Oriental Adventures, was it really that racist?

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Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
That's fair. I may have a misunderstanding there. Let's say I accept your definition. How insulting is it to the white people in poverty to tell them they have privilege in relation to Lebron James, when any bit of white privilege they have is miniscule in comparison to his 500 million dollar net worth privilege. I mean it's obvious that they technically have white privilege by your definition but still incredibly insulting. IMO.

I mean...JFC...the implication here that the only way these 'white people in poverty' will accept the notion of white privilege is if there are literally no successful blacks in America for them to compare themselves to. That as long as some, or even one, black person achieves great success, white privilege must be a myth.

Which is just so f'ed up I'm kind of dazed.

Which actually makes me think of Isabel Wilkerson again, who points out in "Caste" that often the staunchest defenders of a caste system are those on the lower, but not very bottom, rungs. That people near the bottom want to be able to point to a group even more reviled than themselves, and say, "At least I ain't one of them!"
 

That's fair. I may have a misunderstanding there. Let's say I accept your definition. How insulting is it to the white people in poverty to tell them they have privilege in relation to Lebron James, when any bit of white privilege they have is miniscule in comparison to his 500 million dollar net worth privilege. I mean it's obvious that they technically have white privilege by your definition but still incredibly insulting. IMO.
I think the first thing to take into account there is that having privilege doesn't mean you are automatically better off than anyone lacking your privilege. Even in the post you quoted, that should be evident simply because of the existence of multiple types of privilege. But fame or no, wealth or no, Lebron James could still find himself in situations where, due to the color of his skin, he could face significantly higher risk of harassment or physical harm than if he were white. More so even than a poor person who was white. All it takes is being in the wrong place, wrong time where his wealth doesn't apply and his fame isn't noticed. Then he's just another black guy living in a society where figures of authority often make harsher judgement calls against black people than white. And that's just one area where PoC are disadvantaged against white people.

If people know that and still feel insulted? That's on them.
 


Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Oriental Adventures was first published in 1985. At that time "Oriental" was not considered a racist term by default. Many universities still had "Oriental Studies" as a field of study into the 90s. University of Pennsylvania changed their department name to remove "Oriental" in 1991, University of Arizona in 1990, and that's just what I could find with a quick google search. TSR may not have been on the cutting edge of terminology, but you can't fault them for their usage of it at the time.

The mistake you are making here is to assume that because a term is socially acceptable it doesn't carry negative connotations. Often it just means that nobody bothers to ask the people it's describing. Or doesn't care what they are saying.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I think the first thing to take into account there is that having privilege doesn't mean you are automatically better off than anyone lacking your privilege. Even in the post you quoted, that should be evident simply because of the existence of multiple types of privilege. But fame or no, wealth or no, Lebron James could still find himself in situations where, due to the color of his skin, he could face significantly higher risk of harassment or physical harm than if he were white. More so even than a poor person who was white. All it takes is being in the wrong place, wrong time where his wealth doesn't apply and his fame isn't noticed. Then he's just another black guy living in a society where figures of authority often make harsher judgement calls against black people than white. And that's just one area where PoC are disadvantaged against white people.

If people know that and still feel insulted? That's on them.

And I want to reiterate that dealing with police is just one facet of privilege. Whites are more likely to get called in to interviews. To get favorable terms on bank loans, or to get the loans at all. To have mistakes (especially as kids) be forgiven and forgotten. To get help from strangers. Etc. etc. etc.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I mean...JFC...the implication here that the only way these 'white people in poverty' will accept the notion of white privilege is if there are literally no successful blacks in America for them to compare themselves to. That as long as some, or even one, black person achieves great success, white privilege must be a myth.
I don't think that's anyone's position. I think it's more contextual than that. It's not so much that they won't accept the notion of white privilege. It's much more that they don't accept the importance that's being placed on it especially since no other kind of privilege is ever mentioned in society at large (possibly in academic discourse).

Which is just so f'ed up I'm kind of dazed.

Which actually makes me think of Isabel Wilkerson again, who points out in "Caste" that often the staunchest defenders of a caste system are those on the lower, but not very bottom, rungs. That people near the bottom want to be able to point to a group even worse off than themselves, and say, "At least I ain't one of them!"
To me that seems like a very childlike way of viewing the world. People are around to ask their thoughts for why they take a particular position. Why does no one do that, instead of just blindly speculating about why they do something?
 

The mistake you are making here is to assume that because a term is socially acceptable it doesn't carry negative connotations. Often it just means that nobody bothers to ask the people it's describing. Or doesn't care what they are saying.

That's an interesting philosophical point, but not relevant to the question I was answering. I'm specifically talking about the social acceptability of the term (at a particular time), which is a highly relevant thing to understand when considering historical works.
 

Voadam

Legend
That's fair. I may have a misunderstanding there. Let's say I accept your definition. How insulting is it to the white people in poverty to tell them they have privilege in relation to Lebron James, when any bit of white privilege they have is miniscule in comparison to his 500 million dollar net worth privilege. I mean it's obvious that they technically have white privilege by your definition but still incredibly insulting. IMO.
If it is framed in the definitional context and not conflated with overall total benefits and juxtaposed with an individual rare economic outlier I would not call it insulting.

White privilege is generally framed as a matter generally applicable to White people as compared to Non-White people, and as a framework for evaluating systemic racial specific issues. Not as individuals or a specifically disadvantaged group versus Lebron James' net worth.

Oprah Winfrey existing and being successful and rich does not turn the concept of male privilege insulting.

People can choose to feel insulted by being described as having any privilege at all when they have a serious dimension of disadvantage (or even if they don't) but that is a choice.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
The mistake you are making here is to assume that because a term is socially acceptable it doesn't carry negative connotations. Often it just means that nobody bothers to ask the people it's describing. Or doesn't care what they are saying.
I don't discount that what you say here could be true. But someone offered evidence that the term was used in academic circles for many years after which is fairly persuasive evidence. Yet all you are offering is speculation that maybe those groups were offended by it at the time. Unless otherwise demonstrated I'd take the demonstrated academic use as the term being accepted for that particular use and maybe even preferred for it.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
If it is framed in the definitional context and not conflated with overall total benefits and juxtaposed with an individual rare economic outlier I would not call it insulting.

White privilege is generally framed as a matter generally applicable to White people as compared to Non-White people, and as a framework for evaluating systemic racial specific issues. Not as individuals or a specifically disadvantaged group versus Lebron James' net worth.

Oprah Winfrey existing and being successful and rich does not turn the concept of male privilege insulting.

People can choose to feel insulted by being described as having any privilege at all when they have a serious dimension of disadvantage (or even if they don't) but that is a choice.
Maybe that's how it should be used but I've seen it quite often being directed at the individual and when it is directed at the individual it does come across very insulting especially if they are very underprivileged in another area.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I don't think that's anyone's position. I think it's more contextual than that. It's not so much that they won't accept the notion of white privilege. It's much more that they don't accept the importance that's being placed on it especially since no other kind of privilege is ever mentioned in society at large (possibly in academic discourse).
You do realize “not accepting the importance” of it, or talking about “other kinds of privilege” is basically the same as saying it’s a myth, right? If there are lots of kinds of privilege floating around, and they are all more or less equal, then the implication is that they kind of cancel out. One guy’s white privilege is equal to (or less than!) another guy’s affirmative action, so we’re good, right?

No. Just, no.

But I’m realizing my ability to detect windmills is failing me, so I shall bow out.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
You do realize “not accepting the importance” of it, or talking about “other kinds of privilege” is basically the same as saying it’s a myth, right?
Fully Disagree. That's not the same thing at all.

But I’m realizing my ability to detect windmills is failing me, so I shall bow out.
Please don't insinuate bad faith. But by all means bow out if you wish. Nothing to hold against you there. Feel free to reengage at any time. No hard feelings on my side.
 

Voadam

Legend
That's an interesting philosophical point, but not relevant to the question I was answering. I'm specifically talking about the social acceptability of the term (at a particular time), which is a highly relevant thing to understand when considering historical works.
The East Asian Studies class I took in the 80s (in New England) discussed issues about it. The takeway then from the class was that Oriental was considered a term for things: "Oriental rugs" "The Orient" but that there were people who considered it insultingly objectifying to be called "Orientals" instead of Asians.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
The East Asian Studies class I took in the 80s (in New England) discussed issues about it. The takeway then from the class was that Oriental was considered a term for things: "Oriental rugs" "The Orient" but that there were people who considered it insultingly objectifying to be called "Orientals" instead of Asians.
Out of curiousity, Do you remember why they found it insultingly objectifying?
 

Voadam

Legend
Maybe that's how it should be used but I've seen it quite often being directed at the individual and when it is directed at the individual it does come across very insulting especially if they are very underprivileged in another area.
I should probably amend that. Discussions of privilege are also used to encourage individuals to think about their own privilege. Either in isolation on one dimension, or to think about multiple dimensions and which ways they have privilege and which ways they do not. Usually to encourage empathy for those without privilege and an appreciation for the privileges that people have.

Privilege can also be used rhetorically as a cudgel or as a way to denigrate someone's lack of privilege in another dimension. This is generally antagonistically divisive. This can go both ways.

"You are White so I don't have to care about the problems of poverty you face."
"You are not poor so I don't have to care about the problems of racism you face."

That is more the specific rhetorical use than the concept though.
 


FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I should probably amend that. Discussions of privilege are also used to encourage individuals to think about their own privilege. Either in isolation on one dimension, or to think about multiple dimensions and which ways they have privilege and which ways they do not. Usually to encourage empathy for those without privilege and an appreciation for the privileges that people have.

Privilege can also be used rhetorically as a cudgel or as a way to denigrate someone's lack of privilege in another dimension. This is generally antagonistically divisive. This can go both ways.

"You are White so I don't have to care about the problems of poverty you face."
"You are not poor so I don't have to care about the problems of racism you face."

That is more the specific rhetorical use than the concept though.
I've also often seen it used to dismiss other points of view. 'You couldn't understand because of your privilege'
 

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