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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 11:56 pm (UTC)
What is touted as available is wholly deceptive. It isn't like a black man can walk into a bank and because he's black he'll have a higher chance of success in getting a small business loan. Nor would it be like black students are more likely to find funding for college. Yes, there are scholarships, loans, and such for minorities, but the steps you have to take to get any one of those are ridiculous (by comparison) and the amount which is out there annually is usually gone within the first week of availability. If you aren't adept at grant writing or have someone who is to do it for you, and you don't get your app in on the earliest possible date, you're not going to get it. This is assuming you even know where to look for any of it. So, on the whole, black people aren't any more advantaged in the ways described as white people, and are far often more disadvantaged.

The best you could argue is some doors dont close.
Semantics. But you're example is more correct. Doors close when black people come before them.

And following a discussion you're having with another, yes, there are laws in place to prevent discrimination (although hiring quotas have been abolished), but they're terribly easy to get around and it's virtually impossible to prove you were not hired/were fired on the basis of your race, weight, sex, orientation, or anything else, unless by some strange happenstance you have multiple witnesses to a full-blown statement to exactly that effect (who are all willing to testify).

I know someone who was drug-raped by a co-worker, and because she was trusting and addled enough to not realize what happened until several days later, there was no evidence to be gathered. Even though she had a hand written letter from him apologizing for the act after she'd confronted him, she was the one who was fired for having brought it up to her superiors and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission couldn't do anything about it because she was ostensibly fired for "inadequate job performance" (nevermind she'd been chosen /because/ of her job performance to be a manager in training). If it's that easy to get around a rape case, how much easier do you think it is for someone who simply isn't the same color as you?

The benefits? The laws? They're either not present in the ways they'd be expected to be, or mostly a sham, and like locks on doors, only present to keep honest people honest--but unlike breaking and entering, racism (esp in this day and age) is so very much harder to prove.
May. 21st, 2009 12:40 am (UTC)
I am not going to defend fringe cases. They happen and that is unfortunate. Rape is illegal. Sometimes people do get around the law, but the majority of the time they dont.

Teh laws do work most of the time. We live in asociety of laws and rules. They round off the edges of society but it does not mean the laws wont get broken and sometimes some people will get away with it. It sucks. That does not lessen the fact that the law is there to protect you. Otherwise that situation would not be the exception it would be the rule. IT is the outside case that sucks.

As to your point on the scholarships and other financial incentives available to minorites, they are hard to work is your argument? It is hard no matter which program you go for. That doesn't change there are more opertunities available to minorities. As it has been explained to me frequently lately, that means they have a privilege. Leave aside that that is a corruption of the definition of privilege.
May. 21st, 2009 01:27 am (UTC)
These aren't fringe cases--it's virtually status quo. You'd be surprised at how frequently stuff like that happens, and having been in the position where people came to me for help with these sorts of cases, it really opened my eyes to the fact that people and businesses get away with a lot. The laws are there as a stop-gap measure to stem the tide, because otherwise there would be a wave that would wash over our society. As it stands, we're constantly at the high-water mark.

Scholarships, student grants, and loans are relatively easy to get. You fill out a little paperwork, send it in, and viola--I used to help people get money for college all the time. You want something supplied by the government? Heh. First, find a grant that would even apply to your situation, and good luck with that. Write up your grant proposal, and that's not just an application where you fill in boxes with numbers and the letters of your name--there are people paid scads of money that do nothing but grant writing. Don't know how to write a grant and need help? Be prepared to shell out several thousand dollars for their time. Be absolutely positive that your grant is on their desk the morning applications are being taken, because by the end of the day there will be more grant applications than there will be grants given out that year, and so long as your grant request meets their criteria, it's first-come first-serve. Didn't do or cannot afford all that? Well, you're S.O.L. just like every other schmuck. I'm not sure I'd define the process as a privilege and there aren't many people who benefit from it.

Otherwise, I'm going to have to use an analogy. Our tax system uses a graduated scale where the "normal" tax percentage is at the top, and everyone who earns less gets a break in percentages so they'll be able to keep more of their money in an effort to encourage them to save or at the lowest points on our tax system not take food out of their mouths or the roof off their heads. It is the design of a graduated tax system to help enable people beneath the top tax rate along the path to better futures by not taxing them what they cannot easily afford, so they can use that money in efforts which might hopefully enable them to reach the top tax rate someday.

Because a person living in poverty pays little to no taxes, you would define that as a privilege, or a corruption of the definition of privilege?



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