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okay the controversy

So I was reading an LJ today and the subject of "White Privilege" Came up. This is the notion that by the mere dent of being white, a persons life will have an inherent benefit or easing of problems or standards. This was used as an argument for why someone was being clueless talking about a subject related to race. The idea is if you are white your opinion on race is suspect because you benefit of the so called White Privilege.

Now I believe that 50 years ago there was a strong argument for White Privilege. It was clearly present Culturally and in the laws of the time sadly. I believe in the last 20 years though you are hard pressed to come up with real evidence for it. You can find evidence of some things which are sad. The statistics of minority students who get higher education or doctorates are distressing. However the evidence these days could easily be read on the aspect of financial status more than race. With a very few exceptions the evidence just is not conclusive.

I personally don't believe in it. It just isn't there any more. That is not to say there are not some individual racists out there. There are of course plenty of them out there. I am saying there is no inherent cultural, religious, or legal benefits to being born white. I certainly have never benefited from it. There is no one in my long and winding experience that I can point to and say they benefited from it more than being born in to an upper middle class home. The arguments so far presented fail to show privilege in an indisputable way. What is more I feel using that as a justification to discount someone is lazy and disingenuous. Rather than explain why you think someone is wrong on something you point to them and say well they are white. Not only does it not address why they are wrong, but it really is kind of racist. it renders any argument might offer there after weaker as a result.

This discussion went on someones lj and they very politely indulged the discussion till they were done and then asked it be moved elsewhere. So I am posting my thoughts here to any who felt compelled to continue the discussion.

keep it civil.


(Deleted comment)
May. 20th, 2009 10:48 am (UTC)
My point here is there are probably a dozen things I could use to argue someone had an advantage due to. There are several correlations to success, but they are not viewed in the separate context. Statistically speaking I am more likely to see certain successes than minorities. I am also statistically more likely to see success because I have a high IQ. I am statistically less likely to succeed because I am fat. I remarkably less likely to marry a man in this country. All of these are true, but there are not whole books on skinny privilege. IT is not a key phrase to be used in an argument or discussion. IT is a truth and would show up in a news article about weightloss but it is not the same cultural sledgehammer that white privilege is.

White privilege stopped being about the statistics and became about the racist connotations behind it. It is a term tossed out to further drive home race as a divider. The fact there are probably stronger correlations with wealth or some other subject doesn't matter. They don't get the same cultural stigma as saying it is about race.

Ultimately statistics don't relate to the reality of an individual life. To point at someone and say they are benefiting from white privilege ignores the facts of their individual experience. They are not a statistic. Privilege is a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most. I have not had anything of the sort. This is why it drives me crazy to hear it. I am advantaged by being white? how has that advantage manifested? The truth is it hasn't. I have no special rights. No special rules apply to me. On the other hand their are special rules and immunities that apply to minorities of various stripes. It is matter of language and what it is used for.

People don't talk about the innate statistical advantage in being tall, but the term White Privilege is tossed about as a matter of course. The reason is simple. It is about race and race is something people are obsessed with. Even when the society has moved past racism as a whole, we have to have some reason to hold on. I may not be a racist but it is still apparently okay to say I have white privilege. It is not quite the same as saying I am racist or I am part of the group keeping the minorities down but it has many of the same emotional key stones. That is why you will not hear about straight privilege or skinny privilege. They don't have the same emotional keystone that race does.



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