To me, privilege implies conscious intent: when one does something, or expects something, because of some advantageous position. If, for example, he were to say to a police officer who stopped him while he was riding his bike around the senior community, "Hey, do you know who I am? I'm no troublemaker, and in fact I am considering moving into this place! So would it be if he said, "I'm free to take this wood from here--I'm a taxpayer in this township and what I am doing is actually improving this environment by clearing the trail.
Thank you for making explicit what I thought was implicit but clear in my confessions.
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And I like your choice of the word "advantaged" as more accurate than "privileged. There is something fallacious about one "considering one's race" in his decision to break the law. Is it the perception one of being somehow shielded from the consequences of one's volitional actions by one's skin? That would be fallacy. Anecdotal - I am white, middle-aged, and I drive a nice, shiny, new, late model vehicle.
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Every single time I exceed the speed limit, I am confronted with the red and blue lights. Even in my brother in law's car, a fire engine red Camaro SS. He's white, too. Once, I discovered a taillight out, stopped at an auto parts store and bought one, tried to drive the 12 blocks home, but guess what? I got stopped with the bulb in its package, sitting in plain view on the seat beside me. The bastard gave me a warning ticket. I suppose if I were black, and been taught that the po-po had it in for me, I might believe that it was for that reason.
And I might convince white people who want to believe it, that that is the reason. It's just not been my experience. I don't think so. If there were a white window peeker in my neighborhood, the ladies would take him down with baseball bats. If white skin were a magic force field protecting all white people from the consequences of their actions, there would be no white people in prison.
Anon, you asked for some studies. Psychology today won't allow me to post them I tried- the system rejects URLs, so I can't link to studies. However, you can use Google search to find them- there is a lot of research to support this. Googlw "racial disparities in the justice system.
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I wish I could link to tye studies, but do that Google search for racial disparities in the justice system, and you will see many studies on this. Also in middle school there was this Mexican kid who was being a jerk to me and my friends and stole the soccer ball from us, and in order to get it back I pushed him not hard so that I could quickly grab the ball back while he stumbled for a bit.
And yes stealing is just as much of a crime as pushing someone is to get back a stolen object. You may very well be experiencing discrimination for being white at your high school. If so, you have a valid complaint. It is still a fact that in many contexts nonwhites are discriminated against in ways that whites may not even notice. You're having another problem that you may come to understand better if you continue to read these blogs.
You are in a social environment where most of your rights and privileges have either been taken away or rendered meaningless. And that is true no matter your ethnic background.
Finally there is something you appear not to understand about the law. If someone speaks to my girlfriend in a way that is insulting and degrading, they are basically inviting me to fight them. But if I take them up on the offer and I just might , and throw the first punch in front of witnesses, then I can be charged with assault.
It will be called aggravated assault in recognition that I was provoked - but the person doing the provoking will be held not to have committed a crime at all. The kid who grabbed your ball away from you would not be considered to have "stolen" it no matter what his ethnicity, but you will have clearly demonstrated that you are no longer playing if you assault him, and that's why you could theoretically be charged with assault. Of course, as long as you did not go too far, there probably isn't a jury anywhere that would convict you.
But the school has its own rules, and could certainly expel you. By the way, when I was a kid I would have - and did, several times - responded the same way you did. It's just a matter of predicting what the consequences will be and deciding what you're willing to accept. In my experience saying " It's not right! Not unless you have a good lawyer. And can afford one. Which most of time means you're probably white.
If Peter Gray didn't have his nose up in the clouds assuming that as Mr. White-Guy-On-A-Bike he can do whatever he wanted when he wanted, his humility might actually put him at an advantage. Rather than secretly and illegally carting away downed tree limbs that might otherwise be placed through the government's wood chipper and returned to the ecotone of the park, he might realize there is a legal and positive way of obtaining a yard-full of legally obtained firewood. Boston, just like most cities runs an invasive species removal program.
If he bothered to go through the training he might legally be able to identify tree invasives like the Callery pear, Tree of heaven, White mulberry and Norway Maple.
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Boston would probably be pleased if Mr. Gray offered to remove these trees from areas they are targeting. The trees have great firewood potential. OR he could offer to haul off downed ash trees that have been harmed by the emerald ash borer. That would be a win win for all around. But that would take work, and a law-abiding citizen. Look at the larger context of the meaning and message of his article.
White privilege exists. Do you get that? I have to wonder if someone who can't communicate without calling people names like stupid and lazy is merely ignorant and obtuse, or more fundamentally dishonest in his or her intent. You are practicing a form of the "argument from intimidation". Look it up; you might learn something. Bravo for the excellent insights. The following article sheds valuable light on the topic. It's well worth a look. Barry, I don't see a link to the article that you mentioned.
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It sounds worthwhile. Did I miss it somewhere?
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Dear Anonymous, Your various comments have included a great deal of useful information--about the requirements of forests to retain fallen branches, about the various species of trees both wanted and unwanted "invasives" , about legal options for people like Peter Gray who collect firewood on public lands and how they could do so more helpfully for all concerned And your examples of ways in which you have felt the long arm of the law despite your whiteness are equally useful contributions to this dialogue in terms of unpacking what is, and is not, "white privilege". It seems pretty clear from the tone and some of the words of your message that you have great passion around these topics, and as a professional in the conservation field, this energy, when combined with your knowledge, is extremely valuable.
My wish is that you would consider making this knowledge more accessible by removing the personal attacks on the integrity of a fellow human being who, like the rest of us, is trying to live right and make positive contributions to the world. Your anger doesn't serve the interests of your cause; in fact, it detracts from it by making its venting seem more important than anything else. It's like the inner-city riots that burn down the very businesses that serve them and the homes of the poor people who live there; yes, they get attention, but at what cost?
And who really benefits from them? Please tell your stories about how we can all take better care of the environment, and how certain police officers can step up their game by better respecting the efforts of people of any color to be law-abiding, without putting yourself in the role of judged and executioner. It makes it really hard to benefit from your gifts when you do.
I wonder if this is white privilege or male privilege. I am a 60 year old white female the most invisible demographic , and I try to follow all the rules in society realizing that I may inadvertently break them because I don't want to get into trouble with the law. I would never do what the author is doing for fear of being caught. I note that my own male spouse speeds and takes chances way more than I do, even when there are patrols out in force.
I think it may be being a male entitlement males take far more risks relative to females then being white. Mary: As a little old well, middle aged I guess white lady, I agree that we are less likely, as a group, to exceed the speed limit and probably are more risk averse because female on the WHOLE, ymmv , I would say that as far as what he's talking about -- which is not what gives him the insane hubris to collect a few downed branches off the sidewalk, but how other people perceive him doing so -- my our?
Believe me! Actually, in the context of his article, I believe the most invisible demographic is the Person of Color, probably the Black woman. Look beyond the article and see life's experiences through the eyes of a Person of Color.
It's eye-opening at every turn. Peter comes across as entitled and thinks the world is his oyster. Rules are only there to be bent or broken depending on how he feels at the time. This is the reason whites get a bad wrap, douchebags like Peter. Yes this is white, wealthy male privilege. Anonymous, you make a good point about the value of decay in the woods.
I made that point myself in the blog post, in explaining why I would only take a little.
I didn't mention that I would never take any fallen branches except in places where there were lots of them covering and blocking the public hiking trails.