Home Opinions White activism is just as bad as Trump’s hate speech

White activism is just as bad as Trump’s hate speech

Photo by: Bri Watkins and Emily Sharp

If your activism is out of touch with the poor and people of color, then it is neither radical nor revolutionary. Many of us want to be excited every time we hear unwavering critiques of President Donald Trump, but there are standards we must uphold when engaging in political activism.

The term “white feminism” has become widely known in social media to describe exclusionary feminism. The term does not apply to feminists whose skin color is white, but to those whose focus is primarily on helping the wealthy elite.

Actress Meryl Streep recently gave a memorable speech during the Golden Globes that stands as a nearly perfect example of white activism. In her most notable problematic remark, Streep stated she and her fellow artists in the room belong to the “most vilified segments in American society right now.”

“Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners,” she said. “And if we kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”

To call the Hollywood elite “the most vilified segments in American society” is a little much, if not completely asinine. Yes, Hollywood is made up of immigrants from numerous countries, however, most of these immigrants are ridiculously wealthy and lead extremely comfortable lives that will go largely unaffected under Trump’s regime.

What about the poor, Meryl? What about people of color who don’t get million-dollar movie deals but are rather handed jail sentences for petty crimes by a racist judicial system?

Streep also attacked Trump for mocking a disabled journalist during the presidential primaries. However, she did so in an extremely ableist way by painting the reporter as someone who—because of his disability—lacked the capacity to fight back.

Similarly, but perhaps on a more grandiose level of repulsive behavior, are people praising former Mexican President Vicente Fox for his tweets to Trump stating Mexico will not be paying for any border wall.

As president, Fox came into office with a massive popular mandate but quickly betrayed the country by following the same corrupt ways of most of his predecessors. He now supports President Enrique Peña Nieto who has unthinkable amounts of blood on his hands and is leading an extremely murderous government.

In fact, Fox’s terrible treatment of Mexico and his disregard for the poor is the reason I, a Mexican immigrant, am here today. While I’m glad to be here, it is incredibly disheartening to see people I consider smart individuals praising the man culpable for so much destruction in my home country.

Any praise for Fox’s comments on Trump shows that the lives of people of color outside of the United States are worthless to many self-proclaimed liberals as long as they can make snarky jabs at Republicans.

It is wonderful to see people coming together against a man who has expressed so much hate, but we have to remember we cannot just throw underprivileged people under the bus and focus solely on the issues of wealthy white America.

We are not just fighting against Trump, we are fighting for something. We are fighting for a more just and inclusionary society that does not celebrate the elite but the people who are forced to struggle for better lives.

– May Olvera is a journalism junior


    • Originally from Mexico, moved to an upper middle class neighborhood in The Woodlands. I have plenty of privileges (like being able to pursue a formal education, being white-passing, having been able to obtain American citizenship, etc.) which I acknowledge and then try to use to bring other people to the table. I actually wrote another column about using your own privileges to elevate others who don’t benefit from those privileges, so feel free to read that as well! Thanks for the question.

  1. You seriously need to stop talking about “privilege”, unless it is of your own.
    Being “privileged, or not” does not make you any more right or wrong.
    This is why liberal causes are failing. Liberals have stopped making arguments based on FACTS and bringing evidence, but many have instead adopted a lazy activism where they just shout catch phrases out loud that and hope if they say it enough it will be enough people will believe them. They have become so weak minded that they can not listen to opposing sides and see things from another view (even if it is “wrong”, it helps to see the reasoning of opposing views)

    Yelling about “Check your privilege” accomplishing NOTHING! it is lazy, and it hardly has any meaning.
    You use it to try and discredit someones views because you feel they belong to a separate group.
    Often times it is used on every day working people because they are white, straight, male, christian, or any combination… but you do not know their life story. Instead you use your own stereotypes, prejudices and assumptions to attack someone, not on what they say, but on who they are? Do you know see the problem with that? It others and divides even those who may agree with you.

    Besides, everyone has “privilege” in some way or another. You have the privilege to be alive, to walk, to be able to communicate, to go to school, to have a bed… etc.
    having privilege discredits nothing.
    Even if you are attacking them because they are clearly very wealthy and you are not, their wealth does not discredit them, maybe their lack of knowledge of life in poverty does though. you need to attack that. They very well could be wealthy, but still know of poverty.

    Instead of talking about their privilege as a way to discredit someone. You need to instead create discourse with facts and reasoning to debate the argument. If you just use virtue signalling and identity politics to back your statement; sure you may be able to convince weak minded individuals, but you only discredit yourself and seem as though you do not know what you are talking about.

    This is why liberals lost. Facts matter above all else, if you act like an idiot it will only hurt liberal causes. It is no better than conservatives.

    • I’m sorry you feel attacked by the mention of privilege, however I believe I’ve made it abundantly clear that privilege is neither goood or bad, but a neutral truth of the society we live in today. Like I said, I myself have plenty of privileges; however, I believe that those privileges come with the responsibility of using them for some good in the world, not for other people who are privileged in the same ways I am, but for people who lack the specific privileges that I have.

      I agree, yelling “check your privilege” isn’t helpful. Yelling at anyone willing to learn isn’t helpful. Having conversations with people and being able to engage in self-criticism is. It’s important to analyze the ways in that our own privileges affect how we act and how it works in the world around us. Privilege is not an insult, privilege is a neutral reality that we have to work on understanding.

      And I don’t identify as a liberal.

      I appreciate your comment, thanks!

  2. Oh, and to add one more thing: I completely agree that you can’t assume someone’s absolute privilege because they are white. In fact, I do also agree on that being a major reason that Democrats lost and continue to lose. Impoverished white people are alienated by Democrats because many Democrats don’t acknowledge the fact that working class white people lack plenty of privileges. But how is that fixed? By analyzing their material reality, which includes privileges and lack of.

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