“Ok, I think I made my point clear without being too much of an asshole,” MauiTime Publisher Tommy Russo concluded. His head lingered in the doorway as he continued to mull it over. He nodded definitively after a couple of seconds. “Yeah, that’s it.” He smiled.
It was the Tuesday before last week’s issue went to press, and we were talking about the image that was decided for the cover page.
Ten minutes prior, Tommy walked into my office with the proof copy of the design our Art Director Darris Hurst and I had agreed on earlier in the day. We’d since been working on other things, calling the cover a wrap.
“Any time there’s a white male on the cover, alarms should be going off in your head,” Tommy proclaimed emphatically, waving the proof in the air on the way through the doorway before setting the paper on my desk. “If we need to find another angle on the story, or use another story from the issue, do that.”
I guess I spent my “new guy” pass.
“No, I feel you. I feel you,” I assured Tommy after he made his point.
I really did, and I still do.
White privilege is real. White people, men especially, benefit from institutions rooted in hundreds of years exploitation that established and affirmed their supremacy and dominance over people of color. These institutions were paved on land taken from indigenous people, built with slave labor, and perpetuated by the insidious mindset of colonization that justifies cultural genocide. In Hawai‘i, the overthrow of the sovereign Kingdom of Hawai‘i by wealthy white businessmen supported by the U.S. military is just one example of the many injustices executed by white people on this land.
“White privilege” isn’t to say that white people haven’t experienced any hardship. It’s to say that there are systemic and institutional benefits that white people receive in this country, whether they are aware of it or not. We at MauiTime do not want to be complicit in the historical oppression of indigenous people and minorities by continuing to empower people who already benefit from privilege.
With that said: To me, if you’re doing good work, that’s what matters. If there’s a story there, I’ll consider it. And if a profile is compelling enough to deserve the cover, I don’t mind putting your face on the front, regardless of your skin tone. Covers should tell stories, and if that story is about a white person, so be it.
Jim Oxborrow is awesome, and I definitely don’t mean any of this to take away from his accomplishments or the story Barry wrote about him last week. It was great, and showcased a talent in Maui County that deserves coverage. He’s done incredible things that display a tremendous range of character, dedication, and hard work.
This is about transparency, reflection and an interest in entering an open discussion with our readers.
So instead of erasing all covers with white guys, I’d rather do something less superficial. We want profiles and articles that reflect the wonderful diversity of the Maui community. The best way I can think to do that is by inviting in and including more voices. If you are a Maui-based writer with a story to tell, a thinker with some curiosity about this place, or an insider in Maui’s scene, we want to hear from you. We accept reader feedback, take in interns and consider story pitches accompanied by writing samples. My contact information is online. I look forward to hearing from you.
Coconut Wireless Poll
Take the Poll: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/whiteprivilegemauitime
Jul 06 2018 12:36 PM Thank you for acknowledging the privilege and for continuing to be critical journalists!
Jul 05 2018 4:43 PM Desecration of ancient, precontact burials throughout the Central Maui Pu’uone Sand Dunes Complex, and currently slated to continue in the Maui Lani Project Development and adjoining areas once the Sand Mining Moratorium expires on JULY 19…. They saved the Waihe’e Sand Dunes and Honokahua, but seems like the other burials ARE FAIR GAME… Maui Lani hires their own archaeologist, SHPD signs off, and it’s full on DESECRATION…. Kate Bradshaw’s 2009 article provides some background: https://mauitime.com/culture/bones-of-contention/
Jul 05 2018 12:44 PM White privilege is non-existent in modern society and is completely sensationalized by the media. Privilege is earned by generations of hard-working individuals to make the lives of their progeny easier.
Jul 04 2018 7:37 PM People gotta stop on the color thing. It’s hard for everyone to do everything. If your culture or personal code has you BEAT the blocks you face in life you win at any color. IF you have a block in life and you blame whitey or your parent’s divorce or anything else, you lose. Stop complaining and start being personally resaponsible for overcoming blocks in your way and your color won’t matter in America.
Jul 04 2018 4:41 PM WP distorts the way we interact as the most diverse communities in the world. As a white person myself, I find it miscasts how I feel about my world and the people around me.
Jul 04 2018 4:10 PM Privilege by color is a distant second to privilege of wealth.
Jul 04 2018 3:30 PM “Call it Majority Privilege if you want to address the problem head on instead of just being lazy and race baiting. The privilege isn’t the skin color, it’s the numbers. Hope that pisses you off and fucks up your narrative.”
Jul 04 2018 1:40 PM I have been busted several times for drugs, trespass, traffic, but never arrested. “I’m going to let you go with a warning.”
Jul 04 2018 12:15 PM Until white people accept that there is a systemic advantage to their skin color, and until we atone for the atrocious treatment of minorities and indigenious peoples both historically and currently, we will never heal the divide in our society. Resentment, misunderstanding and unfortunately racism will be ever present, and those in a position of power will go out of their way to oppress those considered “beneath” them. I am a white woman, and while I am aware of the existence of white privilege, I don’t think I could fully comprehend the daily challenges people of color face. It’s nuanced and blatant all at the same time; an ugly system we have created.
Jul 04 2018 9:24 AM I am white and it is there in so many ways that I am not aware of all of them. I can go jogging in LA or New Orleans at odd hours w/o getting shot. I generally don’t fear getting shot by police if getting pulled over. Because I am white people are much less likely to assume I am doing something wrong if I am in an odd place. There is much more.
Jul 03 2018 1:15 PM Rewards should be for good work done not to fill a race/sex quota in the workplace.
Jul 03 2018 11:48 AM It is complete B.S.
Jul 03 2018 10:32 AM Being white, I recognize my white privilege and the opportunities it has afforded me career wise and socially. When I walk down the street, no one is wondering about my heritage, worth, reliability or honesty. It is only through recognition of the countless benefits of white privilege that we can aspire to equality and equity. We are a long way off but there’s been some progress since the 60’s. Racism is, devastatingly, alive and flourishing.
Jul 03 2018 1:27 AM Count the number of white under privileged and compare it to other races. There are other social and economic factors that affect privilege, so why focus on race. This is race baiting.
Jul 02 2018 10:23 PM We are so inundated with white privilege that many people have forgotten that their privileged life is a massive gift, and not something to be expected.
Jul 02 2018 9:50 PM They feel white is right and anything different is wrong
Jul 02 2018 4:35 PM I have done a lot of reading over the past 18 months to try to better understand white privilege (I am white) and to fill the gaps in my education. I would like to recommend to your readers Robin DiAngelo who has written extensively about White Fragility – that white people’s expectations for racial comfort are so high, they have an extremely low ability to tolerate racial stress – such as participating in discussions about privilege. Also, I read a book by Ronald Takaki “A History of Multicultural America” where he states “A history that leaves out minorities reinforces separation, but a history that includes everyone bridges the divide between groups.”
Jul 02 2018 11:31 AM “It is white male privilege for the most part. My career as a scientist has been profoundly affected by white male PhD privilege.
Jul 02 2018 9:23 AM Bull pucky
Jul 01 2018 11:10 PM It does not effect me
Jul 01 2018 2:53 PM On Maui being white non Asian, non Hawaiian non Filapino is an obstacle. How many caucasians are in the Arakawa administration? Answer- not that many and very few women. Also remember that we had Kill Haole day not that long ago. This might be a better subject for the mainland, though being white and male will not help you when trying to get into college. Things are changing!
Jun 30 2018 4:52 PM I hate it
Jun 30 2018 1:27 PM Who cares what color someone is? Seems you’re hung up on race and color
Jun 30 2018 11:27 AM You cannot look at our schools, public or private like seabury, without seeing how it is all built to cater to white culture. The same for the jobs we have, the history here, who gets sent to the jails and prisons, the list goes on and on.
Jun 30 2018 7:42 AM It’s like an invisible force you are working against all the time. Not only white privilege but moneyed white privilege as well.
Jun 30 2018 7:06 AM It affects everyday life especially with our current government. It dominates the news
Want to take the poll and weigh in on your take on it?