Think Before You Speak

by BrianYoKim on October 16, 2015 - 1:49pm

                In the article entitled "White Privilege Needs to Own up to its Existence" published by Lauren Messervey through Huffington Post on September 22, 2015 discusses the absence of caucasians and their understanding of the privileges they were given at birth. Messervey gives a brief explanation about the concept of privilege and what it means to be on the advantaged side. She then brings up a controversial moment that occurred after the 2015 Prime Time Emmys ceremony where an African American actress named Viola Davis won best actress in a drama series. Shortly after she was disrespected by a white actress Nancy Lee Grahn via Twitter where Nancy splurted comments that were uncalled for such as "Emmys not a venue for racial opportunity". With this example serving as proof of white privileges, Messervey goes on to mention that racism does exist, racist people do continue to dwell around and that there will always be that divide between races because of white privilges and the fact that Caucasians have never been a victim to racism, they were never backed into the same situation or put in the same shoes as Davis was.

            It is hard to speak of white privileges since I was never really a victim of racism myself and I also grew up with a lot of Caucasian friends therefore I believe certain privileges may be applicable to me in terms of culture despite the fact that I am Korean and not white. But that does not mean I am not aware of white privileges. I have seen many cases of racism and the omnipresent abuse of white privileges in all its shapes and forms. It's the cases such as Viola Davis which is most bothersome to me because she deserved her award not because she is black but because she proved to be an amazing actress. Anyone who performed just as well as her had an equal chance of winning, it is not suppose to be about skin colour but some choose to make it so. I do not believe Nancy had the right to make the remark she made that night, she is clearly unaware of her privileges and behaved out of pure jealousy. The whole concept of white privileges does not only apply to this particular award show, it is universal, meaning everyone could use this event as an example and apply it to other situations in their own personal lives. As Messervey mentioned in her article, African Americans suffered and went through a lot to be where they are now and to be recognized by society. I am not trying to generalize the white population but some prove to be ignorant towards the fact that they are already center stage, standing on the spotlight. People like Nancy Lee Grahan who are unaware of that tend to push negative and unecessary attention towards those of different skin color who are out to show their excellence as an individual who is a part of society for who they are and not whether they are black or white.

 

References

Messervey. L. (2015). White Privilege Needs to Own Up to Its Existence. Retrieved October 15, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/lauren-messervey/why-nancy-lee-grahns-comm_b_8172964.html

Comments

There were many reasons that pushed me to respond to this post. The first was the title since it caught my eye and made me wonder ''who spoke?'' and ''what did he/she say?'' Another reason was because I really enjoyed Viola Davis's Prime Time Emmy award speech. I was shocked to see that someone had negatively spoke out about it; it was the first person that I had seen to speak of her this way. All of these reasons gave me a lot to talk about through this comment. As you said, ''I do not believe Nancy had the right to make the remark she made that night, she is clearly unaware of her privileges and behaved out of pure jealousy''... This is completely accurate and I could not agree more. Nancy did not have the right to make such a hateful remark only because she was not the one holding the award. Viola's skin colour should not have been something that came into play when discussing her potential and skill in acting, much less in her success at the Emmy's! I can relate this post to personal experience since I have heard many comments like Nancy's throughout high school. During award ceremonies for sporting events, many remarks were made by jealous students towards people of dark-skin such as; ''Of course she won for basketball, she is black''. I was often shocked when I heard these and even more appalled when I realised that these students used race in order to make themselves feel better. I also realised that most students expected to win and believed that dark-skinned people won out of pity; this showed me that white privilege is definitely present in our society since the Caucasian students believed that they should have received the prize. In this case, Viola Davis was the first dark-skinned women to win such an award.. why do you think this is? Do you believe that more dark-skinned individuals will be rewarded for their talent in the future? Are we on the right track to decrease discrimination in the entertainment industry?

The topic of the article you chose is what I think to be one of the most prominent forms of racism today. Like yourself I haven’t really faced the abuse of white privilege since I am white. Learning more about white privilege it really makes me think about all the things I did and got because I’m white. There is probably plenty of things that I did not deserve but got anyway. I do agree very much with the author when she says races do not exist and that racism and white privileges still exist because whites never were put in a situation of discrimination towards then. As Curnoe says in his article, races simply do not exist. Skin colour differs from the amount of skin exposure they have. So to discriminate another person due to their darker skin colour does not make sense. Also our first ancestor are all from Africa and they all have darker skin. Which means we are discriminating our original skin tone. I think Nancy Lee Grahn was extremely wrong for the tweets that see put out. I think things should be done for people who discriminate in public. It is not right and it should not be allowed in any circumstances. I do think social media is helping a lot on eliminating racism from our world and I think we are moving on the right path.