about Mr. Money Mustache a while back. I’d really love to see him do something like this. His blog is all about wealth building. But I have always felt like it is from a place of privilege. Maybe your example will be a challenge to him.

  38. Sean Crawford
    Sean Crawford says:

    I dimly recall that my school library held both Mein Kampf and Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Both gathered dust. No one was converted. The latter tome is real good, I read it both for real and the Readers Digest version, but I don’t think anyone in the digital age would be motivated to read it. If my child brought home any communist books, in print or comic book form, I wouldn’t worry. Besides, next week she could bring home Thomas Paine, or speeches of Lincoln. We have nothing to fear from free speech but fear itself. Neither do I fear reading Whitney.

    It was only after I moved out of home that my brother told me our mother was racist. I hadn’t known because she taught us not to be racist, and never said anything racist against people. You might call her a hypocrite, but I call her someone who taught us to be non racist.


    The Floyd incident broke my heart, I naively just want better police and think that corrupt deep blue police departments take their citizens for granted-after all, this is de jure discrimination and it involves better enforcement of the law. Can’t we solve this one issue? But, I naively put too much into the neutrality of law.

    And there is a lot more going here. Whole world-views are at stake.

    The shock of reading such strident comments forced me to consider the origins of Critical Race Theory and its notion of white privilege. If you accept CRT, many of Whitney’s comments become more understandable. CRT is based on the ideas that (and again I may not be completely right, but let’s keep this short):

    1) racism is ordinary and not aberrational,
    2) Our system of white over color ascendancy serves important purposes both physical and material,

    CRT thus suggests that legal rules have limited effect-i.e, the 14th amendment cannot bring about meaningful change. The system is more powerful than any law.

    Correlated with these two ideas is that the Constitution is itself is a Capitalist document incapable of bringing about redistributionist change necessary to create a more equal world. Marxists called this Critical Theory. The legal system must be endlessly criticized, thus the “critical” in the theory. The system must be torn down. Adding a race component to Critical Theory makes it Critical Race Theory. I was somewhat confused as to why Marxism and CRT and white privilege are mentioned in these posts, but I now have some idea of the link as redistribution begs a racial component given the current inequality of circumstances between races. In the CRT form of CR, race can be used alongside of class and its dialetics. It appears that all three of the above ideas have a common parent.

    So here is what it is about. Racism cannot be ended with the current system; the current system is a by-product and excuse for racism. Minority opinions are more relevant than white opinions since whites have an interest in maintaining control.

    If you accept the above world-view, the logic behind white privilege is sound and so are many of the statements that follow.

    The idea that MLK said race is arbitrary and a social construct doesn’t really fit the narrative, although I am sure some CRT theorists might accommodate him as minorities still have a unique but difficult status in society.

    To individuals raised on Enlightenment rationalism, legal reasoning, and the idea of neutrality in constitutional law, CRT attacks the very principles that these traditional believers possess about the system. Believers in CRT just see false promises and reject any enduring principles that are behind our current form of government.

    So, like so much in social science, it comes down to your initial assumptions about our system-false promises that will never be filled or a system based on Enlightenment principles that include some beliefs in human absolutes.

    I leave it up to students of history to determine what system has worked best in terms of freedom and economically viable lives. Since history doesn’t always repeat itself, CRT probably needs to explain why this time it is different as governments that don’t honor individual rights under the law in lieu of groups haven’t fared well. This is not to say that governments that attempt to honor individual rights are anywhere near perfect.

    But thanks. I think a lot of PT and her current stance here seemed very radical. My respect for her forced me to dig a little about what is going on here.

    • Etienne
      Etienne says:

      Your articulation of CRT and Critical Theory is somewhat flawed, but getting into such details is far beyond the scope of this post’s intent (better to just encourage folks to do their own reading). But, let me attempt to simply the issues in terms that are beneficial here – these “theories” are trying to discover the ideal social “philosophy” to guide a democratic society governed by laws. In other words, what moral principles should guide how we conceptualize the ideals of liberty and equality that comprise what it means to be a citizen. What does it mean to be free, yet also not interfere with the freedom of another citizen, in a way that is ultimately equal? If you go back, way back, the moral principles were given to us by the church – follow the Bible’s rules. Then, an “enlightenment” period came where folks said, we can instead use human reason to determine what is morally good/bad and then apply that to law. What CRT attempts to do is highlight the way that law incorporates ideas of race to maintain the racial social order. So, similar to Marxism, it critiques the normative assumptions that guide our political and legal system. For example, what does it mean to have “equal protection under the law” when the legacy of white supremacy and male dominance filters into norms that govern the workplace?

      I think what is far more interesting is why you think these ideas are “radical”? Says who? This is actually where we all need to begin, because the legacy of white supremacy (and again, white supremacy also has a lot to do with our economic system; this is not just a “KKK” and “Black Lives Matter” issue) shapes what we accept as “normal” and what we view as “radical” in ways we don’t talk about.

      Why is it radical to want greater equity for marginalized citizens? Why is it radical to want women to have greater power? Why is it radical to want greater social equality? Why is it radical to want to end racial segregation and limit poverty and homelessness?

      When we call something “radical” – an extreme view – we have to ask ourselves what frame of reference we are adopting as the “neutral” or morally fair view.

        TODD MCCALLISTER says:

        All societies have great variation in outcomes-even Marxist ones where most everyone seems poor except the bureaucrats who run the system. The idea of limiting differential outcomes is noble, but it has proved hard to maintain both group rights and individual rights in any system-conflicts arise, incentives are poor, etc. And it not like our current system is a total failure. I believe the biggest group of wealthy black people in the world live in the US, although the success of Nigerian Americans (income is much higher than whites) and the progress of Nigeria may make this statement untrue in the coming years.

      • Virginia Franklin
        Virginia Franklin says:

        The frame of reference, what your last sentence asks, is a place of white privilege, especially male.

  40. Miranda
    Miranda says:

    Totally eye-opening fascinating article. Would love for Whitney to guest post on what she means by ”
    “School in America has nothing to do with academic learning and individual growth; instead, it’s more about acculturation to white supremacy.”

    • Jane Carnell
      Jane Carnell says:

      Some people believe it’s all a class issue rather than a racial issue.
      For ten years my next door neighbors were a black family, mother, father, and four children. The mother is a college professor and Harvard PhD in education who is now teaching at a major East Coast university. Her own mother is a PhD in mathematics who was a dean of a local college.. Her husband was a social worker who changed professions and joined the tech world. My neighbor’s eldest daughter is attending Harvard. The grandmother has taken the two elder daughters to Tokyo, London, Paris on various vacations. I am a senior citizen on food stamps. I take your word for it that I have it better than them. Penelope, when you speak of your privilege, yes, I can see it. But I can also see class privilege as well as racial privilege. A movie called FRIENDS WITH MONEY touches upon being ‘the poor relation’ in a friend group. I don’t know what to say except that there are so many reasons to feel we wrong others. And sometimes we really are guilty. Sometimes it’s class inequity, too.

      • Etienne
        Etienne says:

        I am curious. Did you become friends with your next door neighbor over those 10 years? Did you invite them over for a meal or engage them in conversation? If so, what did you learn about your parallel lives beyond the surface level differences in income and economic status?

        • Jane Carnell
          Jane Carnell says:

          We were friends. I went to their baarbecues,gave the kids apples for Halloween. The mom sent me photos of their costumes when the whole family dressed up as super-heroes. I stood up for them against nasty people on the other side I knew each of the kids and gave them gifts. I loved that family, and they, me.

          • Etienne
            Etienne says:

            That’s really beautiful and I am glad you got that experience. Where I grew up, families like that moved away to other neighborhoods, often to predominantly white areas actually. It’s partly why I never imagined I could become a professor as a kid; I had never met one. But I am glad you formed a relationship and got to know them on a personal level. I am sure you have much to share.

      • The Narrative ARC
        The Narrative ARC says:

        It’s interesting that while your neighbors have all of these privileges, they also live next door to you, a senior citizen on food stamps. Most homes in a neighborhood are of similar value, style, etc. Unless I’m missing something (you’ve been forced to move away, etc.), it seems like your point illustrates the idea of white privilege. Although your neighbors have “worked hard” for their status and education, they either live in a neighborhood affordable for those on food stamps or through other means, you live in an upper/upper-middle-class neighborhood despite having a limited income. Your privilege is at work, even while receiving food stamps. No one will ever accuse you of being a “welfare queen” if they see your EBT card. It’s likely to evoke more sympathy than ridicule.

        I’m not saying that you should give your neighbors anything or pity them in any way. I am also not blaming you or shaming you over your situation–everyone who qualifies should receive assistance immediately.

        To be honest, this is not about any given individual. It’s a systemic problem.

        I suspect that systemic racism is much more like climate change than people realize. Climate change is never going to be solved at the individual level. It doesn’t matter if one person shops at Whole Foods with a reusable bag or drives an electric car. It also doesn’t matter much if one person leaves the water running for fifteen minutes or the lights on all night. The system itself has to be reimagined–and that’s what makes the problem so insidious.

        Climate change can only be solved at the government/global level. It has to, among other things, clean up the operations that produce the worst emissions and bring the cost of all green alternatives down.

        The same is true of systemic racism–gerrymandering, misinformation, redlining, the shoddy US education system, the shoddy US healthcare system–all can be traced back to anti-Black racism even though they negatively affect many people. These issues need to be corrected if we’re ever going to have real equality. I don’t begrudge anyone anything they have, as long as they do the right things at the polls (local, state, and national) and when they are in positions of power.

        I like to read about Penelope and her children. I don’t care that she’s privileged. In fact, I read this blog because she’s privileged. She casually gives answers to questions I haven’t thought of because no one taught me to ask. Please tell me what the cello moms are doing because I need to know what I’m up against. Please explain what hooks and spikes are on a college application. Please share your knowledge. Keep making what is implicit in upper-class white circles explicit for the rest of us.

    • Kameel from Anika Books
      Kameel from Anika Books says:

      Seconded. I’d be keen to understand what Whitney means!
      I’m not a big fan of the education system – especially one’s driven by post code lotteries. The limited ethnic diversity in any given locale doesn’t get any better when you’re not mixing things up, or deliberately teaching diversity – which doesn’t seem to be common.

  41. Virginia Franklin
    Virginia Franklin says:

    I agree, it is classism, elitism as well as racism. While I can’t really comment on the race part as I am a white American, I do see what you are saying Whitney and at some points of my life I related to it when around privileged people. I have mentioned a thing or two to P in the comments in the past but had to do with what I saw was entitlement and a disregard for people in general. However I appreciate some of the insight P has and like to read the comments. So yes Whitney, I see a lot of what you do and can relate to where you are coming from in a lot of ways.

    • Etienne
      Etienne says:

      You can in fact comment on the race part because white is also a race. Your experience as a person who has been labeled white matters, even if that opinion may be simply an admission that to be white makes one feel that their experience is somehow unimportant or not worthy of discussion. That to me also feels like a kind of burden of race because it makes it harder for us to bond and connect as humans.

Newer Comments »

Comments are closed.