White Privilege Wedding: Justin Timberlake + Jessica Biel

You may have seen this story making the gossip rounds: at Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel’s wedding, Timberlake’s longtime real estate agent made a congratulatory gag video, featuring footage of homeless people from L.A. giving the couple their congratulations.  Gawker went public with it yesterday, and their write-up covers its “greatest hits,” as it were:

After the guests at Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel’s wedding were whisked to southern Italy via private jet last week, they were greeted by a video produced by Timberlake’s longtime pal, L.A. real estate agent Justin Huchel. The video had a gag: Huchel hit the streets of Los Angeles and asked a bunch of homeless people, street musicians, and transexuals to wish the multimillionaire newlyweds well. Funny, funny stuff.

The 8:30 video featured street interviews with ten people, many of them obviously homeless, premised on the idea that they were friends of Timberlake and Biel’s who, for whatever reason, couldn’t quite swing the trip to the Borgo Egnazia resort in Puglia for the nuptials, which were reported to cost $6.5 million. “Greetings from Your Hollywood Friends Who Just Couldn’t Make It,” reads the opening title card, “Featuring Sid, Chuck, Robert, and More!” Sid, Chuck, Robert, and others appear to be penniless and living on the street. Some of them are obviously intoxicated, mentally ill, or both, and at least one of them is entirely incapable of speaking.

“Justin and Jessica, I haven’t seen you for a long time,” one toothless man tells the camera. “I hope the wedding goes fine for you. My gift is in the mail.”

A male off-camera voice, apparently Huchel’s, asks the man when he last saw Timberlake and Biel, adding, “Did you and Jessica mess around?”

At one point, after commentary from an apparently transexual man, Timberlake’s “SexyBack” is played in the background.

Another glassy-eyed apparently homeless man woozily tells the camera, in a lengthy and rambling monologue, “Jeez I miss you so much. I wish I could be there.” (“There” being the $1,000-plus a night Italian resort hanging out with guests like Jimmy Fallon and Andy Samberg. “Here” being behind what looks like a McDonald’s.) Others mumble unintelligibly in response to questions about when they last hung out with Timberlake and Biel. When one shirtless man says he saw them at the L.A. Coliseum, the male voice asks, “were you performing with them?”

I’d also suggest watching the video yourself, available at the top of the Gawker post.

So there we go.

For much of my life, I had no idea what white privilege was.  Because I lived in a town where white privilege went unquestioned, it was invisible to me.  I don’t blame my parents for this; I don’t even (entirely) blame my education for this.  My high school was operating within the system of white privilege, which works very, very hard to make white privilege invisible.   If it were visible, then it would be questioned.  In my school district, one of the junior highs had the mascot “Sacajawea Braves” — which, until about ten years before, had been the Sacajawea Savages.  And no one ever said anything about it.  The fact that a school governed by white people, in a predominantly white town, could get away with calling the people associated with Sacajawea “Savages,” or even “Braves” — that’s white privilege.  That I never was made to think of my own race an actual race — that’s white privilege.  There’s a privilege inherent to not having to think about your own race, to not having to think about not offending other races.

One of my favorite distillations of white privilege comes from the work of Peggy McIntosh, who authored a clear list of all the things that white people don’t have to worry about.  I copy it in full because it is just so f-ing incisive:

As a white person….

1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.

3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.

7. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.

8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

9. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.

10. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.

11. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person’s voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.

12. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.

13. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.

14. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.

15. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.

16. I can be pretty sure that my children’s teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others’ attitudes toward their race.

17. I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.

18. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.

19. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.

20. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.

21. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.

22. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world’s majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.

23. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.

24. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the “person in charge”, I will be facing a person of my race.

25. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.

26. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.

27. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared.

28. I can be pretty sure that an argument with a colleague of another race is more likely to jeopardize her/his chances for advancement than to jeopardize mine.

29. I can be pretty sure that if I argue for the promotion of a person of another race, or a program centering on race, this is not likely to cost me heavily within my present setting, even if my colleagues disagree with me.

30. If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.

31. I can choose to ignore developments in minority writing and minority activist programs, or disparage them, or learn from them, but in any case, I can find ways to be more or less protected from negative consequences of any of these choices.

32. My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races.

33. I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.

34. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.

35. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.

36. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had racial overtones.

37. I can be pretty sure of finding people who would be willing to talk with me and advise me about my next steps, professionally.

38. I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person of my race would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.

39. I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.

40. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.

41. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.

42. I can arrange my activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of rejection owing to my race.

43. If I have low credibility as a leader I can be sure that my race is not the problem.

44. I can easily find academic courses and institutions which give attention only to people of my race.

45. I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to experiences of my race.

46. I can chose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.

47. I can travel alone or with my spouse without expecting embarrassment or hostility in those who deal with us.

48. I have no difficulty finding neighborhoods where people approve of our household.

49. My children are given texts and classes which implicitly support our kind of family unit and do not turn them against my choice of domestic partnership.

50. I will feel welcomed and “normal” in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.

 

That is white privilege, and white privilege is real.  We have a black man as president, but that doesn’t mean that these assertions don’t hold true.  To be white in America means to be privileged; to deny as much is to deny the realities of lived race relations in the world today.  I am not saying that this is awesome.  I acknowledge that I benefit from white privilege every day of my life, but that doesn’t mean that I think that this is the way things should be.

And no where does privilege manifest itself as overtly as celebrity culture.  Now, I anticipate the initial counter-arguments: lots of non-white people are celebrities! Indeed, some of the *biggest* celebrities are, in fact, non-whites! Obama! Beyonce! Jay-Z! Kanye West! Denzel! Crucially, the concept of “white privilege” doesn’t mean that people who aren’t white can’t be celebrities.  It just means that those people don’t have the behavioral latitude as white celebrities.  Take, for example, the backlash against Obama’s First Debate, when he didn’t bring the “anger” — as Chris Menning explains, “When reading articles that laud Mitt Romney for winning, keep in mind that they’re celebrating the fact that Mitt Romney can get away with behaving like a white man and Barack Obama, the President of the United States, still can’t.”

In short: white people can get away with all sorts of egregious shit because they are the ruling class.  Non-white people (an overarching conflation I hate, but that works here) cannot.  White privilege has been all over the rhetoric attached to this election: Mitt Romney has connections to the company that controls voting technology, which is, overall, okay; imagine how people would deal with that if Obama had such connections…..or imagine how differently people would treat an “underage” pregnancy on the part of a white candidate and the same on the part of a black candidate.  Privacy, indifference — that’s what white privilege grants.

And that’s what’s in overt display at Justin Timberlake’s wedding to Jessica Biel.

I’ve been public in my celebration of the boringness of this wedding.  It’s a “secret” wedding that somehow managed to garner the cover of People — I call bullshit.  This was a highly orchestrated, ostensibly secret wedding primed to promote its two stars, both of whom are struggling with their Hollywood careers.  (Biel is tanking; Timberlake, who’s made it very public that he’s concentrating on acting, will make or break his career with his turn in the Coen Brother’s next film).  Fact is, the wedding was a classic celebrity affair: public event masked as intimate affair.

Which makes the video mentioned at the beginning of this piece all the more egregious.  Justin Huchel (who is white and privileged) put the video together.  Sure, it’s humorous.  Sure, it’s possible that Huchel paid the partipants, thus (ostensibly) negating complaints that he exploited them.  But the fact remains: at a party full of (almost entirely) white, privileged people, this video was presented with the specific purpose of amusement.  People of color, people of ambiguous gender, people of explicitly lower class — employed for amusement.  It’s a white person’s privilege to produce this video, and it’s a white person’s privilege to think that this is funny.  To be blunt, it is privilege that allows these testimonies to be funny.  Absent that privilege, they are singularly tragic.

You might think I’m overreacting, or too sensitive, or need to be reminded that this was all in jest.  To repeat: the idea that this sort of action could be “all in jest” is a product of white privilege.  It is, plain and simple, exploitation, and exploitation of the disenfranchised.  Arguing that it’s “just a joke” is tantamount to arguing that systemic race and class exploitation is “just a joke.”  This sort of behavior is a symptom of the greater, systemic disease.  That’s the sad, totally shameful truth.

Generally speaking, I like Justin Timberlake.  I don’t like Jessica Biel, but that’s because I think her image is boring — not because, to this point, I thought she was a racist.  I understand that Timberlake and Biel did not spearhead this video.  But they have spearheaded its cover-up, as clearly illustrated in the letter sent to Gawker upon its publication of this information.  This was, as the lawyer explains, intended as a “private joke” at Timberlake’s wedding, and not meant for further distribution.  Again, that’s white privilege: the idea that you could create an explicitly racist, classist, exploitative text and assume that it would go no further, and that if it did, that you could shut it down with a letter to the editors of Gawker.  Critique Gawker all you will, but you must admire its defiance.  Granted, Gawker is headed by a white male, and that’s part of what has made the site historically viable.  This post undoubtedly garners a lot of page views, but it also speaks truth to (white) power…and in a way that white people can’t possibly disavow.

This petite-scandale won’t do much to Timberlake/Biel’s image.  They weren’t responsible for it, per se, although they are, without doubt, responsible for cultivating an environment in which this sort of behavior would be considered okay/humorous.  I don’t know how, or whether, we should blame other attendants of this wedding for calling attention to it before it went public.  Would Jimmy Kimmel make a public statement about this sort of thing before it was made public?  No.  Again, that’s white privilege: the ability to ignore.

But I hope that this incident has the same effect on you as it does on me: reminding me how insidious white privilege can be while reminding me to call attention to it in our own lives, whether we’re white or not.  The only way to interrogate and, eventually, challenge privilege is to make it visible.  That’s the goal of this post, and hopefully it will become yours as well.

35 Responses to “White Privilege Wedding: Justin Timberlake + Jessica Biel”

  1. Colleen says:

    Thank you for this post! I am a long-time reader of your blog, and always enjoy it, but this was particularly insightful and important. Generally I’m a lurker, but I was afraid that maybe you would get negative feedback (usually your commenters are great, but this IS the internet and you mentioned the R-word) so I wanted the first comment on this to be positive :)

  2. @sarahspy says:

    im really glad to have read this post, too. i know i benefit from my own white privilege every day as well, but it makes a difference to actually read that list of specifics & internalize what this actually means/looks like.

  3. Maura says:

    Thank you so much for writing this!

  4. Aly says:

    Excellent piece!

  5. Mackenzie Kelly says:

    I am white. I am old. I was raised white. I was taught good manners, social as well as table, so that I would be comfortable in any community. I was taught to be independent and my actions were accepted even though they were at odds with my parents’s wishes. I grew up in a segregated Washington, DC during WW2. I’ve seen the changes through the years and have never doubted the role that good manners play in life. I am appalled that the current racial divide has lost out to loutish behavior. “You lie” shouted out as the President spoke is a prime example of insulting behavior and got NO response from the VP or the Speaker. This event has set the tone of this election cycle.

    • Frank says:

      It’s not rude to call a liar, a liar.

      • JM says:

        I agree. It is not rude to shout anything, especially “liar,” at the the President of the United States whilst he is addressing you and the nation. It is unpatriotic. If you are American, he is YOUR president whether you like it or not, and he is owed the respect that the position carries.

      • M. says:

        Agreed with JM. Besides, it absolutely would not happen to a white male president (unless the person was drunk or mentally ill). It’s more socially acceptable to degrade the position of someone who’s part of a degraded group of society, even if they are at the highest post in the world. Sad.

      • Mackenzie Kelly says:

        Another lout outed.

  6. Lexa says:

    I just discovered your blog today. Where have you been all my life? This could be better than Crazy Days and Nights.

  7. Insightful and well-written. Thank you.

  8. Sarah says:

    It’s not only white privilege, it’s white upper-class privilege. There is nearly as much difference (in cultural capital, access, agency) between the very poor and upper-middle/rich whites as there is between whites and blacks of the same social class.

    • Maddi says:

      Agreed. I am “white” per the Census, however I’m Hispanic by my self-identification having been born to minority parents. I understand that Hispanic is not a race, but feel that “white privilege” is not a luxury afforded by all “white” people. I grew up not having these white privileges, but thanks to my determination to educate myself and move up in the professional arena, I have become what some would consider an upper-middle class woman and only now do I find that I am exposed to any of these white privileges. Money, not race, is what has allowed me to at least be a parttime privilege recipient. My college roommate came from an affluent African-American family and when I shared this page with her, she said that her pre-college life would meet the standards of “white privilege” simply because her father’s name meant something in their community and their financial status was well known.

      • ms says:

        At the end of the day, your african american roommate is still judged by the color of her skin, despite what class status she came from. It’s easy to be oblivious to it. But when she has children, she will still have to worry about her son being shot and killed purely because of his skin color. This reality will affect her and the generations that follow. I appreciate your hard work and I’m glad it paid off. But the white privilege was there if you weren’t followed every time you walked into the mall of an affluent area. You’re roommate can choose to pay attention to it, or she can choose to ignore it. Class privelage has a lot to do with this, but to be honest, no one is considering how much money I have when I go to class and am the ONLY African American student in a class of 300. I would love to take a science class and not have to deal with that every day. It’s discouraging. My class status is not really a factor when I find myself having prove my intelligence on a DAILY basis, and having others doubt the reason I was even accepted to my university. Again, I do appreciate your determination and applaud all your efforts. You can be an inspiration to so many.

    • M. says:

      Exactly as Sarah said. This article points a finger at racial privilege when, given the facts, it is mostly about class privilege.

      • KS says:

        But she is also making the point that even among the upper-class, whites have more latitude than non-whites. Your friend was given latitudes similar to white people because her father was well-known in the town, but she’d have to prove herself as worthy of similar privileges all over again to the average white stranger in another part of the country – regardless of how well she was dressed. A white person wouldn’t have to do that.
        So yes, the video and this post CERTAINLY involve classism, but racial privileges cut across all classes of people.

  9. Marjoram says:

    I love you. (In a total stranger who loves what you have said here kind of way, of course). This piece has made my day. As WoC I can tell you that whenver this topic comes up I shrink because there’s this huge backlash that says “You’re just a hypersensitve neurotic woman” and I hate that it makes me feel small and I hate that people don’t see it. I love that you do and that it affects you strongly enough that you write about it.

    Thank you.

  10. Kristina says:

    This makes me think of this quote by Chris Rock from his “Kill the Messenger” stand up:
    ” I will give you an example of how race affects my life. I live in a place called Alpine, New Jersey. Live in Alpine, New Jersey, right? My house costs millions of dollars. [some whistles and cheers from the audience] Don’t hate the player, hate the game. In my neighborhood, there are four black people. Hundreds of houses, four black people. Who are these black people? Well, there’s me, Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z and Eddie Murphy. Only black people in the whole neighborhood. So let’s break it down, let’s break it down: me, I’m a decent comedian. I’m a’ight. [applause] Mary J. Blige, one of the greatest R&B singers to ever walk the Earth. Jay-Z, one of the greatest rappers to ever live. Eddie Murphy, one of the funniest actors to ever, ever do it. Do you know what the white man who lives next door to me does for a living? He’s a fucking dentist! He ain’t the best dentist in the world…he ain’t going to the dental hall of fame…he don’t get plaques for getting rid of plaque. He’s just a yank-your-tooth-out dentist. See, the black man gotta fly to get to somethin’ the white man can walk to.”

  11. Kristin Leigh says:

    This is a great post, and pretty clearly sums up what is so wrong with this situation.

    I would also note that the man who masterminded this video is not only Justin Timberlake’s real estate agent; JT has in the past called him his “best friend.”

  12. Maria says:

    It is important, and it’s also important to let the readers know that the list was compiled in 1988. We’ve come a long way, but not long enough. The sad part is that after 24 years people still recognize the list as accurate.

  13. Erin says:

    Sarah, that’s true to some extent, but class isn’t immediately apparent the way that race and ethnicity always will be – a poor white person doesn’t even have to try to “pass” to be given all the privilege that an average, middle class person receives every day. Nine out of 10 times, they will just be given that privilege. Maria, I liked that you reminded us that this list was written almost 25 years ago! I CAN’T BELIEVE WE STILL NEED TO EXPLAIN WHITE PRIVILEGE in this day and age or that people are still being exposed to Peggy McIntosh for the first time. It’s terrible.

    • Jones says:

      Not to split hairs and get away from the main point of this piece, which is incredibly on point, but class is very often easily visible in the clothes people wear, the way they talk, the way they conduct themselves, etc. Humans are very good at reading status.

      Of course then you get the instances where people of colour or women get “read down” as belonging to a less socio-economically powerful class or position if the signals aren’t overwhelmingly clear. But that doesn’t mean that class isn’t generally pretty apparent.

      • Peeples says:

        I am a Black girl who comes from a low-income home yet I get read as a middle class often because of the way I speak and dress, alongside with the fact that I’m in college. This does not stop store clerks from following me around stores nor does it stop people from being white normative or explicitly bigoted. This does not stop White professors and White people, in general, from condescending to me or ignoring me because they believe that the White or lighter skinned students must be smarter, prettier, or somehow better than I am. Plus, a lot of those markers for social class that you speak of are, in fact, White normative.

        For instance, I know middle class Black people whose signals aren’t “overwhelmingly clear” to White people only because they do not speak the way White people expect them to, they do not dress the way White people expect them to, and they are generally not carbon copies of White middle class people. Class does have its baggage, but I know very well that white privilege is often looming over Black people no matter what their socioeconomic class is.

      • Jackie says:

        One of the biggest things that made me upset was when people complemented Barak Obama on how well he spoke during his first presendital campaign. Of course he speaks well he’s: an Ivy League graduate, former Lawyer, former state senator, and is currently running for POTUS. Why wouldn’t he speak well?

        What that “compliment” means is, “Black people normally don’t speak well and sound highly unedcated. But you speak like me, so congratulations!” No one has ever said this entire election or past election about how well they speak in this kind of context.

        In instances like this class does not have greater standing. Just like with JT, these situations have way more to deal with race and how people are perceived, no matter how much money you have.

  14. zeldafitz says:

    thank you for this. just like with “rape jokes,” the people laughing have to acknowledge to themselves some pretty terrible things in order to think the “joke” is funny here. this merely begins with acknowledging that OF COURSE Justin and Jessica would never be friends with these people! they’re homeless and not white and not cis and they’re icky! so it’s funny! get it?

  15. Amber says:

    I have to say that as a black women, a lot of this is true. I grew up in the suburbs of Wisconsin, and went to private schools all my life. Living that life only made “White privilege more apparent”. It’s tiresome and quiet annoying always feeling like I have properly represent for the rest of my race. People seemed shocked when they find out that I am well spoken like it isn’t a common occurrence. Not to mention, no matter how hard my parents tried to properly raise me and assimilate me with “White culture” (for my own good and success even though it shouldn’t have to happen like that) I have always been second rate.

  16. Nik says:

    I really appreciated this post. That video was horrifying, but easily could have been chalked up to “out of touch celebs being celebs!’ I thank you for providing this insightful commentary and (per usual) awesomely applying analysis that can be applied to society.

  17. Kisopweneotin Iskwew says:

    Thank you so much for this post, and for sharing the information on white privilege. I am a mixed race Indigenous woman, and have much familiarity dealing with well-intentioned folks with white privilege as the leader of a non-profit charitable organization that provides services women in need. Your insights are profound, appreciated, and I really enjoyed your article.
    Kinanaskomtin. (Thank you!)

  18. M. says:

    Certainly there are intersections between racism/classism and there is the fact that marginalized members of society tend to also be most financially disadvantaged but how did ~this~ particular scenario become about race and race alone? Having not seen the video but having read this post and Gawker’s article, the only reason I can glean why you chose to center this on racial privilege alone was because there were a few ethnic minorities in the homeless video..?

    You and I both know that even if all homeless people were white it would still never occur to Hutchel to put himself in their shoes; which is what this is really about. Hutchel saw people in some of the most disadvantaged positions in the world, people who were mentally ill, drunken, or simply unfortunate and thought it would be funny to joke at their expense. Witnessing their suffering (whether white or black) had no affect on him, because they looked so different from the characters in his reality. This is about classism, but it intersects with ableism and general lack of empathy.

    However, not having seen the video (can’t be accessed on my comp), if it turned out that all of the people in that video were ethnic minorities then it does make sense for it to be made into a racial issue AS WELL. But not JUST a racial issue when it has so many intersections of privilege. Your article would be better titled “Kyriarchal Privilege Wedding”. But why do I bother? You never answer these things anyway.

  19. One Woman says:

    This is EXCELLENT. Thoughtful in ways that many people dare not think. Thank you.

  20. Right on Anne. Falling into the trap of “If it doesn’t affect me/my life, then the problem can’t possibly exist,” can be so easy when one is part of the privileged majority. (Being white and middle class, I try to remember such inherent advantages at all times). You’re not being overly sensitive in the least, as there is *NOTHING* humorous in mocking someone else’s race/sex/gender/mental or financial status in comparison to your own. I’m saving & printing this article to have on hand the next time someone brings up “reverse racism,” says “racism no longer exists,” or claims people like you and I are need to lighten up because we’re making a big deal over nothing. I contend more people need to pull their heads out of their asses and utilize the gray matter between their ears.

  21. As someone who is not white, I find that in even discussing the idea of white privilege, I am attacked. I am Indian and am doing just fine and have had my own run ins with racism, but I have not really been held back by much. This is just kind of one of those things that really speaks of the lack of empathy that some people feel towards those who don’t have decent privileges, means to live, etc.

    I don’t think this is a reflection of Timblerlake and Biel who just received the “raucous” video (hardee har har), but it does speak to how removed Hollywood (and many) are removed from the poverty that really does exist in this country.

    Kiran

  22. Caridad says:

    I’m so glad this post went viral. People should be reading it and grappling with it. One of the ideas it’s got me wrestling with is whether this is about race or class. The author of the White Privilege Knapsack list would say that it is definitely about race before it is about class. If you have generally always been surrounded by people of your own (majority) race, it’s easy to say it’s about class.

    On a very semi-related note, in Jeanette Walls’ “Glass Castle” the (white) author recalls a time when her professor called her out on an opinion about homelessness. Her professor’s first question to her was, “What do you even know about homelessness?” and the author didn’t have the guts to say that she had essentially been homeless most of her life. From what I could see, her professor’s first assumption was that, because she was white, she would not know about homelessness. If she had been a minority, it’s likely the professor might have made room for her to share from her experience.