I still remember the first time I heard the term “white privilege”. Though I can’t recall the exact topic of the conversation that brought this concept to my attention, I can certainly remember my utter incredulity that such nonsense was, as my fellow conversant insisted, a “real thing”, not to mention my horror that someone who I had hitherto assumed to be intelligent and sane could believe such blatant cultural marxist bunk.
In theory, “white privilege”‘ refers to the alleged inherent advantages afforded to white people by virtue of their being the dominant group in society (for the purposes of this article the society in question is the United States). A closer examination, however, reveals that these so-called privileges are not inherently tied to race, and certainly not privileges which every white person can expect to claim.
The economic realities of America are perhaps the biggest inconvenience to the “white privilege” myth. It’s difficult to maintain the assertion that whites are privileged, at least in any material sense, when some of the poorest Americans are white, and some of the most financially successful are Asian and Jewish. If society really is structurally biased in favor of white people, then presumably whites would be at the top at every level of society, but that is frequently not the case.
It might sound pedantic and an issue of semantics in the extreme, but it is of crucial importance that some facets of “white privilege” in America may more accurately be described as black or Hispanic disadvantage. An oft-touted example of “white privilege” in action is the difference between the average black person and white person in their experience with the police. But as I discussed in part one of my reflections on race, those different experiences aren’t based on some abstract racist policy on the part of the police, but reflect unfortunate socio-economic realities and the demographics of crime.
Much of so-called “white privilege” is really socio-economic disparities mistaken, either willingly or unwillingly, for racial ones. In her piece “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”, noted leftist Peggy McIntosh lists fifty conditions that most white people in America can allegedly count on being true, fifty conditions on which non-white people allegedly cannot count. Many of these are blatant socio-economic conditions to which race has a very tentative connection, if any at all:
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.
I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.
I can be pretty sure of finding people who would be willing to talk with me and advise me about my next steps, professionally.
I will feel welcomed and “normal” in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.
There are thousands of white people across America who couldn’t begin to even hope to count on one of the above five conditions, let alone all of them. There are other conditions on the list which purposely confuse issues of breeding with issues of race:
I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.
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.
And then there are conditions which could easily be counted on by any black or Hispanic person living somewhere like New York City:
I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.
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.
Nearly everything on McIntosh’s list reflects a socio-economic problem (I include the assumption of criminality as a socio-economic problem, as the popular stereotypes surrounding blacks and crime today are rooted mainly in the consequences of the Great Society and similar welfare initiatives). The only conditions listed which seem to be actual “privileges” inherently tied to being white deal with popular culture and history:
I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented
When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
That third condition might be a little obsolete; PC has long been the rule of the day and I can recall few high school history classes which didn’t take pains to stress the “contributions” of non-white peoples. The first two are particularly interesting, though. They certainly fit the basic definition of so-called “white privilege”, and are conditions inherently denied to a non-white person living in the United States. However, they are also conditions denied to a white person should he find himself living in Bombay or Bangkok.
Of course most people on TV, in film, in books, and in the press in the United States are white – most people in the United States are white! To assert it should be otherwise reveals either a disturbing ignorance of the way the economy and mathematics work or an insidiously aggressive (not to mention racist) attitude towards white people. Because implicit in the opinion that there aren’t enough non-whites on television or in the newspaper is the view that there are too many white people there, which in a country where whites make up the clear majority is tantamount to calling for a cultural ethnic cleansing.
And that’s the truth of the matter – so called “white privilege” is really just the result of demographic and historical fact; the so-called privilege only happens to be “white” in the United States because that country was founded and populated predominantly by white people of European descent, and is only seen as “privilege” because there are sizable non-white minorities in the country with individuals who for whatever reason are incapable of coming to terms with their minority status and forever bear a jealousy-induced rage because of it. Their champagne-socialist, guilt-ridden, white cheerleaders don’t help matters either.
Which brings us to the most troubling aspect of the proliferation of the concept of “white privilege”. Recognizing that many whites and non-whites may have very different day-to-day experiences in America, and discussing those different experiences, can be very useful, both academically and socially. The problem, however, is that in practice the term is an ideological weapon used by the left to further young white liberals’ racial and cultural self-hatred, and to silence any white person who proposes that the problems minorities face may originate from something other than the supposedly-inherent racism of Occidental society.
Suggest to a liberal, for example, that perhaps generations of welfare dependency and broken families have not had the best effect on the black community and suddenly, out of nowhere, like Captain Planet and Queero the Irreligious-nondenominational-generic-wintertime-celebration Animal riding a rainbow-coloured, winged unicorn, “white privilege” will appear to save the day, or rather his telling you to “check yours” will save him from having to actually listen to or think about anything you have to say that might challenge his racial worldview.
The phrase “check your privilege” is nothing more than a slightly-less rude way of saying, “shut up, whitey, you aren’t allowed to have an opinion about this” (unless of course it’s the prevailing, mainstream lefty opinion). It’s the same sophomoric line of reasoning employed by the quarter-educated when they claim that men have no right to talk about or vote on women’s issues, or ask, “how dare you claim drugs are bad when you’ve never tried them”, and it serves no other purpose than to silence any who dare challenges The Narrative.