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Thursday, January 24, 2013

155

"I Always Wanted to Ask"


The Frisky and Madame Noire sit down together (literally, for once! there are couches and chairs!) and talk about race, privilege, and friendship group diversity.

155 Comments / Post A Comment

iceberg

Boo, I can't watch videos at work :( on that topic though I found this interesting: http://weeklysift.com/2012/09/10/the-distress-of-the-privileged/

hallelujah

@iceberg I can't watch videos either, but I read that article! I understand the basis of it on an intellectual level for sure, but I just can't bring myself to use my energy soothing the egos of the hyper-privileged when they lose an eensy bit of their supremacy. Like the sunburn v. heart attack comparison - I get there's probably going to need to be angels who recognize the (comparatively minimal) pain of White, hetero men in an evolving society, but I sure as shit am not one of them.

iceberg

@hallelujah yeah i def took it more like an explanation to be able to understand where they're coming from, rather than the extremes of "feel sorry for white men!" or "white men are just assholes!"

leonstj

@iceberg - This is PROBABLY hideious mansplaining and long, but I want to dissent, as a Hetero White Dude.

I kind of disagree a lot with this article. I'm a white hetero dude, and amongst people of the same descriptors, we have DEFINITELY DEFINITELY joked about like "Man, how easy would it be to live in Mad Men? I want to just drink all I want and not get yelled at for smoking and etc."

But like, we're also educated, liberal dudes who don't actually believe that. When we say it, it is friends joking about a thing that's crazy easy for us to joke about, because all it is is making our lives "easier". But not BETTER, because we really believe that a rising tide lifts all boats, equality, etc. (I say etc not to dismiss it offhand, but ya'll are on the same page as to what the etc is).

And like - I'm not some magically super-evolved dude. I am SO FUCKING THERE in times of my voting, charitable donation, marching in whatever etc support of like, Gay Rights for instance - full on RIGHTS, like I think Civil Unions are a disgusting BS cop-out and hate when liberals propose it.

But also like, I was raised a blue collar white straight guy, and it took me YEARS to not want to turn away when two dudes kiss, and like, today, my reaction to something might be an emotional/automatic "that's romantic" when a straight couple does it, but the "that's romantic" when a gay couple does it is intellectual/learned reaction when a gay couple does it.

So you know, sure, there is some 'discomfort' in being a member of the most privileged class in the history of time. That part of the article is true.

But you know who's problem it completely is not? Anybody but our own. The talk of "counter-revolution" - I mean, yes it happens. It's the entire basis of the current wacko-wing of the republican party. And it sucks. And it is fucking bullshit.

The sunburn/heart attack metaphor is right, but maybe people don't deserve any sympathy for sunburn. Maybe they should learn to stay the fuck out of the sun for so long. And if they're dumb enough to fall asleep on the beach towel with their face in the sand, maybe you ought to slap them on the back when you ask a sarcastic "How Ya Doin'?"

Of course, all of that is easy for me to say, since I'm not the one who has to deal with it. And I get that, and I don't mean to dismiss the article - maybe it's right, and I just can't accept that there needs to be this bullshit compromise path. But honestly, dudes like me, who ever, once, whatsoever open their mouth about things getting harder for us because they're ever so slowly becoming a little better for our fellow human beings, need to take long walks off of short piers.

iceberg

@leon s I don't think I disagree with you at all. I just think it's easier to combat someone's special snowflake whiining when you know where it comes from, also you catch more flies with honey etc. (originally typed that as you catch more flies with hiney, which, possibly true).

hallelujah

@leon s This. This! I just can't get past the nagging feeling that, like you said, this shit is simply not my problem. Figure it out, guys. I'll be over here tryna make it under a White supremacist patriarchy, I doubt you'd trade given the choice. But then, empathy, yes, blah. I like the cut of your jib, basically.

leonstj

@iceberg - Yeah, I think in a lot of ways you're right. I felt bad after I thought about what I typed, cuz the tone is...aggressive, to say the least. And I didn't mean that at all towards you, and I hope it didn't come out as such!

I think the empathy you're showing towards other people is great, and we should always be encouraging empathy in general. It's just really a fucking bummer anybody is even in a position where we need to think about whether or not empathy in this direction is needed.

Ellie

I honestly don't really understand that article. What's the point? That it's easier to have dialogue with people when you acknowledge that they are actually feeling the way they are feeling? You can learn that from reading How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk (best book ever), it doesn't have any special relevance to this issue.

noodge

@iceberg I completely agree with you - understanding a perspective helps you engage it much better.

Par example....

I was having a discussion with a suburban, older (50's?) white male a few weeks ago. The Newtown shooting/"what's happening with our young white men" came up in discussion. I, having read the above article, tried a different tactic. I said it's a really difficult situation, and that it seems like many white men are struggling to find an identity in the world where the rules have changed so dramatically because they have less of their privilege. He said it was a horrible situation - joblessness, sense of failure, and lack of identity. He said "it's really awful, you know - I know young men who go into interviews and then don't get the job even though they're very qualified, upstanding people. They don't know - is it because they're white? and they're men? it's awful!" and I said "you know, you just described what the world has almost always been like for women and minorities." He kinda chuckled and brushed it off. But he came back to it later in the discussion, saying I'd given him food for thought. Not a HUGE victory, but much better than devolving into our defensive stances and sparring with zingers that the other person won't ever understand.

iceberg

@noodge I have found that gentleness and/or feigned stupidity ("wait, I don't understand why being mixed-race Jewish/Asian would have anything to do with frugality...?") gets better results than being a total bitch, but I can't always make myself do it!!!

Springtime for Voldemort

@hallelujah Eh, I really go back and forth on this. I think the implication is that you can't complain unless it's the worst thing ever, and then we get into Oppression Olympics, which is almost never helpful. But it also makes it really hard for oppressed groups to complain about microaggressions - ugh, what is up with these black people wanting respect for their hair, don't they know that their ancestors were literally lynched and that some 8 year old girl in Thailand has been trafficked into sexual slavery? I think there's a way to acknowledge that both sunburns and heart attacks (both literal, and metaphorical) suck without making it out like sunburns or worse or deserving of more attention.

kimkrypto

@iceberg I am of the opinion that there is no correct single way to make someone change their mind or rethink their assumptions. In fact, I think the multiplicity of strategies - from yelling to subtle argumentation to different lineups on popular TV shows - is important to get people everywhere they're at. Opinions aren't made or changed solely in reasoned arguments.

HOWEVER! I think the whole "what is the best way to argue a racist out of being racist?" conversation is a HUGE red herring, as are videos like the one above. Ultimately, racism is structural. Microaggressions, racist sexual attractions, etc. are tempting to talk about because they are smaller and less intractable than the prison-industrial complex, red-lining, etc. A white person being aware of their white privilege has the same net effect as a white person who isn't aware of their white privilege, assuming that these conversations are limited to "awareness."

iceberg

@kimkrypto yes, this is a good point, but I just like everyone around me to be less insufferable generally :)

hallelujah

@Springtime for Voldemort I agree, mostly - I just don't think saying "losing a teensy bit of your privilege is not something you deserve sympathy for, & you need to figure out how to deal with it your damn self" is playing into the Oppression Olympics (go away, Oppression Olympics! Intersectionality!), because it's not an oppression in any sense of the word. Like, it doesn't even belong in the conversation. It's a matter mostly, of bruised egos and hurt feelings, and those don't come anywhere near very real microaggressions or institutionalized oppression.

baked bean

@noodge YES. Victory. I had a similar argument with a young white dude and I couldn't win. But I was also drunk. So there's that. Now my roommate is dating him :(

ANYWAY, yeah, it's hard to have sympathy for a group of people who have less now because they are now being forced to share. This doesn't mean we go "ohhh I'm sorry, poor baby," and give them some candy back. They still have candy. And more candy than everyone else still, so... how much are they gonna whine when they have the same amount of candy as everyone else?

PatatasBravas

Veronica Wells' necklace! Gorgeous!

KeLynn

@PatatasBravas SERIOUSLY

PatatasBravas

Also, up until the 4 minute mark, it was really striking how much the white women dominated the conversation. Also it slid really quickly into a "because they live in white privilege" about other white women... I would have appreciated hearing more from these particular white women about moments in which they really noticed their own white privilege for the first time, and wrestled with it.

PatatasBravas

Not that this conversation isn't valuable! I just would have preferred to hear more "I did this, my white privilege" than "they do this, I have seen others say ____ out of white privilege".

SarahDances

@PatatasBravas I noticed that too, and I'm wondering if maybe that isn't because this was on Madame Noir's channel, so they wanted to keep the focus on their guests? I'm definitely going to be poking through their other videos when I get home from work.

bb
bb

@PatatasBravas definitely my first reaction - why are the white ladies the only ones talking (but, to be fair, they are answering a question directed to them... they are just a bit long-winded IMO)? also, LOL at "do I want to date anyone who lives in Brooklyn or the Bronx" - when I was online dating in NY, white dudes got in touch with me and I would think, "hmm does this guy live in Staten Island? Do I want to date someone who lives in Staten Island?"

HeyThatsMyBike

@PatatasBravas I also noticed that very quickly. And I have to wonder if it was because the black women were scared that they'd devolve into an argument by responding logically to some of the sorta cringey things some of the white ladies were saying that sort of underscored the complexity of our lack of understanding of what white privilege actually is. There were several times I wanted one of the black women to interrupt and say, "But what you just said? That's white privilege right there!"

Scandyhoovian

@HeyThatsMyBike I was actually struck by how the white women spent a very large amount of effort to keep from owning things for themselves. It was a lot more of "White people do..." and very little "I will admit, I have done..." I know it's hard to look in the mirror that shows you all your flaws and even harder to work to change them, but man. I feel like there's a lot of "I'm so progressive!" going on in these white women and they haven't quite gotten to where they think they have.

harebell

@PatatasBravas
yes, that.
Also, they didn't realize how different being black is from being other types of minorities, or being marked in a non-highly-visible vs. highly-visible way as a minority. Being black in public in America is just not like being Jewish in public in America, even though both may entail certain problems!

I spend a certain amount of time being the only white person, or the only one of a very small number of white people, in my vicinity -- lived that way as a child for 4 years, and periodically go on trips now where it's true -- and there's just something incredibly visceral about sticking out in that way, and being so simply to pick out at a distance -- that and the automatic judgments that coalesce about you as soon as you walk into a room, without saying a word. My experiences are obviously very different, since I've never been part of a minority that is historically discriminated against and whose ancestors were enslaved, so in no way would I say that my experiences have been like those of a black American. But I have had that experience in common of being really viscerally other, and it just didn't get touched on in any way by the white ladies in that conversation. You're exposed all the time -- you're vulnerable -- because your difference is visible all the time.

It's also been much, much harder being the only person of my racial type in a place where race matters a lot and is pejorative, like the Dominican Republic. That was a much worse feeling than being the only person of my racial type in a place where race isn't nearly as politicized, e.g. when I lived in a West African country and traveled often through West Africa. People there weren't thinking in such a knee-jerk way about race -- other sorts of differences mattered more -- as hard as that may be for an American to imagine! -- so it was much less of a "heightened" feeling.

Race relations in America are not the necessary relations that have to arise based on racial/ethnic differences, and they don't exist all over the world in the same way they do here. I think people in the US don't realize how anomalous and awful the existence of racially-based slavery in our country and in our homes here really was -- how much of an extreme it was.

HeyThatsMyBike

@Scandyhoovian Well put. The white gal on the couch in the purple shirt came closest to owning up to her actions (talking about her assumptions while online dating), but the rest of these ladies seem to be saying that they totally understand white privilege and that they are above it personally, and kinda pity their friends who don't "get it." Fact is that no white person (myself included) will ever fully understand all of the complexities, subtleties, or ramifications of white privilege because we're never going to be anything but white. And I think you're right in noting that this was a missed opportunity for these white women to be more introspective and thoughtful (how does white privilege/prejudice/etc rear up among more progressive people who actually do make an effort to think about these things, for example? That's a really interesting question!), and instead they cast aspersions on "less progressive" people and called it a day.

meetapossum

@PatatasBravas The question about how often white women think about race really struck me. All of there answers were "Oh, I always actively think of minorities." I mean, do you really? That question alone was me coming face first with my own privilege. I understand the need to defend themselves, but I'm not sure they were all being honest.

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

@harebell
Where in West Africa, might I ask?

wee_ramekin

@meetapossum Yes, this.

Also, it's really sad that they felt like they had to "defend themselves", since no one was actually accusing them of anything. I mean, I can see why they would have felt scared/tense, but the question was asked in the least aggressive, accusative manner possible.

meetapossum

@wee_ramekin Well, "I don't really think about black people very often" is something I would find really difficult to admit out loud.

wee_ramekin

@meetapossum Ha! Yeah, I see that. But man, imagine the discussion that would have happened if they had admitted that. Because no matter how well-meaning they are - or I am, as a white woman - it's the truth.

hahahaha, ja.

I just went through and thumbs up'ed virtually this entire thread. I mean, I'm glad this conversation is being had, but I raised at least one eyebrow within the first half a minute. Possibly both. Props to the one woman for admitting her own racial prejudices wrt online dating; concrete examples like that are more useful than "I think about race relations a lot."

wee_ramekin

@wee_ramekin Gah, also, you know what sucks? That the white women couldn't admit to that even when they were being asked in a non-threatening way in a discussion that is specifically about race-relations.

Goddamn, it must be really difficult being the black women in this scenario, because even when they ask the most pertinent question in the least threatening way possible, there's still all this obfuscation coming from the other side of the conversation. And I mean, how are we supposed to move forward from that?

It's like when you're talking to a dude and he's like "Well, yeah, I agree that Pick-Up Artists™ are gross, but women play "The Game" too, you know", and you're just like "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaagh that is not the poooooooooooint, why can't you seeeeeeeee that the two genders are coming from completely different positions of social power that make their approaches to "The Dating Game" differently harmfulllllllllllll aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh".

iceberg

@wee_ramekin I love you so much girl. sorry I have nothing to add here except that.

wee_ramekin

@iceberg Aw Bergie, I love you too :).

Actually, the next time I visit NYC (which will probably be in a year or so), I am planning on getting your info so that we can meet up (with or sans the triplets - I want to meet them so much, but I can understand if you'd want Adult Time).

iceberg

@wee_ramekin I don't live in NYC :( more's the pity!

wee_ramekin

@iceberg Brooklyn? Man, I could swear that you lived somewhere New Yorky. Do...do you live on the East Coast? In America? WHAT'S HAPPENING WHERE AM I.

iceberg

@wee_ramekin ahhh I am trying to figure out a way to contact you without revealing too much personal info here :) do you have an email you'd feel comfortable putting here?

wee_ramekin

@iceberg Yes! Send your e-mail address to "Attn: Wee_Ramekin" at austinpinup at gee mail punto com. I am no longer in charge of the Austin Pin-up mailing list, but I still see all the e-mails that come into that box. So! I will see it and I will e-mail you back from my ~*~personal e-mail~*~ and we will Get This Show On The Road.

Also, sorry to everyone that I co-opted this thread in the process of pursuing the Bergie. Let's get back to discussing race.

iceberg

@wee_ramekin Eek I did it! :)

fondue with cheddar

I think the answer is "no". I'm white, and I know I'm privileged but I'm sure I don't comprehend the full depth of it. I wish I could watch this video right now.

garli

@fondue with cheddar Yeah, I'm white and also can't watch. Although I do often wonder how much white privilege I have due to the fact that people never believe I'm white. My (white) parents genes some how combined in a way that makes strangers/coworkers/everyone always be all "but not ALL white, RIGHT?"

fondue with cheddar

@garli That sounds like an awkward conversation. What does it even matter? Ugh, people.

I had a customer where I used to work who had twin boys, one was dark-skinned and the other was light-skinned (otherwise they looked nearly identical, so cool). They've got to be in high school by now. I wonder if there's much of a difference in how they're treated by white people.

garli

@fondue with cheddar It comes up all the damn time. From the lady who did my nails last week and asked if I was Mexican, to the African American dude I work with who told me white girls don't have hair like mine to the time in an Indian waiter (in an Indian restaurant) insisting that my *mom* was lying and I clearly was Indian. Or the time I was working at UCSD and the lady who processed my paperwork and some how signed me up for the American Indian Employee Society (or something like that, this was a decade ago).

I guess I don't take it as awkward any more, it's more of a like "what else will people insist I am today?" Also a good lesson that you clearly don't know anything about people until you talk to them.

iceberg

@fondue with cheddar For *reasons*, one of my triplets has blonde hair and blue eyes, and the other two are dark-haired and dark-eyed, and one of them is slightly darker skinned too. EVERYONE (regardless of race) gets so excited about the blue-eyed one and exclaims about how pretty she is, and NOT about the other two individually, to the point where I am sort of dreading navigating it when they're older.

Judith Slutler

@iceberg Oh wow. And they're all girls? Yeah that might be tough.

A high school friend of mine who's black married a biracial black man, and she says that because of the variation in her 2 kids' skin color, people sometimes assume that they don't have the same dad. So much prejudice and grossness packed into one little assumption.

iceberg

@Emmanuelle Cunt one is a boy, not the blue-eyed one :) edited to add, I of course think they are all equally if differently attractive.

fondue with cheddar

@garli Yikes. Don't you just love it when people argue with you over something like that?

Fun fact: I went to high school with this very white kid with blond hair that had the texture of black people's hair. Race is fluid, not absolute. There are no rules!

Judith Slutler

@iceberg Oh! Man that is so cool. I can't imagine what it must be like caring for 3 tiny kids at once, but I am always in awe of you when you talk about them. :)

fondue with cheddar

@iceberg Weird, I wrote my comment before I read yours and they're about a similar thing. I really hope that changes when they're older (people's reactions, not their looks). Also, TRIPLETS? I don't know how you do it; you're amazing.

Simtow

@iceberg Yea, that'll be a toughie. My youngest sisters are non-identical triplets, but they look remarkably alike, so there aren't physical comparisons to be made, except for larger colorist sentiments (we're black). :-/

She thinks she was brave to think about race? What the ever loving fuck?

Judith Slutler

@S. Elizabeth also feminism = antiracism... hmm.

chevyvan

@Emmanuelle Cunt Caveate: I couldn't watch the whole video b/c it wouldn't load so I might have missed something. But the part I saw said something about being a *good feminist* (if that's a thing) means acknowledging the interests of different groups (e.g., it's bad for white upper middle class feminists to de-value domestic work b/c it's mostly the realm of poor minority women). I think that's what she was getting at...although I could be reading into it. But I hope that's something one would learn in a women's studies program.

Miss Maszkerádi

I read some blog post somewhere (flying spaghetti monster knows where) that took issue with the concept of "privilege" as expressed specifically by that name, be it white or straight or cisgendered or any of the other privileged groups - it got a bit semantically nitpicky, but the gist of it as I remember was that "privilege" implies an unusual advantage over normal circumstances, and often has the undertone of implying an undeserved or unearned bonus. Person A is given a sandwich for lunch, Person B is given two, Person B is in the unusual and privileged position of having twice as much lunch as anybody else, for no real reason. (Person B is probably a shit.) But when we're talking about Person A being treated poorly by society and having to struggle more to make a life for himself, and Person B being treated generally with respect and dignity, is it quite accurate or fair to describe Person B's situation as "privilege," as in the unearned extra sandwich and extraordinary if random good fortune? Shouldn't being treated like a human being, essentially, be considered the minimum standard, and not as some sort of extraordinary "privilege"? Respect isn't an extra, and every human earns it by default by being alive...

I know it's all semantic nitpicking and I'm not sure i got the point (as I understood it) across all that clearly, but the discourse about "privilege" has always given me a weird feeling and I'm never sure exactly why.

Then again, full disclosure, I'm so white I could sunburn from moon-rays, so I probably just don't get it. :-/

Judith Slutler

@Countess Maritza Yeah I think you have a point there, but a: what if the number of sandwiches were zero-sum, as some resources are? and b: I think that people can keep 2 thoughts in their head at the same time, so some of the semantic stuff you're talking about is often baked into discussions of "privilege" in a way that's implicit, so talking about privilege can sound harsher than it's meant to be, for beginners.

My favorite definition of how privilege works structurally is "broad sympathy for some, broad skepticism of others"

SarahDances

@Countess Maritza Did it offer an alternative term? I feel like saying "privilege" is a better option than throwing another negative on non-white/cis people.

RK Fire

@Countess Maritza Being treated as a human being should be considered the minimum standard but all too often it isn't, and if you're not cognizant of that, it may be harder to understand where people are coming from they complain about specific issues. I think that when society assumes that normal is essentially: upper middle class, cis male, white, and heterosexual, the rest of us falling outside of those categories have a hard time being legitimately heard.

Anyway, to me the most pernicious thing about white privilege is its history of being institutionalized in a systemic way. It's pervasiveness and our general ignorance of it leads to some people thinking that Black people just want handouts, Latinos just won't assimiliate, and Asians are bizarro math machines without having to really think about how many achievements that Black communities had pre-Civil Rights era were in spite of major obstacles, Latinos have been a part of our country ofr centuries, and it's amazing how when you have a post 1965 immigration process that privileges scientists and engineers that the people who show up from the most populated countries in the world may actually be.. scientists and engineers.

TL;DR: "white privilege" is a helpful phrase for me to understand and explain some of the disconnects I've seen my entire life about culture, socioeconomic stuatus, etc.

H.E. Ladypants

@Countess Maritza Allow me to rebut that with an anecdote. (We all know the plural of anecdote is not data but bear with me.) At one point when I was in college in New York, working in restaurants I realized I would be able to find jobs doing just that as long as I was in school. Because I was young, white, prett-ish, and cheerful. And restaurants love to have young, white, pretty, cheerful women up front because it presents a certain image. And that gave me an edge and a hand up over other applicants. I would have had more competition for various jobs if all things were equal and none of that mattered, if only because the pool would have been much bigger.

To use the sandwich metaphor again, I was being given two sandwiches but as a result of my (and people like me) being given two sandwiches, other people had to make due with carrot sticks. Oppression does not occur in a vacuum. Oppression is the result of privilege. Ideally, everyone will get one sandwich. But for those sandwiches to be available, I have to give one up first.

Miss Maszkerádi

@RK Fire I am actually cognizant that a lot of people aren't treated as well as they should be, thanks. I was indulging in my favorite pastime of overthinking.

I don't remember if the article suggested an alternative term. I feel like I should clarify I'm not totally sure if I agree with it? Was just throwing it out there as food for thought/argument.

RK Fire

@Countess Maritza I wasn't trying to be condescending, I was talking about people as in "general populace." I'm not white, I'm Asian, and being in my late 20s I (and I'm assuming "we" because I think you're in my general age cohort from past comments) have grown up knowing that a lot of people deal with discrimination and prejudice, and yet people in our age cohort still say shitty things. The concept of white privilege was helpful to me in college in understanding why white people may sometimes say those shitty things even though they theoretically should know better and a lot of times it's because they don't. The microaggressions tumblr could pretty much describe a an unreasonable percentage of conversations I've heard or participated in growing up.

ETA: I like overthinking too, so here's some food for thought: maybe it doesn't sit well for you because it's too broad? I think there's the institutional side, e.g. "someone is more likely to try to push subprime mortgages on me even though my credit score qualifies for a prime loan because I'm a person of color" and then there's the stranger petting your hair because they're intrigued by its texture.

Additional edit: ...or the friend who brings up the Trayvon Martin case and is kind of like "hey, it sucks but let's face it, young black men in hoodies can be scary and maybe it was just a matter of time?" :( And said friend identifies as a fairly liberal Democrat? yay.

I've also been thinking about another thing a lot, which is this:I think everyone tends to think that our formative experience--as influenced by SES, cultural heritage, religion, the whole gamut--is what is "normal" and it takes so much to go beyond that and to genuinely to relate to people. White privilege (along with its fellow gender/sexuality/class/etc. privileges) also means that you have a society that confirms for you that yes, your experience is normal and everyone else's is weird/odd. That sucks. On the flipside though, I've been thinking a lot about how hard it is to think beyond our surroundings in our first place, no matter who we are.

iceberg

@RK Fire <3 you Firie! I have been lucky enough to have my white privilege in the US be almost transparent to me because of how different race relations are here than in Australia, and to have made friends of color who are willing to talk about these things with me, probably ALSO due to being a foreigner.

Edited to add: "talk about" also including calling me out if i made an ignorant mistake.

Miss Maszkerádi

@RK Fire You definitely are right that it's the broadness of the terms that's most likely to irk me. I'm just really, really twitchy about a philosophical or political discourse that divides people up into opposing factions (be it by class, skin color, sexual orientation or whatnot) - maybe I've just heard too many firsthand stories from friends and family from the former Eastern Bloc about the effects of too much Marxist-class-war ideology on a society, but it's hard for me to not draw at least occasional parallels. Again, I recognize I'm probably missing many points, but to each their irrational reactions.

ETA: who the fuck says "it's just a matter of time" about something like Trayvon Martin?! Jesus Christ on roller skates. *shakes head*

RK Fire

@Countess Maritza That adds a lot of context! My family is from Viet Nam, so yay, fleeing communism. But my family (like other Viet families) didn't really talk about the political and social context of the time when I was growing up so I don't have those same associations. I think I can understand why you might.

It doesn't have to be opposing factions, you know? It can be just who we are, although I think you're right to be wary since it does go there. I don't know, on this note, maybe this essay by Ta Nahesi Coates gets at what you're saying? I love TNC, so sorry if you've seen it already, I kinda try to push his writing on everyone who is willing to talk about this stuff.

@iceberg: Thanks so much for the love! I was worried I was being obnoxious. I was trying to stay out of the comments on this one but I have a cultural studies background, my husband is Black, and many of our friends are white in a fairly segregated city so I have ALL of the FEELINGS on this.

Also I saw your note on your triplets, and I have similar worries on my future progeny because my nieces are white and Viet and all of the folks on my mom's side coo over their light skin and how white they look. o_O

ETA: oh, right, I also wanted to say stuff about living in Australia! I've kind of become more intrigued by how race relations work out in other countries that experience a lot of immigration. There's a lot of stereotypes out there about white Australians being really racist.. and I've mostly heard them from my (American) friends who play Aussie rules in the US.

RK Fire

@Countess Maritza Because young black men in hoodies are scary, amirite?? Ahh, that friend of mine is well-intentioned but is very much of the vein of "everyone is like me.. right?" I think it kind of home to him when I made it a little more personal to him and said, "you know, if I have a son, he would pretty much be seen as a young black man in a hoodie.."

stuffisthings

@Countess Maritza That's really interesting. I've always found the concept somewhat problematic for that very reason. I feel like there has to be a more elegant way of describing the benefits accrued through not experiencing racism/sexism/etc., without implying that basic dignity is some kind of unearned special advantage.

Also, I think that, for many liberal/progressive types, it is easier to admit that you benefit from privilege than that you participate in racism. But for the unequal condition to persist someone has to actually be perpetrating the racism, right? Or at least creating the structures that institutionalize it?

It seems like the discourse and activism around race, at least among college-educated white people, has gotten away from its traditional pattern of finding and eliminating the sources of racism and now focuses on simply acknowledging that white people passively benefit from the diffuse racial bias that somehow permeates society without originating anywhere. At least calling yourself brave for doing so is still considered optional.

Miss Maszkerádi

@stuffisthings The thing that gets to me is when people talk about the need to "dismantle the structures" and leave it at that. It's all well and good but, like, how? Sorry if I'm not convinced that sitting around in freshman seminar dumping ashes on our heads for being the "oppressor class" and comparing notes on who's most enlightened and brave isn't going to do anyone a hint of good. #goodriddanceundergrad

iceberg

@RK Fire yuuup, a LOT of Aussies are super racist. It's probably not better or worse than the US, just different. Basically each new wave of immigrants gets shat on by not only white Aussies but each previous group; Italians/Greeks after WWII got shat on by English-descended, then (among others I'm sure) East Asians (Chinese mainly), South East Asian (eg Vietnamese), Middle Eastern, Eastern Euro like Serbian/Croatian, and currently I think the Sudanese refugees are getting it.

Judith Slutler

@Countess Maritza Yeah it's the "awareness" trap. Raising awareness is not enough.

stuffisthings

@Countess Maritza "Dismantling structures" is at least more concrete and actionable than "acknowledging privilege," which appears to be the current gold standard of liberal white behavior re: racism. I mean, slavery was a structure. Jim Crow was a structure. Apartheid was a structure. It IS possible to dismantle such structures through long-term collective action. I have a lot more respect even for people who engage in seemingly silly, superficial activism like "let's boycott Mattel because of racist Barbies!" than just occasionally linking to the privilege backpack article in the Jezebel or Racialicious comments and thinking, "Whelp, now I've done my duty as a forward-thinking white person."

I guess this ties into my broader problem with the modern American left being all about introspection and self-examination and not about strategy, mobilization, and action.

(ETA: Sorry if that comes off as argumentative, it's directed at the annoying strawman construct I'm eliciting, not at you!)

Miss Maszkerádi

@stuffisthings co-signed every last bit of that. <3

stuffisthings

@stuffisthings Oh, I also wanted to add that while we were all down here acknowledging that we're so privileged we don't even know how privileged we are, the Supreme Court is (likely) busy dismantling affirmative action and paving the way for voter ID laws and the re-segregation of schools. So it's not like there's a lack of concrete political issues to get exercised about.

HeyThatsMyBike

@RK Fire Speaking of the babies - my friend (white) is married to a man whose parents immigrated from Taiwan. When she is out for walks with their 6 month old baby, people frequently ask her if she adopted a baby from China/Korea/insert Asian country here. :\

happy go lucky scamp

@iceberg and the aboriginals have had it ever since we invaded.
It's always horrible that I'm in the minority for not being racist towards aboriginals. It seems so socially acceptable to assume that all aboriginals behave in a certain way and it's repulsive.
Particularly seeing as tomorrow's Australia/Survival Day, there are so many conversations i'm hearing at work that I'm so repulsed by but they're everywhere, i don't know where to start correcting everyone.
But as long as Paul Kelly is in the medley for the aussie day montage is all good yes?

(ergh I think i opened my mouth and more came out than i expected. I'm not so good at forming an opinion on the internet today)

iceberg

@happy go lucky scamp Yup. My husband is Aboriginal but doesn't look it and people used to say the foulest things to him thinking they were talking to another white person.

Simtow

@Countess Maritza My working definition, for when I'm giving presentations: Privilege can be advantages or lack of disadvantages that are systematically bestowed on the basis of an unrelated characteristic. Getting two sandwiches because I made twice as many isn't privilege; getting two sandwiches because I'm left-handed (in a world where left-handedness is upheld as all that is good in the world and right-handedness is a sign of inferiority) is.

Scandyhoovian

Oh my god there are more! There's a whole series! *bookmarks everything for later*

This is actually something some friends and I have been discussing a lot lately (we're all white), trying to better understand the privilege we come from and embody. It's interesting, and the difference in all of our reactions and points of view in the conversation have been really eye-opening and helpful. Though, we are all white, so we're lacking some outside perspective on it, but I think discussing it and trying to understand it is still better than not addressing it at all.

fondue with cheddar

@Scandyhoovian Agreed, discussing it is important, even if you're discussing it among other privileged people.

I had a hard time trying to explain some of the nuances of male privilege to my boyfriend. He's not sexist, he just thinks he can relate to certain experiences, when in reality it's not quite the same.

Emby

What little I know about my own privilege, being a healthy cis-gendered white middle-class male in the United States, is that above all, I should shut the fuck up and listen to other people before I weigh in on something.

Reginal T. Squirge

Rule #1: Shut the fuck up.

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

I once heard someone put the question as: "if we're going to be equal, are we going to treat white people like black people, or black people like white people?" I find that a helpful way to think about the question sometimes. The TSA has pretty much chose the former in 2001 (though it is now backing away from that choice), and the response from white people has been illuminating.

HeyThatsMyBike

@Rock and Roll Ken Doll Fascinating way to look at it. Especially wrt to the TSA!

beanie

I was surprised by the conversation about many of them not having friends outside of their own race. When Girls premiered everyone flipped about the fact that it was an all-white cast set in New York, and everyone claimed that everyone in New York had a set of friends that was very diverse, yet this group of intelligent women all live in New York and claim to not be friends with women that aren't their same race.

H.E. Ladypants

@beanie I used to have a lot of friends of different races when I was younger. The older I've gotten the more mono-racial I've noticed my friend line-up has gotten. I've never been able to fully account for this and I've always wondered if this was a larger pattern. Or maybe it's just the period I had where most of my friends weren't white was a fluke? I don't know. If anyone else has experienced similar things, though, I'd be interested in hearing.

HeyThatsMyBike

@H.E. Ladypants Very similar experience here. Many of my non-white friends now are good friends that have remained good friends from high school (where I was in a very diverse "group") and also a few from college. And I don't know which way the arrow goes either. Was it just unusual in high school? Or do people really do more self-segregating by towns and neighborhoods and even workplaces as they get older?

werewolfbarmitzvah

@beanie To me it mostly comes down to the NYC factor. Geography is everything. If someone lives in a mostly homogeneous city or town, then it absolutely makes sense that they would have a homogeneous social group. But in New York City? One of the most densely-packed, ethnically mixed-up places in which a person can possibly live? That's when I start raising an eyebrow. I live in New York City, and I can't help but raise an eyebrow at Girls, and I can't help but raise an eyebrow at the white women in this video.

leonstj

@werewolfbarmitzvah - I dunno, alwyas though. I live in NYC, and as I've gotten older, my group of 'the guys' has slowly included fewer black men than it used to. I mean, they're still around as acquaintances, but I don't spend as much time or serious personal conversation with them as I used to.

We've got asian (South and East), latin, white, middle eastern people in our group of friends, so it's not an "all white" thing. Maybe, seeing as how i'm talking about a single group of a 10-15 people, it's not about race, it's just a coincidence. It's hard to say how that change happened across a smaller group.

But part of me wonders, you know...I am much closer with male friends than female, so I can't speak across gender lines.

But the life experiences of a black man vs a white man between the ages of 15 and 30, even from the same economic classes and education levels, are so radically different - far moreso than between any other two races, I think - that maybe there are just ways that, as grown-ass men, we can still be friends and talk about frivolous shit, but we have just lived too long in two completely different Americas to 100% GET each other the way we did when we were 18.

Less Lee Moore@facebook

@H.E. Ladypants I have found it depends on where I have lived. When I was growing up in the Southern US, I had almost exclusively white friends, but when I was in college in Southern California, it was a mix of races, especially at work (school cafeteria). In the Toronto area, where I live now, I have friends of different races and there are a lot of different races in the area. My husband isn't white, so that is part of it, too.

baked bean

@HeyThatsMyBike Yeah, I grew up in a small-ass town in the Midwest, and my best friend was black, couple of Asian friends, Indian, the rest white. But now I only have one (not super close) black friend, and I'm in a college town with a diverse student body! I had a party a while back and was kind of horrified at myself because there were no minorities there!

There aren't a lot of minorities in my major, and my friends are all the same major as me because we have the same interests, and we spend countless hours together for school things so we don't meet other people.

Perhaps these are excuses, but hey, like the ladies in the video mentioned, I'm not going to go out on a mission to all the bars to find a black woman to be my friend. Friendships come more naturally than that. I wish it were that easy, I want more diverse friends!

The main reason I don't talk to my friends from back home much (no matter the race) is because we have drifted. We don't have that much in common anymore. Our interests are more refined, and we all have new friends in our bigger towns and colleges that have interests and views exactly the same as ours.

fondue with cheddar

@H.E. Ladypants I had a few black friends in grade school but they all moved away after a couple years. In my school district, most of the black families lived in this shitty apartment complex, and the good people didn't stay there very long. I had one black friend in my neighborhood, but his family got busted for selling drugs so he moved away, too. The other black family in my neighborhood had older kids so we weren't friends.

Miss Maszkerádi

Just watched the video. One line from Amelia struck me, when she mentioned that she was "raised to think critically about race and class issues" by her "very progressive parents." I thought it was interesting because my parents are also quite progressive/liberal but the general message I got wasn't "think critically about race and analyze power structures," but more "every kind of people in the world deserves just as much respect and kindness as every other so use the golden rule no matter what color or gender someone is." One theoretical, one practical...I'm not trying to paint myself as some saint or declare that one approach to human decency is better than another, but I often wonder if the "critical analysis of races and classes" approach maybe backfires a little and ends up just building more walls between groups of people, and splitting groups into smaller identity sub-groups.....I dunno. My half-formed two cents.

Judith Slutler

@Countess Maritza I think what you want to watch out for in the practical approach is encouraging the "I don't even notice that you're a black person, ha ha ha!!!" type of colorblind racism. But yeah, maybe we can get farther by teaching kids empathy.

Miss Maszkerádi

@Emmanuelle Cunt ack, the "oh wow, you're black? I didn't even notice, see, I don't see color" line. It's the other side of the "look at how enlightened and self-aware I am, I feel so bad about being white" coin. Both obnoxious as balls and both allllll about the person talking showing off what a Good Person (tm) they are.

Empathy is key - humility is the other.

Fissionchips

@Emmanuelle Cunt Yeah, I'm white and remember as a child thinking about racism with utter disbelief, because I was taught to believe in fairness, logic and kindness and it seemed like the opposite of those things - which grew into that stupid kind of colour-blind racism as a young teenager (it's stupid! Pretend it doesn't exist!) - luckily I had friends not sharing of my privilege who told me off for it.

Miss Maszkerádi

@Fissionchips oh hon, everybody is a dumbass when they're a young teenager. I was a 14-year-old communist revolutionary. *cringeeeeee*

Queen Elisatits

Something that has been helpful in putting my white-cis-straight privilege in check is framing it against how male privilege works. Example: I'm walking home at dusk from the bus stop and a man is walking in front of me. I get a little upset when I realize that at that moment he is probably not worried about "Who is this lady walking behind me? How close is she? Is someone going to try and invade my personal space or worse on this walk?" and on top of that he probably wasn't even aware of the lack of that problem! He is just blissfully walking along!
So that is how I approach the fact of my privilege: I can (if I so choose) get along in the world blissfully unaware of the problems and realities of people who are not privileged in the same way.

Slutface

I went to a high school that didn't have a single black person in it. The only black people that I saw were on my tv. When I went to college, the one black girl in my dorm lived on another floor and I think we spoke a few times in the bathroom. This wasn't anything that was in my control, it was the town I grew up in (and surrounding towns). It can be very hard to realize your privilege until you're an adult when you grow up situations like this. I don't think I'm the exception to the rule here either so I think conversations like this are very important conversations to have.

Lisa Frank

I have so much to say about how my experiences living in Israel (which is a virulently racist place) threw into relief my perception of race in America and how cultural capital (beyond just skin color) benefits white people over people of color, but I think the Caucasian Proverbs tag on Tumblr makes my points for me.

Ellie

@Lisa Frank Do you know what the one about hip-hop means? I don't get it.

Lisa Frank

@Ellie I think (and I have heard white hip-hop fans say similar things)it's referring to the trend that 80s and 90s hip-hop was more about life in the ghetto and the struggles of black people while late 90s and 00s hip hop was more about commercial success and conspicuous consumption, and to these white hip-hop fans there is something more authentically "black" about that earlier hip-hop. Because of course, white people are the arbiters of what constitutes authentic culture.

pajamaralls

@Lisa Frank I think you hit the nail on the head! It always seems to be the divide between "Conscious" rappers and all the other sub-genres of hip-hop out there.

Common vs. Chief Keef, I guess.

wee_ramekin

Shiiiiit. I actually have to *work* today, and what I really want to do is just keep clicking "refresh" on this post.

My two cents: I watched the first ~2 minutes of this, and already I'm cringing. The two white women who spoke just answered the question "Do you think you (as white women) think about race as much as black women do?", aaaaaaaaaaaaaand the first two speakers were like "Yeah! Totally! I'm liberal!" and "Yeah! Totally! I'm Jewish!".

I...I gotta call bullshit. As a white woman, I am almost 100% sure that I don't think about race as often as women who are not white do. I am priviliged because I only really think about race because I *choose* to, and also because I can decide WHEN and HOW MUCH I want to think about race. If I'm too tired, or have had a shitty day, or I just need to zone out, I don't really have to think about race; I imagine that it's the exact opposite for women who aren't white. To my way of thinking, there is no possible way a white woman could think about race as much as a woman who isn't white, no matter how "progressive" her parents were. It's just like how even the most in-tune man really has absolutely no clue what it's like to exist as a woman in this world.

I can already tell that this video is gonna be hard to watch. (ETA: That doesn't mean I think the effort wasn't worth it! I am really glad that these ladies had this conversation.)

han
han

@wee_ramekin I totally agree. White privilege really IS not having to think about race as much.

packedsuitcase

@han Totally agreed. I've tried to type out something like that in previous comments and ended up deleting them because I just can't make it come out right.

Where I struggle is how to make the jump to actually creating a better structure. I feel like anything I would say or suggest would still probably contain elements of my privledge, but I also don't want to just sit back and say, "Okay, tell me what needs to change and let's do it." But maybe that's the best way for me to help? I don't know. Ugh, I really don't know. But I want to help things change.

par_parenthese

@wee_ramekin Everything you said. Everything. This is what I'm trying to pound into the thick skulls of my students: you are white, middle-class Americans. You cannot begin to comprehend how many aces that gives you because you're too busy playing all your fucking aces.

I live in a city where busing is A Huge Thing, and based on ethnicity AND income, and I spent a class period with my sixth graders talking about education in relation to poverty and ethnicity and privilege and institutionalized racism. I felt like we needed to just talk about that and nothing else for the rest of the year.

And meanwhile I feel like such a fucking hypocrite because I ALSO cannot begin to understand how many aces I've been dealt because I'm too busy playing my aces. YARGH.

baked bean

@wee_ramekin Yes! My thoughts during the video exactly. I did watch the other videos in the series, because I am glad that they are doing this.

martinipie

I can't watch this right now but I am chiming in to say that no, white people--even the most progressive, educated, aware white people, myself included--are generally extremely unaware of the depth of our privilege, and beginning to understand that simple fact was and still is the biggest lesson I am continually learning every day I choose to live my life as a person who strives not to oppress others with my actions and words. I assume it will be a lifelong lesson that will only end for me personally when I'm off this earth for good.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I'm white and I guarant-damn-tee I don't understand the extend of my privilege. I have seen it, when comparing my situation in life to those of my friends who came from the reservations here in Montana; it's completely different. I am actively working to understand something that I will never fully grasp. But that isn't something that I should be commended for. I think people - white or straight or male or whatever - tend to fall into the "but look how progressive I am! Celebrate my efforts to understand The Other!" too much.

 clara morena

I mentioned here before, I’m a daughter of a Mexican Woman (Amerindian and Spanish) and a white guy from Minnesota. Thus I have an Anglo surname and most people tend to think I’m either Italians or Iberian until they see me speaking Spanish. Last year, I was accused from my old social group( all white) I was accused of “hating my white side” and “obsessed over race”. It took me a long time that my “friends“ were blinded from white privilege. Now, I told this to a another (Xicana )friend and she was pissed off by the comments that my old social group said. I took me a while to realized that I was under no obligation to teach them about their white privilege( or have them lecture me about Mexican culture) and I needed to find a new group of friends.

I’m much happier now ;)

Judith Slutler

@clarita I am so sorry that your old friends were such jackasses. How does your new friend group shake out, do you still hang out with some white people, or not so much? (man this question sounds weird, but I would like to know)

Valley Girl

@clarita I am half-Mexican with an Italian last name (but ID as Chicana) and have had so many ugly experiences like that with "friends" and acquaintances over the years. My favorite is when they go "Oh, you're Spanish?!?" (because all Latinos = Spanish) followed by them blatantly mentally reviewing all the times they might have said something bigoted.

 clara morena

@Emmanuelle Cunt I have not spoken to the old friend group in over 6 months :D. My current group of friends are 100000% times better. Two are Mexican-American, one girl is India, two are white. I still hang out with white people. The interesting part most of my friends were people of color and it really was not until college that I had white friends. So this was the first time that I had "friends" that said shit like to me(people who said that were my friends and not bullies).
One major offender is on my shit list for life. While I'm only Facebook friends with two( who are going to get defriended soon)

 clara morena

@Valley Girl hahaha
This usually happens to me
me: oh my Dad is from Anglo American from the Midwest and my Mom is Mexican
person: How did they meet?
Me: party.
person: wait, you mom is Mexican?
me:yeah?
person: wait, you speak Spanish?
me: Yeah?
and then a billion questions on my mixed ancestry and parents.

iceberg

OMG OK I just watched the video - what the fuck was that comment about being "brave"? Did she mean back when she was young and stupid she used to think that?! because wtf?

Scandyhoovian

@iceberg I sort of want to find that "you've met the minimum standard for calling yourself a decent human being" cookie for her, I almost get the idea she feels like she deserves accolades for thinking about race as a white woman.

Edit: HERE IT IS, and it comes from a gallery of all-purpose 'congrats for your minimal effort' cookies, found here!

baked bean

@Scandyhoovian LOL. Using those in the future.

Springtime for Voldemort

Somewhat related: How do you even have a productive conversation about race when literally everyone in the room is white? Because one of my Women's Studies classes this semester has a lot of intersectionality stuff (yay!) but exactly zero students of color. Which is basically normal for this campus, sadly. Are there guides out there someone knows of and could point me in the direction of for when none of the 20 black kids that attend your school are in your class?

Judith Slutler

@Springtime for Voldemort Can you invite some other profs who deal with racial issues in their courses to come talk to you?

Springtime for Voldemort

@Emmanuelle Cunt Ooo, I can try!

HMSBeagle

The white ladies were patting themselves on the back for being progressive.

I lived for a while in an Eastern African country. I was one of maybe five white people in a small town. I was treated like I was important, which bothered the shit out of me. On one memorable trip, my friends argued with an older man about how white people are 'kinder and better' than black people. Despite being out from under the thumb of colonialism for at least 30 years, white people privelage is so amplified in the country.

I visited Cape Town, South Africa with my boyfriend at the time (black), and he got so much shit for being with me. We went on a wine tour and stopped at a fancy restaurant in Paarl for lunch. All the servers were black or mixed and all the customers (aside from my boyfriend) were white. An old, richy rich white lady gave him hate eyes the entire time. It was so uncomfortable.

Racism is in the States is more covert, but maybe because I live in a big city? People have more exposure to different cultures. I don't know.

HMSBeagle

@hyaluronan ugh this was dumb of me. I'm sorry. I literally had just learned that we were putting down my cat. No, myself. No.

Sallymander

So, I don't understand this video/thread at all. I could be crazy since everyone else here seems to "get it", but I just don't. I can't begin to fathom exactly what is meant by "privilege", but discussions like this, where the participants are overwhelmingly white (and I'm guessing middle class and educated), have to be a manifestation of it.

Sallymander

@Sallymander To be clear, I don't get what seems to me to be the general message/question, which is "Oh gee I am SO WHITE; WHAT DOES THIS MEAN???". It doesn't mean anything. You are white/straight/wealthy/whatever; enjoy it and be a good citizen/neighbor. You don't have to think about race? Good for you! You are lucky. Maybe capitalize on your luck and use it to be happy and do good things with your life; any sane person would do the same in your situation. Neither I nor my children will ever be white, but I sure hope if your white-ness advantages you, that you use that advantage to some good purpose instead of merely "thinking about it" or what have you.

iceberg

@Sallymander I think you do get it. "I sure hope if your white-ness advantages you, that you use that advantage to some good purpose instead of merely "thinking about it" or what have you"

possiblepodbot

Remember when Morgan Freeman said that Black History Month is ridiculous, and that the only way to rid the world of racism is to stop talking about it? Yeah. That's kind of how I feel about that, and all this. Love/hate/befriend/marry/etc. someone based on who they are and their ideals and actions, not what they look like. Throw the rest out.

iceberg

@possiblepodbot Yes that would be lovely, in a vacuum, but it ignores basically everything that has ever happened and many things that are still happening. Add to that the fact that you cannot *force everyone* to just be excellent to each other, and you see why this philosophy might work on a personal individual level but does nothing to address the effects of history or any institutionalized problems.

The only thing not talking about racism does, in my opinion, is allow people *to whom it doesn't happen* to pretend it isn't happening.

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