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Friday, February 8, 2019

White privilege at LLNL?

As it is Black History month, Lab cultural celebrations and activities aside, is "White Privilege" a present day workplace issue at LLNL?

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, let's start a completely meaningless, argumentative, politically correct thread on this blog. Troll!!!

Please don't feed the troll.

Anonymous said...


The problem with white privilege is that if you have it you don't know that you have it. When you admit that you have it than it goes away but the problem again is that you don't know if it really went away or not. So yes LLNL has a problem with white privilege. Everything clear now and remember if you argue against it existence is it means you are enforcing it. If you argue that it does exist than you are not taking it seriously.

By the white privilege is simply one of the many privileges that exist and you need to educate yourself on intersectionality, of the intersections of power, race, gender, and orientation. Oddly it is not about class since class can only exist as a function of identity.
Everyday you need to check your privilege and do something about it.

Anonymous said...

Wow, slow down. Circumvoluted comment. Take a deep breath and rephrase!

Anonymous said...

"I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks." - Peggy McIntosh

Anonymous said...

No, please don't "rephrase." Just go away.

Anonymous said...

Wow, slow down. Circumvoluted comment. Take a deep breath and rephrase!

2/09/2019 10:05 AM

Ok, yes LLNL has a problem with white privilege.

Anonymous said...

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

And so much more, much more, like special cars, houses, internet access, schools, airplanes, clothes, food, coded languages, carpet, pets, TV-shows, books, music, rivers, tool boxes, Las Vegas, makeup, ships, tunnels, walls, skateboards, byways, turnpikes, off-road trails, hunting, compasses, stars, light, the moon, stock market indices and so on. All invisible but there and not only can you exchange them for money but they earn interest not only over your lifetime but the all the generations going back to the founding of the country.

The other point that Peggy forgot is all of it is unearned, you did nothing to receive this endless bounty that has been passed down upon you. You feel it is yours and should not be shared and you blame others for not having something you simply take for granted.

Anonymous said...

The priveledge you speak of is based on the culture, the perceived behavior of the privileged, and what the society values. I wonder how you feel about that. Maybe instead, you speak of privilege in the way whites treat or favor other whites. Probably not though considering how non white races tend to treat and favor members of their race vs others. Face it, the dominant culture in any society (take the Han in China for example, not really about skin color for them) is more readily accepted than other cultures, by definition. This will not change because you will it so. Nor should people who adopt the dominate culture feel bad about it. Now to the privilege. Do Asians have white privilege? Or are they so dominate that they overcome the privilege to outperform whites to bring this conversation toward science and true Lab debate where it belongs? (Average salary, education, etc.)

So if white skin color does not equate to the best performance, as a skin color, in the American society what does this tell us? Furthermore, isn’t the solution right in front of our nose and has been explained clearly for decades if not centuries. This country is a melting pot. If you accept the culture and values of America (hard work, tolerance for others beliefs, etc.) you will succeed in the long run.

Generally, I find the whole conversation about privilege repugnant and lazy.

Anonymous said...

"Generally, I find the whole conversation about privilege repugnant and lazy."

Of course you do, you have to protect your privilege that is not earned. Therefore you deny it or say it is repugnant and hence you are the reason that white privilege persists. The rest of your post is called rationalization.

Anonymous said...

In everything I've seen at LLNL in recent years, it is a privilege to be a woman or an african american (ideally both), not a white male. There is a deep-seated academic kind of ideal that certain people need to be held on a pedestal just because of their sex or race, and that's what you see if you pay attention, everywhere. Second rate scientists, especially, promoted to publicized roles and accolades when they are not deserving of those roles based on their competence. It is clearly discrimination, but LLNL is culturally incapable of seeing that as anything but a positive. There are fewer woman and black scientists, certainly, and if society wants to change that it should try in other ways, particularly among teachers of children, but workplace discrimination is not the way to do it.

Anonymous said...

"Generally, I find the whole conversation about privilege repugnant and lazy."

You speak of "the Han in China" in manner that somehow should minimize concerns of white privilege at this USA Lab, the location of the topic question (?). Then later you say, "This country is a melting pot. If you accept the culture and values of America (hard work, tolerance for others beliefs, etc.) you will succeed in the long run" (?). Well which cultural template is it that you actually support for our USA Lab, the "Han in China" or USA "melting pot" model?

Your perspective of Asians being "so dominate that they overcome the privilege to outperform whites to bring this conversation toward science and true Lab debate where it belongs? (Average salary, education, etc.)" is flawed, but unfortunately not uncommon. If Asians hit a triple (performance) that does not resolve the root problem of the white privileged failure to acknowledge being born on 3rd base. Nor does it bring the conversation back toward Lab science, mission objectives, or salaries. We first must acknowledge a born on 3rd base culture, where nepotism, cronyism, and white privilege exists. To merely "overcome the privilege", is not a quality benchmark or a viable long term strategy.

Your "hard work" comment, followed up with finding "the whole conversation about privilege repugnant and lazy" inference, does not compliment your arguments. Other than this point, I'm glad you entered the discussion.

Anonymous said...

Asian men and women in the US earn more than their White, Black, and Hispanic counterparts. Is that because of Asian privilege?

Following 5:53 PM's post, can we assume that Asians have better carpet and pets than whites?

Anonymous said...



Has there ever been an Asian lab director, a female lab director, a black lab director, a hispanic lab director, a Jewish lab director, a transgender lab director? How about a single pararent lab director, a disabled lab director, a gay or lesbian lab director. Think about this and you will just how much privilege exists and the role of intersectionality plays in our lives. If you have any doubt that people are born on chess board with only pawns versus those with mostly queens than all you have to do is look at the comments which reflect the ugly truth.

Anonymous said...

1:42 does not even question the need for a "Asian lab director, a female lab director, a black lab director, a hispanic lab director, a Jewish lab director, a transgender lab director" to actually be the most qualified person for the job. That's not part of the equation to him, instead it's all about the colors and sexes and sexual preferences of the candidates. The boxes, not the content. This, in a nutshell, is the entire problem, and there is no way to agree on anything when the foundational principle of merit is ignored in favor of discrimination.

Anonymous said...

If you are white and work hard for what you have, it is White Privilege. If you are "of color" (not "colored," that would be racist, although think of the lack of alternative in, say, Spanish)), and work hard for what you have, you are downtrodden and discriminated against. OK, got it.

Anonymous said...

As to the rant supplied by 2/10/2019 1:42 PM

Ed Teller was Jewish

As to the rest, well I guess you've got the lab pegged.

In my career I do recall working with:

Asians

Females

Blacks

Hispanics

I don't know about Jews - I didn't ask. Does it count that I'm half Jewish?

Transgender - Don't know, I never looked under the hood. Did work with a cross-dresser.

Single parent

Disabled - Yes, both physical and one person with Down syndrome

Gay / Lesbian - Yes to both

Now none of them became director of the lab. Come to think of it, neither did I.

Anonymous said...

Your discussion of privilege is nothing but prejudice wrapped in social justice speak. Your racism and sexism will not be tolerated.

Anonymous said...

The point is the dominate culture in any society will always be seen as having privilege. You strive to tear down hierarchies but that is no different that trying to change the laws of physics as hierarchies have and will always exist. The communist experiment has proven this over and over again. Therefore what you really strive for is to REPLACE the dominate culture with your culture. my eyes are open and will not be swayed by your babble.

Anonymous said...

76% of millionaires in the US are white. 76% of the population is white. 8% of millionaires are Asian. 5.6% of the population is Asian. Seems this is statistically significant. You must have a measure for this "privilege". I am using money, success. What is your measure?

Anonymous said...

Isn't Goldstein, the current director, Jewish? I really don't know, but he might be. Does having a Jewish name count on your quota scorecard?

Steven Chu was an Asian Secretary of Energy. Does that count for anything? It should, the Secretary of Energy is a higher position than any lab director. Plus, he was the Director of LBL.

Hazel O'Leary was a female Secretary of Energy AND black. Does that count for anything?

Federico Peña was a Hispanic Secretary of Energy. Does that count for anything on your quota scorecard?

Is this just about LLNL or do other labs count against your quota scorecard?

Thomas Zacharia is the current director of ORNL. He's an Indian-American. Praveen Chaudhari was an Indian-American Director of Brookhaven. Do Indian-Americans count? Vahid Majidi is the current director of Savannah River. He's Iranian-American. Do Iranian-Americans count? You left many ethnicities out of your scorecard list. Does that make you racist for being non-inclusive?

Walter Massey was a black director of Argonne. Lura Powell was a female Lab Director at PNNL. Alvin Weinberg was a Jewish Director of ORNL. Quite a famous guy too. These are just the ones I know of.

There very well could be gay directors that I don't know about. You see, it's none of my business and it's none of your business either.

People who keep such scorecards are despicable.

Anonymous said...

In response to 2/10/2019 1:42 PM

LBNL had an Asian-American lab director. Sandia had a female lab director. LLNL had a Hispanic lab director. LLNL had a immigrant refugee Jewish lab director who was also disabled. LANL now has an immigrant lab director. Not sure about the other isms you are trying to scratch, but you've already made yourself look foolish.

Anonymous said...

1:42 Get over it. Everyone cannot be exceptional. Your endlessly entitled stance is proof enough.

Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate (but not surprising) that non-white lab employees that have been outspoken about first hand glass ceiling issues, later say everything is peachy and inclusive, after they become "diversity managers" or have a significant diversity role. This type of opinion reversal has a long history at LLNL. It boils down to newly acquired status and fat stacks.

Anonymous said...

"Everyone cannot be exceptional. Your endlessly entitled stance is proof enough."

Some weren't blessed with white privilege, it turns out they are simply exceptional, end of story. The other unexceptional employees, have unsupportable demands of entitlement. This clarifies everything. Come on, you can do better than such a weak generalization.

Anonymous said...

This conversation is very sad. One way white privilege works is that it allows you to justify everything. Of course it always about the "best qualified" because it works in your favor so you must have been the best qualified in the first place. Of course your a not privileged since you know a minority or two! Of course people who want equality must be communists and so on. In anyone denies that the United States still has deep seated issues with race, sex and privilege all they have to do is read this blog thread.

Anonymous said...

This is an outstanding video which explains white privilege. Structural discrimination the unequal opportunity race.

https://youtu.be/vX_Vzl-r8NY

Anonymous said...



We can bring this conversation to relevance for the labs, for example LANL. It is clear that many people are in denial about privilege as
evidenced by the comments on this thread. I would assume that many people are may simply not be aware of their privilege. At LANL there is and was a well known cowboy culture, yet most people where in denial or simply did not see it. Just as there is conscious and unconscious bias there is also conscious and unconscious denial. I will take the nicer interpretation that may of the posters here are simply not conscious of their privilege and similarly the LANL cowboys may be actually believed that they where not cowboys. I think scientists are particularly prone to bias since they have knowledge of math and statistics which can be used to justify anything. The problem is they believe in these things on an almost religious level. Cultures can change it is just takes some time. The fact that people are so up in arms with this topic means that some progress is being made.

Anonymous said...

LBNL had an Asian-American lab director. Sandia had a female lab director. LLNL had a Hispanic lab director. LLNL had a immigrant refugee Jewish lab director who was also disabled. LANL now has an immigrant lab director. Not sure about the other isms you are trying to scratch, but you've already made yourself look foolish.

2/11/2019 4:25 AM

If you can count the number of minority and women Lab directors (including Deputies) on your fingers that were in place at the Labs over 75-years, doesn't substantiate your argument.

Anonymous said...

2/12/2019 7:35 AM: I guess it would be too difficult for you to see the completely and provably false statement that comment was replying to. I guess the first sentence "In response to 2/10/2019 1:42 PM" was not clear enough.

Anonymous said...

One should also note that LANL and LLNL have only had 23 Directors of that 75-year time frame. I could not find Sandia director data easily, so let's assume another 12. So multiple jews, immigrants, hispanics, women, disabled, etc. over that time period in such a small cohort is pretty clear evidence in contradiction to 2/10/2019 1:42 PM's pretty clearly bigoted scorekeeping. Out of our assumed 35 directors, at least 20% meet the OP's "ism" test. Pretty much better than the rest of society, and note none of us has insight into sexual persuasions of lab directors -- nor should we, nor do we want any.

The tough thing about scientists is that they CAN understand statistics...

Anonymous said...

Privilege is BS. Fake News concocted by unAmerican subversives driving to undermine America by preying on the weak minded. Work and save. We all can do that. If you choose not to, if you brood or puel or sit down somewhere while we all work, it is your choice. I will not validate or acknowledge it. It is yours.

Anonymous said...

"Everyday you need to check your privilege and do something about it."
2/09/2019 7:04 AM

"blah,blah" - Peggy McIntosh
2/09/2019 11:18 AM

"And so much more, much more, like special cars, .. blah, blah"
2/09/2019 5:53 PM

You'll have a hard time selling this correct-speak BS in white Appalachia!

Anonymous said...

Until you have a discussion with Lab legal council about why you CANNOT fire an incompetent person with a history of documented sexual harassment complaints because he is older and "Northern New Mexican", in those words, then you have yet to experience the depth of the this idiotic argument. It is beneath the intellect of the lab.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately there are plenty of diversity gone wrong examples at LLNL too. They serve to discredit and undermine broader LLNL diversity goals by providing ugly examples of unwarranted hiring and promotions that were not based on credentials, performance, or an expected standard of managerial conduct. "He is ____ from ____ " isn't unique to LANL.

Anonymous said...

WHITE PRIVILEGE AT LLNL?I can only speak of my own experience and my co-workers experiences with discrimination and nepotism in our department. A couple years ago my department had numerous managers retire, so a I looked into promoting up, during the time between the posting where coming out and the interview process a new white male employee was running a round telling everyone how he was the new manager; A second white male employee (co-worker) also applied for other management position he was told he didn't have the credentials to do the job, so upper management sent him off site for specialize training to bolster his credentials.Upper management did not offer the same training or similar training to myself a Latino or the other Latino who applied. During the interview process the two white males only had to do phone interviews while the Latino was run through a interview panel. both white males where given the position the Latino received a letter from hr stating he was not qualified for the job. One of the white males that received his management job screwed up numerous times and was demoted. He threaten legal action and was given his management position back, he now has another upper manager follow him around to guide him. the Latino and another co-worker (white male) have applied for numerous management position the both receive the same chain letter back stating their qualification were not a match. The last jobs they applied for management called the two into special meeting to tell them in person they where not consider for the jobs. I guess HR was tired of sending them the same chain letter over and over. I had to explain to the white male co-worker he will never be promoted because he isn't part of the Livermore cowboy/cowgirls association.

Anonymous said...

2/17/2019 12:53 PM

What you are describing is not really white privilege but an NNSA pathology. It basically means that there is no way to understand quality or be evaluated on work actually done. In an environment like that other criteria must emerge on how people are judged, this is than by self-promotion of being a suck up buddy boy. In that light other people have mastered theses skills and get promoted and you need to also do this or leave. This is just a natural consequence of a system that no longer has a purpose or a purpose that is bizarre. The purpose of the NNSA labs is not to have screwups, thats it.

One note is that self-promotion and being a suck up also happens outside of the lab however in those environments where other criteria need to be taken into account you have to be much more extreme for these approaches to be effective. At LLNL it is not so hard, all you have to do is talk to other people and say some white lies like how great they are and ask them to give you their deep wisdom, maybe give them some cheap chocolate or send a group wide emails saying how it is the persons birthday or that you just wanted to say how great they are. Thats all you need to do, maybe 20 mins of effort a week and your in. Anyone white, black, latino, gay, trans, cis and so on can use this trick and it works every time. Don't think too deeply about this, don't take it too seriously and everything will be fine. Also if you don't want to be promoted and you have little skills a similar tactic will ensure you are stable.
Again this is because the labs are no longer about actually doing something, they are about not doing things. In the old days when you needed stuff to actually work you had to find real talent and put up with whatever personality you got to get the job done. Now that the job is about doing nothing so you can pick whoever you want to promote and tolerate and as I said a different set of skills come into play.

Anonymous said...

"Again this is because the labs are no longer about actually doing something, they are about not doing things. In the old days when you needed stuff to actually work you had to find real talent and put up with whatever personality you got to get the job done. Now that the job is about doing nothing so you can pick whoever you want to promote and tolerate and as I said a different set of skills come into play."

It terms of lab mission after the early 90's, some of what you are saying was true under UC/LLNL management too. The difference now is LLNS is a for-profit NNSA award fee "report card" based contractor. Anyone that openly claims there is a "white privilege", "buddy boy", cronyism, nepotism, employment environment here, don't just fall outside these groupings as unfavorable. Potentially, they present annual profit headwinds to be quietly dealt with. Because lab employees fear speaking up about "white privilege", "buddy boys" cronyism, or nepotism at LLNL, these employment practices are now in overdrive.

Anonymous said...

12:53 PM is the guy who writes at the third grade level. He just made the exact same misspellings as he did when he claimed to work at LANL. I'm guessing he doesn't work at either lab.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the perpetual LLNL blog troll. He's also obsessed with "cowboys" although he now includes "cowgirls" I guess in an attempt to be inclusive. He also replies to his own posts pretending he is someone else, to convince people he is gaining support. Not.

Anonymous said...

."Anyone that openly claims there is a "white privilege", "buddy boy", cronyism, nepotism, employment environment here, don't just fall outside these groupings as unfavorable. Potentially, they present annual profit headwinds to be quietly dealt with. Because lab employees fear speaking up about "white privilege", "buddy boys" cronyism, or nepotism at LLNL, these employment practices are now in overdrive. "

I completly agree, I would only add that these are now simply a subset of issues that can hold you back. In fact anything that rocks the boat in any way will hold you back, not just complaining about discrimination. In this way discrimination is not a special issue at LANL or LLNL, it is just another thing you need to be silent about. Complain about safety, your in trouble, complain about abuse, your in trouble, complain about bad management your in trouble, complain about infrastructure your in trouble, complain about security your in trouble. You see my point, LLNL, LANL is not den of privileged racists, they are simply organizations that have no purpose so never complain about anything or anybody because you have no value to the institute, in fact no one has any value to the institute. If no one showed up to work the labs would make 60% or more of the fee, think about that and you can see the issue. The only driver at the labs are problems. Bringing in millions from outside means nothing, having a great breakthrough means nothing. Heck even achieving "important milestones" is not worth that much since you don't get anymore money for doing them and you would lose a very small amount of the fee for missing some. On the other hand if someone hurts themselves by trying to surf on their laptop down the stairs than than the lab could lose up 50% of the fee.

So the key is not only to not cause problems but try to make it a bit more pleasant. If management is bad than just say nice things to your manager, if you are abused say thank you, if you roof is leaking put a flower pot under the leak and send an email about how great that is, tout about how great security and so on. Do these things and it will work out just fine. This is not hard work and you don't need to put a lot of effort in this. This is village politics and it is a small village in the pre neolithic age so you don't need to do all that much. Heck if you brought in a shiny object and gave it to your manager and said how he/she deserves because they are so special than you will have the highest marks for the year. Have some great breakthrough but never indulge you manager you will get an average score.

Anonymous said...

When you attempt to reverse past "injustice" and in doing so you put people in a position where they display their lack qualification for said position, we all lose. Having survived the tenure of Hazel O'Leary all I could do was mutter under my breath and hope for survival.

Anonymous said...

@6:40 PM

Don't know about LLNL but this is very true at LANL. All you mention is at display and on a daily basis at LANL. One always wander how long all that is going to last?
Isn't a higher ethics agency that can look at it? or the Department of Labor?
Someone in the Gov't should take a look at it.

Anonymous said...

3/07/2019 2:30 PM

The "higher ethics agency" is YOU. Find an employer whose ethics you like better and go work for them. Simple. Why work for an employer whom you don't trust or like?? That says more about you than them.

Anonymous said...

From what I can see, “Anonymous @ 2/10/2019 9:18 PM” is the only post that accurately captures the absurdity of the question. The griping and whining of those envious of any hierarchy is a human constant across the ages.

Anonymous said...

As various perceptive commenters have noted (not on this blog), there is a distinct difference between xenophobia and racism on the one hand, and natural and understandable worry and anxiety about loss of cultural cohesion and established norms in society. The former is abhorrent, the latter is to be expected, and respected. People feeling suppressed or repressed will push back, even if they are white. Why should "people of color," or any minorities, get exclusive rights to protection of their cultural heritage?

scooby said...

Hey 4/14/2019 5:54 PM
The minute you become anxious
that your race and culture are threatened, you are already a racist.In the US, no race has the monopoly on anything. Your ancestors arrived here the same way as anyone else's ancestors, as immigrants.
There is a whiff of nationalism here.

Anonymous said...

"The minute you become anxious
that your race and culture are threatened, you are already a racist."

Seriously?? Funny, I thought that all minority cultures in the US felt that way. Was I wrong? I guess they are all racist.

There is nothing wrong with loving and respecting your country (my definition of nationalism, I don't know what yours is). Also, there is nothing wrong with wanting to preserve what you perceive as valuable and worthy in your culture. Surely every minority culture in the US feels that way. Why is it wrong for a majority culture to also feel that way? No one is talking about denigrating or disparaging or destroying other cultures.

Your calling me a racist violates your own rules, sir. I demand an apology. And actually, I am 1/8 native American.

scooby said...

Hey,4/15/2019 5:43 pm

I made this statement :

The minute you become anxious
that your race and culture are threatened, you are already a racist.

This is a general statement, not directed at you.
It is like saying to a lawyer that lawyers are money hungry.
I am not accusing him of anything. If he is offended, that is his choice.
I did not call you racist. Therefore, no violation of blog rules and no apology is necessary.

Anonymous said...

Every lawyer I know would be offended hearing that statement. But whatever. Your politics are clear.

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