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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.


May. 20th, 2009 01:05 pm (UTC)
Now, I'm definitely not saying there isn't skinny privilege. But we're not talking about that.

So... you're saying that race, because it is an emotional issue, is somehow invalid?

Look, I can understand wanting to argue against the existence of any benefit that comes of being white-- or perceived as such. I figure it has to do with the whole, "waitasec, this is something in the racial conversation that targets me specifically, and I'm not comfortable with that." thing. I'm not obviously even colored, and I'll tell you plainly that compared to my siblings that actually look black, I have /always/ been treated differently by people in general-- even in CA. And you're wrong when you say that people aren't raised, in a lot of ways, implicitly, to mistrust people who belong to a different race from the one they belong to. The difference comes in how individual families overcame it by teaching that /in spite of this/, you have to take individual people on their individual merits. I don't know a single kid from a minority group who didn't get the lecture, implicitly or explicitly, "you're going to have to live with these people, so deal."

White kids get kind of a watered down version of it-- and yeah, I've been that "first black friend!" just as I've been the, "first gay friend." Being interracial is an interesting thing. I'm personally more privileged than all y'all. I get to look white, and tell all the horrid jokes I want. W00t.

And your example is flawed. Child Molester isn't a stamp someone wears on their forehead. You don't know that you avoided contact with child molesters. But you could avoid contact with people who look suspicious. Whatever that means.

I think the thing that really bothers me isn't the, "I have a problem with white privilege," it's the underlying implication of, "why are we even talking about race?" That's the most clear indication of privilege these days-- the feeling that one has the right to shut down these kinds of conversations and call them irrelevant. The fact that they continue means they're not. Being aware that "you're still being treated differently! We need workarounds... " and putting a name to it, yeah, I can see how that looks like making bad guys out of white people, but that's not what it's about. It's not you, it's us. Really.

Yes, race is a subject that still informs people's lives. Maybe not yours, but hey-- you get to have a conversation about it that's basically intellectual masturbation, and it doesn't really affect your life beyond that. You can talk about this stuff without talking about /you/.

I can't.

Just sayin'.
May. 20th, 2009 01:19 pm (UTC)
I call them irrelevant because they lay greater weight on one set of statistics over another merely by dent of race being more emotional than other statistical matters. I dont mind a conversation on race. I mind the conversation on race starting with the assumption that I am some how less impacted by the world in anyway by dent of my race. I mind that there is a racial statement that is allowed to be made about me by dent of my race, but the reverse is not true. I mind that it is used as a replacement for reverse racism. God forbid a white person makes a statement about race which you(not you specifically in this case) disagree with. It must be due to his being blind to his privilege. I mind it uses the term privilege which implies special rights or rules. I mind the divide it insists is there and helps perpetuate by that insistence. I don't mind people talking about the statistics and the problems. I do mind the label being attached and anyone who complains about the label is treated like a slow child.



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