All Articles Tagged "privilege"

The Ryan Lochte Robbery Drama Isn’t About A Little White Lie, But Rather, Big White Privilege

August 18th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Ryan Lochte

AP Images

In the midst of all the time I’ve spent watching the Olympics lately, I had briefly heard the stories surfacing earlier this week that American swimmer Ryan Lochte and teammates Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and James Feigen had been robbed in Rio. I admit that I immediately assumed it was true, and went about my business. Why lie about something like that?

But once I heard that the swimmers, with the exception of Lochte, who had already flown home, were pulled off of their flights and detained, I had to look a little further. So I read multiple publications to get a better idea of why people who said they had been victimized would be treated like criminals, and just like that, things got murky. The “inconsistencies” in the swimmers’ stories weren’t small.

Aside from the fact that Lochte didn’t tell the police, but rather, the media that the swimmers were robbed initially, they went from claiming individuals dressed up as the authorities ran up to the taxi they were riding in to rob them to saying that they stopped at a gas station and one robber approached them, not plural.

Then there was the fact that Lochte went from saying a gun was put to his head during the robbery, to telling Matt Lauer of Today that the gun was just pointed in his general vicinity.

Then there was a reported surveillance video that the BBC claims shows the swimmers, after the robbery, returning to the Olympic village, “passing valuables through a metal detector, despite telling police that items had been stolen.” Lochte claimed they had their wallets and some personal items taken, but a watch and phones (usual targets for theft) were spotted in the surveillance.

And in that same video, they reportedly seemed upbeat as they returned home to the Olympic Village. Lochte told officials they left a party at Club France around 4 a.m. on Sunday, but cameras at the club show them leaving at 5:50 a.m. according to The New York Times. They didn’t get back to the Olympic Village until 6:56 a.m. according to a Rio newspaper. And when they arrived, based on the video, Judge Keyla Blanc de Cnop (who ordered the swimmers’ passports seized) said in a statement, “You can see the supposed victims arriving without signs of being physically or psychologically shaken, even joking amongst themselves.”

And now, to make matters worse, Brazilian police sources have told ABC News this morning that there is a video showing one of the swimmers breaking a door to a bathroom and fighting with a security guard at the petrol station they stopped at.

Still, Lochte told Lauer that he “wouldn’t make this story up.” His lawyer agrees. And one would hope he wouldn’t. Filing a false police report, under Brazilian law, is punishable by a fine or a jail sentence of up to six months. And yet, now his teammates, Conger and Bentz, reportedly told police a short time ago that the story was fabricated, according to the AP.

And while I watched people, namely White folks, try and slander Rio and Brazilian police, saying they should let it go and focus on trying to deal with the actual reports of robberies and crime “rampant” in the country (you watch City of God once and now you’re an expert on what’s going on over there), Twitter is calling bullsh-t, and so am I. I specifically call bull on this statement from Rio Olympic organizer Mario Andrada, who said, “These kids tried to have fun, they tried to represent their country to the best of their abilities. They competed under gigantic pressure. Let’s give these kids a break. Sometime you take actions that you later regret. They had fun, they made a mistake, life goes on.”

Only problem is, Lochte, the oldest motherf–ker of the group, is 32. He’s not a kid, as none of them are. And don’t let the colored hair fool you.

And most importantly, let’s stop telling people to focus on bigger issues or try to divert attention when White people get their hand caught in the cookie jar. When they use countries with checkered reputations, people with murky pasts and groups plagued with stereotypes as scapegoats for their behavior. When they lie to cover up bad behavior and have, on cue, people ready to classify them as “kids” who make simple “mistakes.” Lord knows our inherent bias allows us to pick and choose who gets to be a “dumb kid” and who gets to be a “thug.”

It’s part of the reason I was so disgusted with the likes of Taylor Swift after the whole Kanye West, “Famous” drama. Despite getting on the phone with this man and saying that she liked the idea of him saying that she still owes him sex because he made her famous (and that it was “really nice” of him to ask for her permission first) on the track, she backpedaled and told the world that she never heard the song, approved it, or had a conversation with West before it was released. To defend herself, she would say she never said it was okay for him to call her a “bitch” in the song, painting herself as the victim — yet again.

But let’s not act as though this doesn’t happen all of the time. When it takes a 4-year-old to stop a babysitter’s plan to claim she claim her employers were robbed by a Black man for the crime her boyfriend and friend committed. When a pastor lies about being shot and robbed by a “Black man.” The Ashley Todd mugging story. Charles Stuart. Susan Smith. And so on and so forth. Because the assumption, as I ignorantly once believed, was “Why lie about something like that?” Because there’s something bad to hide.

I say all this to state that such lies, and the penchant people have to believe them due to the notoriety of a certain person, place or thing, is incredibly dangerous. It continues to paint the worst picture possible of them (a country with rampant crime, the crazy rapper, the violent race) all while helping to promote a positive image of privileged people: The sweet and always victimized White country/pop singer, the Olympic golden boys, the genuinely good “kid who made a mistake.”

And again, I call bullsh-t.

I don’t know what may have happened. Maybe they really did act a complete fool in the gas station and needed a story to explain that situation. Maybe they were in a place they shouldn’t have been and someone did get robbed, so they had to cover their a–es. Maybe they just wanted some sympathetic attention. Who knows? But as developments continue to come in, the complete truth is going to come out eventually, and it will be time for these “kids” to be honest and for the people who constantly cape for them to back off and allow them to explain themselves. And that will be one story that I, for one, can’t wait to hear.

“It’s A Difference” Loni Love Tells Rachel Dolezal About Herself… And We’re Here For It

October 29th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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loni love tells rachel dolezal feat

Loni Love is a comedienne. She specializes in jokes. But when a pregnant Rachel Dolezal visited Loni and the women of “The Real,” she was very serious.

Dolezal is still out here telling the same story she was telling last year. Sitting on the couch, she told Loni, “White isn’t a race, it’s a state of mind and nothing about whiteness describes me.”

Loni wasn’t having it.

“Let me tell you something. I’m Black. I can’t be you. I can’t reverse myself. Let me tell you Rachel, if the police stop me…you can throw that off [referring to her wig] and show that nice, fine hair up under and you might get away. I may not. I may not even make it to the jail. So, it’s a difference.” 

And the church said Amen.

I don’t know who Rachel has been surrounding herself with since the days she was outed, but I’m glad that Loni took the opportunity to publicly tell her about her flawed thinking.

You can watch this particular episode of “The Real” on Monday, November 2.

In the meantime, watch the clip below.

When “Small Talk“ Isn’t So Small: Unpacking Power & Privilege When You Say “Hello”

May 16th, 2014 - By Kara Stevens
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A friend of mine was on a flight from New York City to London for business. He sat next to a white man and they engaged in a small talk and talk that was a little bit bigger than “small talk.” They talked enough to figure out that they liked each other.

After a while, the white man asked my friend, Shim, where he was from. When Shim, half-Ghanaian and half-Chinese, told him that he was African, the white man stopped speaking with him immediately.

Shim never found out why the hot-then-cold flight buddy rejected him, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to speculate that the white man did not like Africans, despite making an organic connection with the individual.

That story had me thinking about what really happens when two strangers introduce themselves in a business setting: what are the explicit and implicit messages, markers, and signals that influence our assessment of the other person’s worthiness or concept on normalcy? What makes one person decide that the person in front of them is worthy of their time or in the case of business, their money?  Is it religion, pedigree, fashion sense, occupation, sexuality, or political party affiliation? And how do we feel and respond when those that we met are not who we expect them to be based on our own biases, assumptions, and expectations?

In particular, I started thinking about small talk between black women in the professional setting. I have noticed that  it doesn’t take long before we are having conversations that move from the professional to the personal.  After a few exchanges of what we do, I have noticed that we pivot to discussions around black men, marriage, finding love, and church. While there is nothing necessarily wrong with these topics, conversations like these remind me that many of us walk — even in the professional setting — in the assumption that every black woman that we encounter is heterosexual, is Christian and is exclusively interested in finding and sharing their lives with black men.  Conversations that include, “How was your Easter?, “You know how it is for us single black women out here?” , “Pray on it,” or “Look at all of these fine men up in here” are not uncommon.

And as a black woman that lives on the margins of this seemingly light and innocuous conversations because I am not Christian, I feel slightly uncomfortable  when I share that I don’t read the Bible and that Easter and Christmas are not major events in my life. And to be honest, depending on how I feel, I may not share this part of my identity.

These types of conversations also make me aware of my own privilege in these conversations because I am married to a black man. No one is going to give me a side eye when I talk about how we met. In fact, I am often encouraged to share my advice and insight about our love.

But what about our black queer atheists sisters, our Muslim transgender divas in search of love, and our sistergirls that love the swirl that practice Santeria? How can we make sure that our introductions are not simultaneously exclusions?

Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at

Madonna, Chelsea Handler and White Woman Privilege

February 13th, 2012 - By Charing Ball
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How come every time a white woman entertainer feels the need to affirm herself, it is always a person of color who has to bear the brunt of her license of liberation?

Like for instance, last week Madonna took to the airwaves to express her “disappointment” with M.I.A, international electronica-star and rebel rouser.  You see, Madonna was gracious enough to invite M.I.A, along with Nicki Minaj, to engage in a little girl power by being muted (if you count the 30-second “verse” they were allowed to spit), cheerleading bookends to Madge’s awesomeness. However, M.I.A, being the bad girl she is, decided that doing all that wasn’t enough and flipped the bird at the camera.  Tsk, tsk. According to Madonna, who gave her two cents during a conversation with Ryan Seacreast, M.I.A.’s one-finger salute was simply “out of place” at a show characterized by “such a feeling of love and good energy and positivity,” and was totally a “teenager … irrelevant thing to do.”

This is coming from the woman whose claim to fame was using taboo religious imagery in “Like A Prayer,” putting out a book of pornographic self-portraits, gyrating butt naked in the banned from MTV “Justify my Love” video and only a few years ago, engaged in a little tongue action with both Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera on a music station known for appealing to young viewers. Likewise, how is a 51-year-old woman bouncing around in cheerleading outfits and pom-poms chastising others about maturity and relevance?  I love Madonna but she truly has some nerve. The queen of shock is policing another woman about how she chooses to be equally daring?  Classic.

But that’s not the only thing I’m irked about. Last week, a friend of mine posted a link on Facebook with Chelsea Handler dishing about her relationship with 50 Cent, particularly the reasons behind why they broke up. According to Handler, 50 had called her wanting her to listen to a conversation with his ex-girlfriend Ciara. She said that 50 said that Ciara wanted to get back with him and he wanted Handler to listen in, and I guess, mock the poor girls pleas for a second chance.

Handler, disgusted by 50’s immaturity, decided that she had enough. But in the mix of her telling him where to go with his childish antics, Handler also let something else out the bag. According to an interview with Howard Stern, Handler said, “I think I called him the worst thing you could say to a black person short of calling him the N-word. I said something like, you’re like a street person basically. Something along the lines of being a gangster, and it was really, really offensive and I hung up and I’ve never spoken to him again.” This was followed by a laugh.

When pressed about what exactly she said that wasn’t quite “n*****” but just as bad, Handler said she couldn’t remember but said that she said something like that. “I said, ‘You have no business even talking to someone like me, and it was very mean.’”