In response to ‘Feeling whitewashed’ in response to ‘Transcend your identity’

White privilege does not mean a white person cannot suffer or have a hard life due to poverty or other factors. [A white person’s] personal grief and struggles have a place. White privilege only means they generally aren’t made to suffer for being white. In the same sense, a straight person isn’t likely to experience alienation and humiliation from friends and family for being straight, but that doesn’t mean the same person can’t have their own difficult past or internal struggles or be bullied for something else.

I personally think it’s OK if someone doesn’t immediately get this. It may take time to understand such a concept, and admittedly, the saying, “white privilege” comes off as very blunt for some people. I invite my peers to have the same approach. On that note, on pushing people away:

I am personally not worried about driving anyone away if I am honest and kind. I think others should do the same, but it does prove difficult under the constant threat of white supremacist terrorism, and I wish this article hadn’t glossed over and omitted that fact.

So since this article was largely about race, what if we’re all struggling from all different things? Does it even matter what race you are in this country? It does. People of color still experience large statistical gaps in net worth, household income, high school completion*, home ownership and college degree attainment. Even with a degree, people of color can still make less.

The worst of all of these: People of color experience terrible gaps in quality of health care and health outcomes, including lifespan.

Therefore, as much as doing away with identity politics altogether would be a dream, particularly those involving race, we do not live in a post-racial society. Race has a conversation in politics because, whether some of us like it or not, people of color are still subjected to some of the worst ends of policies.

Throwing away the historical amnesia is important here. See: public health policy, cycle of poverty, redlining, economic policy, gentrification, discriminatory educational policy such as NCLB, and civil rights for African and Latinx Americans.

Identity politics have a place in any politics, not just leftist. Being in “uber leftist” Portland and PSU has not well served my own inner identity politics. I’ve experienced harassment, discrimination and bias in Portland, at PSU and in the deep South. I’ve come to the conclusion that whether this country has shifted toward either direction on the political spectrum hasn’t been the only factor in stopping hate. It’s essential to know what the issues are to be able to heal. Of course it is painful, just like the article said. So is open heart surgery.

Helping kids graduate high school lies on society, the students are minors. Society is doing a poor job by disproportionately providing terrible schools to children of color.


Viking Voices is an open platform, rolling submission Op-Ed column open to all students, faculty, and staff of PSU. Submit your thoughts, stories, and opinions to [email protected]

Please provide your name and major. No submissions over 600 words.
Submissions are voluntary, unpaid, and not guaranteed to be published. All submissions will be reviewed and selected by Vanguard Opinion Editor.