Thursday, April 30, 2009

Louis CK on white privilege?

I've finally found the clip of Louis CK's stand up comedy that I feel somewhat translates to our class.  Pardon the bad language, for our purposes I'm only discussing the first minute or so of the clip.  However, he does make an interesting point later on about the term "white trash" and how it is blatantly acceptable to use.  Feel free to comment/ discuss.
Just as the rich, according to CK, are blinded by their own privilege and benefits and can never understand poor life, the racial majority can never understand life as a racial minority. Not only do the racially privileged never feel the need to imagine life without privilege, they simply could not genuinely understand the other's situation if they wished to.  Likewise, just as the poor person is able to imagine wealth and is constantly reminded of it, a non-privileged, minority race can imagine life with privilege because they are continually reminded of its benefits.  This is where my argument stems from CK's and we are reminded that this is merely a correlating metaphor and not a solid match.  In no way am I trying to say that people of a racial minority constantly "fantasize" about what it is like to be white and enjoy white privilege.  What I am saying, however, is that based on the fact that there are overt and constant reminders of this imbalance,  said groups cannot help but take notice and have undoubtedly developed an awareness to others' situations that is unparalleled by the privileged race.  People of racial privilege would never imagine life under different circumstance.  Just like Louis CK says, "why would they do that?"


  1. First, that was some funny commentary. It brings up an interesting point. I guess it's alright to use white trash because even though the people one is describing when they use the word are probably at some disadvantage it usually connotes that they've made some conscious decision or mistake to end up that way. Also, their lives would not be nearly as bad if they were in the same situation and were of some racial minority. The piece about the poor fantasizing about the rich can kind of relate to the Mills reading, "Alternative Epistemologies." We live in a "rich" world and as a result the poor can see both sides because they are exposed to it every day.

  2. I find this post very accurate. Maybe a difference between the rich:poor, white:black analogy is that most white people aren't aware of their privellege, but legitimately feel they fought their way from the bottom without single a hand up. Of course in many cases this simply isn't true, but white privilege is the wealth they don't even realize they have. A lot of rich people think about poor people at least to the extent of "How can we make money off of these people" but as white people the analogous position with respect to minorities would be "How can I expand my privillege" though because they aren't necessarily aware of their privilege in the first place this is not a concious thought. I don't know if this adds anything to your analysis or our understanding of the situation, but I feel it may be true.

  3. I agree with Cameron that this post is accurate but I disagree that most are not necessarily aware of their privilege. I believe that it is this specific awareness that enables the rich people to be more informed and aware of "rich" world and the disadvantages it places on other classes. This conscious awareness of the different class situations within races allows for them to ignore the results it has on others. The "white trash" commentary I believe is a result of the lower class white people's awareness that they may behave in such manners because despite the disparities in class, they still remain connected by race to the rich white people and hold this as a privilege.

  4. The white trash commentary was the best part for me. Even though the rich/poor correlation to the dual knowledge of minorities, the white trash commentary best acknowledges the expectation of white privilege. It's like we assess them as having really messed up if they are unable to get it together when they have all the breaks. If a minority was living in the same way that a white trash person was, then we would assess them as dealing with the oppressive conditions. (Of course, the racist would assess them as exemplifying race traits.) But when you see a white trash person living as they do, then you just think they're ignorant or have done something wrong to miss all of the benefits.

    It's funny to hear it that way too. At first when I was thinking about privilege, I thought about under-privileged white people balancing things. But in this light, I realize that we don't think of them the same way because they are expected to take advantage of the perks of a racist society. Comedy always has a bit of truth to it.


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