Social Justice Usage
Source: Devadoss, Christabel. “Sounding ‘Brown’: Everyday Aural Discrimination and Othering.” Political Geography 79, 2020, p. 2.
Indian Americans, though flagged as “brown” and “foreign” have also been linked to “whiteness” and “brown privilege” (Bhatia, 2007). As a group, they are perceived to be a privileged, model minority exempt from much racial and ethnic violence directed at other minorities. Part of the reason for this perceived privilege is because they have the highest median income of any ‘ethnic group’ and even though this stereotype does not fit the life experiences of many Indian Americans, they have often been peddled in immigration policy as the secret to “economic success” – a status of ‘whiteness’ in U.S. society.
New Discourses Commentary
“Brown privilege” is the alleged sociopolitical privilege afforded to brown people on account of their not being black or, sometimes, indigenous. As a concept, it is the product of critical race Theory and functions very similarly to other specific forms of privilege, most like white privilege.
In the worldview outlined in the Theory of Critical Social Justice, societal privilege is a key concept. Privilege is viewed “relationally,” or more accurately “positionally,” against the systemic power dynamics Theory posits define all of sociopolitical reality. These power dynamics allow domination and create oppression, as understood under a simplistic Marxian conflict theory analysis, and privilege is the state of having access to systemic power. The earliest form of privilege to have come on the scene is, perhaps, male privilege, which feminists Theorized belongs to men in a patriarchal society, but perhaps most famous is “white privilege,” which evolved from the earlier idea of “white-skin privilege,” which denotes a kind of suite of racial advantages that come with having white skin or having been included sociopolitically as “white” through the expansion of “whiteness.” The concept of privilege has expanded rather considerably to have specific descriptions for nearly every possible identity factor that isn’t considered abjectly oppressed (see, e.g., thin privilege).
Racial privilege is, in one regard, the object of study of critical race Theory, so it has been been Theorized to an astonishing degree of detail that starts to parse out different sorts of racial oppression (see also, BIPOC). The critical race Theory analysis is combined with intersectional analysis that takes race along with other identity factors and creates a kind of oppression hierarchy sometimes called the Matrix of Domination—a kind of partially ordered set of multivariate identity factors ordered by relative oppression by the prevailing systems of power Theorized to describe society. One’s location in this hierarchy—one’s “positionality,” which must constantly be engaged, according to critical race Theory—references one’s relationship to the various intersecting systems of dominating power (see also, standpoint epistemology). Being “brown” in one form or another is considered positionally privileged to being black and oppressed as compared to being white (by white supremacy, in fact). “Brown privilege” denotes the privilege of not being black despite being a person of color.
Critical race Theory can get quite tendentious about race, but at the heart of all of its analyses is the question of whether or not a particular racial group or category (or amalgamation thereof, in the case of “brown”) has the luxury of not being black and, thus, in the systemic sense, upholds a social order that is intrinsically “anti-Black.” Brown people are Theorized to be, for a variety of reasons, afforded this status and luxury, and so they are deemed to be complicit in the white supremacist, anti-Black social order under a doctrine called “brown complicity,” which mirrors a similar concept known as “white complicity.” Being in this position and being able to be comfortably unaware of it, is itself considered a form of privilege under critical race Theory, and brown people are seen as qualifying for this in their own ways (see also, false consciousness, internalized dominance, internalized oppression, active ignorance, pernicious ignorance, white ignorance, and willful ignorance). As a result, critical race Theory seeks to inform brown people of their brown privilege so as to awaken a critical consciousness about race within them that would induce them to allyship, solidarity, and, becoming critical race Theorists in their own images (see also, consciousness raising and anti-racism).
Brown privilege is considerably more complicated than white privilege because of its recipients’ positional location within the racial hierarchy as critical race Theory conceives of it. In general, “brown privilege” can be understood on the superficial level as a kind of “white privilege”-lite, if you will. It is generally understood within critical race Theory that brown people are members of “minoritized” groups, and thus do not have the full racial privilege that white people have, as critical race Theory has it, granted themselves. On the other hand, there is the plain fact that brown people are not black, and thus, according to critical race Theory, will not experience anti-Black systemic racism in the same way that black people would (see also, cultural racism and BIPOC). It is also Theorized that brown people tend to be more acceptable to white culture and thus more accepted within whiteness than black people ever can be (see also, model minority and white adjacent). In this regard, brown privilege is sometimes reinterpreted as just another form of white privilege and brown people are classified as “white” for simplicity and convenience (see also, diversity and inclusion).
The elephant in the room in this vein of discussion is that some cultures associated with “brown” people have values that are in some relevant ways more similar to what critical race Theory would call “white” culture than are certain African-American “black” subcultures, especially when the B in “Black” is capitalized (see also, identity-first, black liberationism, cultural relativism, and multiculturalism, and also, individualism and meritocracy). It is in these regards that brown people will often be accused by critical race Theorists of being “model minorities” or “white adjacent,” especially when preferring integrationist approaches in cultural milieus critical race Theory would designate as “white” (see also, pluralism and liberalism).
This aspect creates a considerable complication in the analysis of brown privilege that does not render it like a lighter form of white privilege but instead as a worse type of privilege to enjoy. Because brown people are, according to critical race Theory, racially oppressed in a systemic way (unless Jewish—see here), the Theory expects greater critical consciousness (awareness of systemic oppression as Critical Theory explains it) from them and thus greater solidarity. Insofar as brown people do not identify themselves as “black” and don’t necessarily support politically Black identity politics causes, they are therefore designated as being complicit in anti-Blackness in a way that also contains elements of intersectional treason (cf. race traitor, which is different). Brown privilege is therefore a more frustrating concept to critical race Theory than white privilege in some regards in roughly the same way that white liberals and especially white progressives are labelled “good whites” and white women are considered especially problematic (see also, white feminism and black feminism).
In practice, “brown privilege” is a way to extend the bullying tactics of critical race Theory from white people to “brown” people so that they will become critical race Theorists and act in solidarity with the queer black feminism at its functional core.
See also, privilege, brown complicity, brown silence, and brown fragility.
Active ignorance; Ally/Allyship; Anti-Blackness; Anti-racism; BIPOC; Black feminism; Black liberationism; Brown complicity; Brown fragility; Brown silence; Complicity; Conflict theory; Consciousness raising; Critical; Critical consciousness; Critical race Theory; Critical Theory; Cultural racism; Cultural relativism; Diversity; Domination; Engagement; False consciousness; Feminism; Good white; Identity; Identity-first; Identity politics; Inclusion; Indigeneity; Individualism; Internalized dominance; Internalized oppression; Intersectionality; Liberalism; Man; Marxian; Matrix of Domination; Meritocracy; Minoritize; Model minority; Multiculturalism; Oppression; Patriarchy; Pernicious ignorance; People of color; Pluralism; Positionality; Power (systemic); Privilege; Problematic; Progressive; Queer; Race; Racism (systemic); Reality; Social Justice; Solidarity; Standpoint epistemology; Theory; Thin privilege; White; White adjacent; White complicity; White feminism; White ignorance; White-skin privilege; White supremacy; Whiteness; Willful ignorance
Revision date: 11/18/20
Indigenous, Aboriginal & Native all mean the same thing
nuclear missiles against CRT