Category Archives: sociology

What Gov 2.0 is making me think

I think we are getting enough examples of what the internet does to things back in the real world to start extracting some possibly slightly predictive behavioral patterns.

The one I think is really important for .gov is that the internet eventually destroys institutions whose main purpose was physical mediation of otherwise interested but unconnected parties. Over time, those middle layers will simply go away. They have to, because they are transformed (through no fault of their own) from conduit to barrier. The transformer is environmental- the internet is kind of ice-9 that way. But this is not a binary, smooth, fast, or simple transition, and the people in the middle of it are understandably confused and angry.

This is why record companies and newspapers are pissed off and pissing other people off that can’t figure out why they won’t just cease to exist. This is painful and hard. This is so painful and so hard that we have an aversion to seeing which institutions are next. Physical mediation is a good starting point to think about it: so what parts of governments exist to physically deliver something that can be described as information? Those parts will eventually go away. They can go away gracefully, or they can not go away gracefully. Government has a possibly unique ability to make that transition as non graceful as possible, but I doubt even it has the power to stop the process altogether.

When I first consulted with all sorts of companies in 1995 about their very first web pages, every one of them did a variation of the same thing: put their catalog or brochures on the web! How cool is that! Not actually that cool, I tried to humbly suggest. “The net,” I said repeatedly until my coworkers were ready to hurl, “is a conversation.” Many of these companies and organizations had never really conversed with anyone connected to them. It never had come up. Learning what that meant is each case has made the last 13 years completely fascinating.

I feel a little like the database fetishism I am seeing is a version of the catalog idea. There is nothing wrong with putting your catalog online, but it’s a serious misunderstanding of the net to think that the net is going to let you do the same thing as printing out all your data and sending it to everyone in the world, only without paying for postage. To explain how it’s different I’m going to dodge the question by hiding behind Tolstoy- pre-internet institutions are all alike, post-internet institutions are structurally disrupted in their own ways.

Like stages of grief, we need to figure out the stages of internet integration for institutions. I suspect grief is in there.

More as my head breaks.

Publishers perishing

It’s arcane. It’s hidebound. It’s niche, intentionally obfuscated, and elitist. It’s written almost entirely in -cue retching noises- passive voice. That’s right, it’s the world of academic publishing, boys and girls! A world not only irrelevant to most people’s lives, but anti-relavant, deriving its sense of status from exactly how far up its own ass it can crawl. (Ok, that’s a bit harsh. But… you know who you are.)

For reasons that run in the same direction as but aren’t exactly like my copyright interests I am fascinated with methods of publishing in the world of academic journals. By methods of publishing I mean Open Access and alternative models to traditional peer review. Since a 2006 article for Seed which I over researched in my unfortunate way (‘here’s 4000 words of your 1300 word article… pick the ones you like’) I have known more than is useful about the changes in both, and their complete irrelevance to one another. Well, nearly complete. OA journals can be peer reviewed in any ol’ way, even the ol’ way, but toying with peer review models doesn’t really work with the old print system, so it helps to have some OA platform to play on. But let’s ignore changes in peer review. Assume all journals use the same system of rigor, and that it produces the same result. (Ahem.)

OA means simply this: you academic journal is published online, free and available to all comers. It sounds weirdly like The Pirate Bay, or Grokkster or something, but there’s a few important differences. The people that write in academic journals do it for impact, not money. Never money. “Publish or perish” is about status, not pay, and getting paid is a breach of ethics. You pay to get published, just like the person on the other end pays to read you in the old model. The people that peer review don’t pay money to do it, but they don’t get paid, so they do pay with time. The friggin’ editorial boards usually aren’t paid. It would be as if Lars Ulrich and his producers would never dream of taking money for their work, and only hoped that Elektra was hard at work doing whatever it could to get their tracks into the hands of true metal heads as fast and easily as possible. And that’s how all of this field has worked for hundreds of years before the wah wah was even invented.

If the creative and intellectual work of journals is unpaid, who the hell (you might reasonably ask) is collecting and pocketing all that money? Basically, the printers and manager/secretary types. Elsevier is the purest of middlemen- they not only don’t add intellectual value, it’s pretty much against the rules for them to do so.

If the past 17 years have shown anything, it’s that the net is hell on middlemen. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that with all the same academics offering to do all the same work for the same price (free or negative), charging on the other end for journal subscriptions is just a way for researchers to hide the material they are trying to promote and finally achieve a zen like balance of life long expert toil and total obscurity.

The world wide web was actually invented to do the thing that turned companies like Elsevier from vital parts of intellectual infrastructure into increasingly desperate parasitic lampreys attached to the body of human progress. Science has taught us that organisms displaced from their ecologies go crazy and fight like hell to survive. Nothing, with the possible exception of giant manatees, goes gently into that good night. Expect no different from the journal publishers who archive those ecology notes.

The writing is on the wall, yeah, but that still doesn’t explain why you should care, especially if you are here because you like my desserts or something. You should care because you want a jet car, a simple pill that cures cancer, perfect schools for your children, to live on the moon, the reversal of male pattern baldness, kumquats that never go bad, or perhaps even a planet your grandchildren can safely inhabit in 100 years. Science (and all academia really) seems like it’s about braniacs pelted with apples in patent offices or something, but it’s actually about tiny pieces of the puzzle of how things work being slowly assembled by more people in more directions. It’s an accelerating accretion of understanding and power over the world as it is. It’s exponential, metaphorically speaking, in how every piece of new knowledge opens up the door to n more pieces, etc. The fuel for this growth is eyeballs. (No, actually this time, really, not like the .com bubble.) OA is the rocket fuel approach. Let everyone see it the instant it happens, add small amounts of time, and viola, you get to live in the future.

One of the only solid downsides of OA is that the horrid scholar’s passive voice is now googlable, and not restricted to other academics who are presumably in on the joke. (“We noted across archives that vicious abuse of the English language had been seen.”) It’s the price you pay for progress.

The problems is publish or perish is about status as well as impact, so big name journals get to exist for a while longer largely holding up the progress they once solely enabled.

Which brings us to government action. Moves like the NIH requiring all research they fund to be OA within a year and FRPAA do a lot to get us closer to our jet cars and full heads of hair, even when those things aren’t directly being researched. Also, it takes a government to put an industry out of its misery when the time has come. But most governments are irresponsible twerps and ignore the painful screaming, letting the beasts suffer terribly before finally expiring on their own.

Peter Suber, a philosopher that accidently became the OA guy in the 90s, points to Ireland as a good example of what to do. They simultaneously launched OA archives at their universities while requiring funded research to end up in them. Coordination like this is a great idea, both in the potential mercy killing of Elsevier’s publishing model and in boosting both Irish and non-Irish research. (Is there an Irish word for Goyim or Gaijin? There should be.)

The once and future of scientific publishing

Science as an act of public participation

The idea of open science began with The Royal Society of London, an idiosyncratic groups of talkative 17th century Gentlemen Scientists. Mostly they were the middling upper class – third sons of lords, a group that had more free time than responsibility. They met in a hall to talk about science, read letters from absent colleagues and perform experiments in front of each other. They were so taken with the idea that a theory should be judged on its merits rather than the status of the person advancing it that they started a journal in 1665- the Philosophical Transactions- whose articles were chosen by a review of expert peers rather than the eminence of the presenter. The Royal Society’s motto is “Nullius in Verba,” Latin for “On the words of no one.”

Since then science changed all of society, and the barriers to understanding and participation have steadily declined. Charles Darwin was probably the last of the Gentlemen Scientists. He published The Origin of the Species just 10 years before Nature first rolled off the press as one of the early modern scientific journals. From there the standards of rigor would solidify, and science would move into the academy. The 19th century was the death knell of the class system barrier to scientific participation. This changed how we fundamentally saw science- no longer the pursuit of Great (Smart) Men of history. Progress became the many dots of published research that made up the pointillist portrait of the natural world, conveyed largely by the journal. The next century exploded as a result.

A search on the Nature website alone turns up references to over 370,000 articles across a meager 72 journals. The largest publisher, Elsevier publishes over 2200 journals1. Elsevier’s motto, which dates back to the 17th century, is “Non solus,” Latin for “not alone.” It’s a beautiful motto for the 400 year old peer review system. Science required a community, it could only really happens when we are not alone.

The net brought this community to a new place, a place where a layer of mediation (publishers) can be safely removed. This is the Open Access movement. Open Access is about scientific publishing being quickly posted online, freely available to all comers. It’s peer reviewed in some cases, not in others.

Compared to the rich history of the Royal Society and Elsevier, the world of Open Access journals is tiny and new. But the internet is changing the space between scientists, which in time will change the shape of science entirely. According to there at 753 open archives of research, and many of those are small archives with little more than minutes of local scientific society meetings. The largest of these,, boasts 388,000 articles2, but no peer-review. started as a “preprint” area, but evolved into the place where physics and math can iterate quickly, making math and physics into a conversation, and the conversation is vibrant. Formal peer review is replaced by constant peer interest. Into this environment came Grisha Perelman’s proof of the PoincarĂ© conjecture. The unlikely proof, along his refusal of the Fields Medal captured the media’s imagination. A portrait of a sensitive and grumpy mathematician came out, someone unwilling to submit to the social processes of science for personal reasons. It didn’t matter how valid those reasons were if it kept him out of the literature- generally, that’s the end of the story. But this time we didn’t have to do without his brilliant math. Importantly, in this story, Perelman isn’t the beneficiary of Open publishing; the rest of us are.

But Open Access publishing isn’t just the subscription model sans subscription fees. It’s a different way of doing science when anyone can potentially point an RSS reader at the latest work, from eminent to downright dodgy. They can mark it up, discuss it, blog it, cross reference it, and even integrate it into their world view- and then head off to breakfast.

It’s jarring, even shocking, to be disrupted this way, and to many it looks like a revolt against the publishers of journals. Historical context suggests something different; that perhaps wide dissemination and opening of the process is just part of the natural progression of scientific dialogue. This step, like each before it, takes advantage of the technology and social shifts of the time, and each step has accelerated the progress and widened the breadth of science. And every step has been scary for those who went to the Academy for stability, as well as the euphoric high of understanding.

For scientists in the developing world, or outside the university system, or just those hungry for speed, it’s resources like that have made them “Non solus.” This is touted as one of the triumphs of Open Access, that people outside the usual sphere of science can finally get the latest research. But in fact, it’s the community of science that benefits the most by swelling their ranks.

Taking research out of the segregating world of the of the journal invites the general public to participate in the act of science. They are no long safely outside the walls of the 19th century’s privileged classes or the 20th century’s academia. They are going to watch and comment. They are going to help, and get in the way. Science trolls will harass legitimate work, celebrity pressure will push publishing popular results on popular topics. Rituals of scientific professionalism will become archaic, the status derived from publishing itself will muddy. But it will all be worth it: every endeavor of research with be at last ‘Non solus’ – no one is alone on the internet. With tools for data analysis and statistical modeling falling into everyone’s hands, novel patterns impossible to see in the walled gardens of journals will emerge. Amateurs whose only qualification is interest will transform every discipline they touch. The public will study science and science will study the public. They will delight each other, they will horrify each other with misappropriation, they will drive each other until they are so fast and wide they are one thing. It will be hectic and unstable. Newly opened doors will require new gatekeepers. What the open form of science will bring us is as beyond our imagination as current daily life would be to Darwin. Here the culture of technology informs the culture of science: this is what open interconnectedness has already done to tech.

Perhaps the most important change will be generational. Children growing up in an environment of open science will have a fundamental scientific literacy that we who have learned to love science like a second language will never fully be able to experience like the native speakers. Not all children, but certainly those that lean that way. The natural reasoning of our grandchildren will baffle us as much as the computer literacy of our children has.

It was a radical departure for science from the appeal to authority to the idea of experimentation and collaboration- a wildly egalitarian idea for the 17th century. To “Nullius in Verba,” (On the words of no one), Open Access might add “Omnium Iudicio”, or “to the judgement of all” – the wild idea of the 21st. Summing up from my 2006 Seed piece: science in the 21st century will be vandalized and common, and better for it.

1. 2006 numbers.
2. Haven’t updated these numbers either. Suffice to say, a lot.

Dual marketing

Ever since my days of developing fast cal/oz/$ estimates at the Safeway on Santa Monica Ave in an attempt to keep myself, physiologically speaking, a going concern, I have been suspicious of the way pet food gets labeled. Today I grabbed a can of my wonderful hostess’ canned food for her cat. I delivered half to the dish on the floor, and caught sight of the name- Grammy’s Pot Pie. Pot pie? When did cats get so into pastry? When did Grammy start including the mellow white meat of mice in her dishes? In short, WTF?

I know the theory- anthropomorphizing pet food is yet another way to separate middle class suckers from their yuppie food stamps. It makes well heeled pet owners feel that if they really loved their pets they’d buy them all the food an omnivore could ever want, despite most house pets complete lack of an omnivoracious digestive system.

I always thought there was more to it than that. Part of it was the suckers, sure, but I’ve always thought it was a brilliant case of (admittedly grim) dual marketing. Beginning in the late Reagan era’s special treatment for the poor the way pet food was presented seemed to be changing. High calorie count? Low glycemic index? Vitamin additives, and a label with a picture of a Thanksgiving meal on it? What more could a septuagenarian on a social security fixed income ask for? Pet food is suspiciously labeled for human consumption, and humans do consume it. Why not compete for that market segment?

If you think this is too bleak to be the case, and I am ridiculous and paranoid for thinking it, I present Grammy’s Pot Pie, Smaller Serving Size 5.5oz.

The smell of Grammy’s house and her famous chicken pot pie is an unforgettable comfort. Our family loves dogs and we thought it was about time to share this great taste with yours. These tender chunks of chicken are sure to make your dog beg to go to Grammy’s, even if they have to eat their vegetables. Grammy’s Pot Pie is prepared with Chicken, Red Jacket New Potatoes, Carrots, Snow Peas, & Red Apples.

Guaranteed Analysis
Crude Protein (Min.) 9.00%
Crude Fat (Min.) 4.00%
Crude Fiber (Max.) 1.00%
Moisture (Max.) 81.00%

Calorie Content
1045 kcal/kg – A 13.2 oz. can provides 394 kcal of metabolizable energy, calculated value.

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Fresh Red Jacket New Potatoes, Fresh Carrots, Fresh Snow Peas, Fresh Red Delicious Apple, Potato Starch-modified, Olive Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Flax Seed Oil (For Omega -3), Natural Caramel Color, Poultry Seasoning (Thyme, Sage, Rosemary), Yucca Schidigera Extract, Choline Chloride, Salt, Lecithin, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Mixed Tocopherols, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Vitamin E Supplement, Manganese Amino Acid Complex,Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, Copper Amino Acid Complex, d-Calcium Pantothenate,Vitamin D3 Supplement, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Thiamine Mononitrate, Sodium Selenite.

Grammy’s Pot Pie is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food nutrient profiles for all life stages

This is one of the more, I feel, conclusive examples of the genre. I don’t even think it’s that horrible, if the labels are even close to accurate. If poor people are stuck eating pet food, I am hoping the ones that can afford the slightly more expensive pet food are getting the advertised nutritional value. But I do hope that we can remember that this is speaking to more than one demographic.

White Privilege: Updating the invisible Knapsack

“White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks.”

In Peggy McIntosh’s 1988 essay White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (pdf) she took on trying to understand the unearned advantages her skin color granted her. First there was establishing that these advantages existed, then enumerating them- and then, taking what measure she could to lessen them. In some cases that meant trying to extend them to all people, but many are based on a racial exclusivity and simply needed to go. I was first introduced to this essay in a session at BIL looking at how the election of Barack Obama had changed race relations and the lives of white people.

The essay was inspiring to me. But it was about the privileges enjoyed by a white professor more than 20 years ago. If I was going to take the message to heart I felt I needed to update and personalize it- try to examine my own white privilege in my own context. Thus was the idea born for what I suspect will be the world’s least popular internet meme: unpacking my knapsack. Based on Mcintosh’s original essay I will examine my own privileges, which ones have diminished, which remain, and which don’t really apply to me. Then I’m tagging five friends (Ethan, Aaron, Danny, danah, Tim) to unpack their knapsacks as well.

I think there’s an extra challenge in asking poor whites to lay down white privilege. Being poor is terribly hard in this country and it feels as though you’re a fool for letting go of any scrap of advantage you can get. And that has been used as a wedge to drive people apart and even keep them poor and underprivileged since Nixon visited the South, and probably before. It is to everyone’s long term advantage to let go of white privilege.

I discovered in this process that my queer sexual identity undoes some point of white privilege, and doesn’t affect others at all. I think this is one of the real values of this exercise- seeing how this applies to your own life and context.

I won’t pretend this will be a perfect list, merely an effort along the way.

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

I can, though this seems more universal than it might have once been. I don’t choose to, in part because I don’t feel a particular affection for my race.

1.1 (new privilege) I can not feel an affection for my race without facing criticism. I don’t have to race identify, or deal with issues around my race if I don’t want to, and no one will really question that. I don’t have to worry if I am white enough or too white.

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

Unchanged: as it ever was.

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.

Yeah, basically, except no, because I don’t have much money.

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

This is an important departure- unless they find out I’m queer. So I have to continually wonder if I’m giving it away, and maintain my alienation for my sense of safety and dignity.

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.

This is no longer a position of white or male privilege. This is an area of true progress since 1988, which is wonderful. On the other hand, queers still hide and when politicians reveal themselves to be not straight it goes with a resignation. I can see queers everywhere, but with a nudge and a wink, with only the rarest of exception. And those exceptions are always lead with “Openly gay…” As for openly poly, transgender, or modded people, I see them not at all.

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.

Yes, this is largely unchanged.

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.

Publishing is leaving the privilege sphere. Not gone yet- but my option for this is my blog- and blogging is (relatively) free and pervasive. Publishing is now open to the poorest of nations, if still restricted to the more privileged and educated people within those nations. In the US, online publishing has given voice to even the homeless, prisoners, the poor, the mentally ill, and people of color from any SES. Definite progress.

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

Yes. Not true of being a woman, and if I’m the only queer in a group, I am most likely going to stay quiet to stay safe. I would say this is largely unchanged.

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.

I think this is safely out of the sphere of whites. I think this is an area of true progress.

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.

Yeah, and this is still bad.

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.

Not yet, but it might become an issue later.

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.

True. I have some worry about my child getting flack for her family structure; I certainly did.

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.

Yes. As a matter of fact, my race protects me from them realizing that I come from a background of poverty and attributing misbehavior to that.

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.

Actually, I have been, and for women and queers. I think this is a strange reversal of fortunes.

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.

That’s changing hard and fast. This is an area of real progress.

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

No I can’t, in fact my treatment on this point is severe, but related to queer culture rather than race.

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.

Most yes, but much less so, but I can rest assured that if I face a person of color my race will not work against me.

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.

Yes, or because of my gender, or my sexuality. This is still a race thing, and still bad.

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

Yes, but this is much better- still not perfect.

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.

This is not true for me. Also, I am more likely than most people of color to face violence for my sexual identity.

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.

Absolutely true, in fact, possibly more so than in 1988.

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.

This seems more common to me, as in the writing and activism has become rich enough that more people of color can ignore things outside of their field as much as whites do. Is that progress? I don’t know.

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

That certainly changed recently.

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

Well, no, I look white and feel like I have white body shape. Perhaps this is privilege eroding. Perhaps this is also just strange to me.

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

In a weird way this isn’t true. I can be accused of political correctness as a self seeking strategy. I think that’s a change, but not a good one.

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.

Yes, but this seems like perhaps it’s also diminished from 1988.

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.

Less so because of gender. I am very shy about this- in part because of my sense of alienation, which is largely class, gender, and sexuality based.

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.

True, but much more limited on the basis of my sexuality and gender.

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.

Yes, but often I have needed to cover the nature of my relationships.

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

Yes, though my sexuality will, and has.

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

I think that many people can now, but through dangerous insularity. Nevertheless I think this is eroding.

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.

Not true at all anymore! Progress!

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

Definitely eroded- I see the experiences of many races now. It would take effort not to.

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

Yes. Clear has been a great innovation though, and even more so fun bandages.

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

This has lessened all around, even for queers.

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

I can never feel assured of finding neighborhoods where people approve of my household, even in the Bay Area.

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.

Absolutely false for me.

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


I also identified what I think of as new white privileges:

* I can assume that my problematic sexual identity doesn’t conflict with or disrupt my racial identity. I can come out of the closet and keep my racial identity.

* I can, if I choose, ascribe problems and failures to individuals and claim that there is ‘a level playing field,’ and not be perceived as callous or racist.

* I don’t have to wonder if my missed opportunities are due to my race.

I strongly recommend reading the original essay, and will end my list with the quote that ends hers:

I repeatedly forgot each of the realizations on this list until I wrote it down. For me white privilege has turned out to be an elusive and fugitive subject. The pressure to avoid it is great, for in facing it I must give up the myth of meritocracy. If these things are true, this is not such a free country; one’s life is not what one makes it; many doors open for certain people through no virtues of their own.

I think the prognosis is mixed. Some things are better, but others are worse, and my racial privilege is still insulating me and subtly repressing people of color. Even places where My queerness trumps my white privilege my race often still disadvantages others- worst of both worlds.

It’s incumbent on me now to notice and speak against my own privilege where I can. This isn’t easy, but unpacking my knapsack is a first step.

Ok, I tag Ethan, Aaron, Danny, danah, and Tim to unpack their knapsacks based on McIntosh’s original 50 points, add their own, and note the changes they’ve seen in their lives and communities. Then tag five more unpackers.