When Whiteness is the Default for Success

It is now common—and I use the word “common” in its every sense—to see interviews with up-and-coming young movie stars whose parents or even grandparents were themselves movie stars. And when the interviewer asks, “Did you find it an advantage to be the child of a major motion-picture star?” the answer is invariably “Well, it gets you in the door, but after that you’ve got to perform, you’re on your own.” This is ludicrous. Getting in the door is pretty much the entire game, especially in movie acting, which is, after all, hardly a profession notable for its rigor. That’s how advantageous it is to be white. It’s as though all white people were the children of movie stars. Everyone gets in the door and then all you have to do is perform at this relatively minimal level.

Additionally, children of movie stars, like white people, have at—or actually in—their fingertips an advantage that is genetic. Because they are literally the progeny of movie stars they look specifically like the movie stars who have preceded them, their parents; they don’t have to convince us that they can be movie stars. We take them instantly at face value. Full face value. They look like their parents, whom we already know to be movie stars. White people look like their parents, whom we already know to be in charge. This is what white people look like—other white people. The owners. The people in charge. That’s the advantage of being white. And that’s the game. So by the time the white person sees the black person standing next to him at what he thinks is the starting line, the black person should be exhausted from his long and arduous trek to the beginning.


Folksonomies: racism

/family and parenting/children (0.982286)
/society (0.708031)

White people (0.964007): dbpedia_resource
Performance (0.866815): dbpedia_resource
Black (0.858122): dbpedia_resource
Parent (0.776212): dbpedia_resource
Film (0.769624): dbpedia_resource
The Starting Line (0.704925): dbpedia_resource
The Advantage (0.646995): dbpedia_resource
Question (0.600401): dbpedia_resource

 Fran Lebowitz on Race and Racism
Periodicals>Magazine Article:  Lebowitz, Fran (OCTOBER 1, 1997), Fran Lebowitz on Race and Racism, Vanity Fair, Retrieved on 2024-01-25
  • Source Material [www.vanityfair.com]
  • Folksonomies: racism