White Privilege, Hard Borders, and other Controversial Things I Sometimes Talk About

I fear I may have made some enemies in the last couple of days. I’ve been trying to keep my metaphorical mouth shut on some of these issues in order to minimize conflict (very INFJ), but I really have a hard time not voicing my opinion on things about which I care deeply and passionately (also very INFJ….alas).

I don’t mean to judge anyone here. I don’t know you in real life, so unless you post some pretty blatant remarks, I have no basis on which to judge you. That’s not my place, anyway. But I can’t just let some of the things go unchallenged.

Here are the main issues I tend to rail on about, and my basic position on them, if anyone cares.

White Privilege
In his book, The Racial Contract, Charles Mills challenges the idea that modern society is founded on the basis of the “social contract” (as described by Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau), wherein human beings in the “state of nature” decide, by mutual consent, to relinquish individual autonomy in favor of civilization. Instead, Mills demonstrates, the world we live in today is based on a different contract, discriminatory where the other is (or is supposed to be) equitable. Mills calls this the Racial Contract. The main points of Mills’s book are state that white supremacy originated in the colonial era and continues to pervade global society today; that this white supremacy should be understood as a political system; and that white supremacy can be conceptualized as being based on a contract between whites (the Racial Contract). Mills emphasizes that although all whites benefit from the contract (to varying degrees – certainly a rich man would benefit more than a poor man, and men typically benefit more than women), this does not mean that we are all signatories to the contract – in other words, we are not to blame for the situation, but morally and ethically we should do our best to move our world toward a more equitable system.

Hard Borders
As defined by Loren Lomansky, hard boundaries are “demarcation[s] not easily traversable at will which function to confer substantial benefits or impose substantial costs on individuals by virtue of which side of the line they happen to find themselves on”(1). The division of the world’s landmasses according to hard boundaries, then, creates a situation where some people are born into poverty and others into wealth. Those born into poverty have very little chance of overcoming this system to make a good life for themselves and their families. Hard international boundaries are maintained for political and economic reasons that fail to address the inequality created by such boundaries. I believe such hard boundaries, institutions that serve to restrict the movement of people between geographical or political areas, are morally indefensible, for the reason that hard boundaries violate human rights and perpetuate white privilege

(1) Scarpellino, Martha. “‘Corriendo’: Hard Boundaries, Human Rights and the Undocumented Immigrant.” Geopolitics 12 (2007): 330-349. Web. 15 August 2008.

I believe that all of the problems that restrictionists blame on undocumented immigration can be traced to capitalism, corporate greed and globalization, and their colonial and imperial roots. These forces have led to a constricting job market in the United States, a decrease in wages in relation to prices and profit, anti-American sentiment abroad that threatens our national security, and the overtaxing of the Earth’s resources. Furthermore, globalization has arranged the world’s wealth so that developed nations control the vast majority of, and the disparity between the global rich and poor is astronomical. Until the system based on the accumulation of material wealth is torn down and replaced with a system based on respect, integrity and compassion, our world will never be at peace.

These are the main issues, anyway. I also tend to go on about marriage rights and other GLBT issues, but not to the extent of the topics above.


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