Chicago Sun-Times
Discussions across the racial divide

Recently in Perceptions Category

What is white privilege?

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The following essay recently landed in my e-mail. The author is Tim Wise, and the article first appeared at, but I've heard the same sentiments expressed by friends and associates:

For those who still can't grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because "every family has challenges," even as black and Latino families with similar "challenges" are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a "fuckin' redneck," like Bristol Palin's boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about how you like to "shoot shit" for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

Column: Obama, McCain and race

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I can't be the only person who sees the snake in the room. The one that slithers away whenever the political pundits start explaining what the latest presidential poll means.

From the moment Barack Obama went from a wannabe presidential contender to a front-runner, the race factor curled up and waited to strike anyone who got too close.

Former President Bill Clinton got bit. So did the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

What constitutes "playing the race card?"

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John McCain accused Barack Obama of playing the "race card" from the "bottom of the deck" no less. I'm not sure anymore. What is the race card?

When is it appropriate to refer to a person's race?

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It depends.

For instance, I wrote a personal account of something that happened to me on Monday in which I referred to the person's race.

A reader from Berwyn had a problem with that.

Unequal justice?

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There's a perception among many in the African-American community that black and brown citizens are subjected to harsher treatment than whites by the criminal justice system. You may or may not agree. But how do you explain an incident, described for us by a professional African-American woman who witnessed the chain of events while waiting for the No. 6 CTA bus:

What she saw:

A dingy gold Ford Explorer stopped short in on Lake Park Boulevard in left lane just after going through a green light. The driver of the Explorer jumps out and stomps over to another SUV (a Honda) that had screeched to a halt just behind him. It's about 3:25 in the afternoon. Explorer yells, "You cut me off." Honda driver rolls down his window and argues back. A war of words ensues.

Column: Media's bias is showing

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What happened to Yasmin Acree, a 15-year-old girl who vanished from her West Side home on Jan. 15?

Yasmin, who is the niece of the Rev. Ira Acree, a local activist and outspoken critic of the Chicago Police Department, hasn't been seen since.

"At 15 years old, the only way she could take care of herself is if an adult is harboring her," Acree said. "If that's the case, it is illegal, and it is criminal."

In a five-part series last year, Sun-Times reporter Maudlyne Ihejirika wrote that 54 people, on average, are reported missing each day in Chicago. Just 2 percent of missing juveniles have been abducted.

But Yasmin doesn't appear to fit the profile of a teen who would run away.

On Tuesday morning, a caller left a message on my voice mail with an urgent request: "Please dig a little deeper into the Curtis Cooper death," the unidentified woman asked. "White residents don't want black residents in CHA property to come over to their property. The fence was really illegal. Nobody is talking about why a fence was put up in the first place. It was to separate the blacks from the whites."

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Perceptions category.

News is the previous category.

Stereotypes is the next category.

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