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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 04:31 pm (UTC)
It exists. I benefit from it every day.
My father made a deliberate decision to take an anglecized name, I won genetic lotto and came out much paler than most of my immediate family, who look mediterranean and use the surname Habib.

There are literally hundreds of instances in which I have noticed explicitly different treatment.

Calling it "White Privilege" is a deceptive shorthand. It is a social dominance privilege that is mostly present for White Anglo Saxon Protestants.

It manifests most dramatically with respect to African Americans and large immigrant populations, for historical reasons.

Wealth privilege certainly exists and exacerbates it - but think about the difference in treatment between an anglocentric wealthy african american, a wealthy african-american athelete, and a wealthy WASP.

George Bush got a DUI and went on to be president.
African American Atheletes with wealth who get DUI's are routinely lambasted in the media, with an undertone of "well what did you expect"
May. 20th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
Re: It exists. I benefit from it every day.
George bush's father was an influential politician when his DUI happened and it occurred in 1976 when he was completely unknown. IT became a forgotten footnote. If it had happened during his run for election we would not have had him as president.

An athlete of any color who gets called up on DUI charges these days will get lambasted. The more famous the more they get cooked. Pete rose was certainly damn near crucified for his gambling charges. He would not have gotten the worse of it if he had been black as well.

I fully accept there are some few racists out there. I dont doubt it for a second. As a culture though we no longer find it acceptable to discriminate on the virtue of race. Privilege implies special rights and rules for your group. I have no special rights or rules. There are statistical statements someone can make concerning some likely hoods but they are essentially meaningless. People live their lives based on experience and environment. Statistics are good for predicting the lives of groups some times but not the individual.

What is more the label is used as a way to justify a racist view. Whites will get x, y and z and they will never understand discrimination because of white privilege. This is in of itself a racist statement. It also misses the point. There are maybe some predictors someone might make in the data but those predictors can made on many data sets. Instead we focus on race due to the historical reasons.



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