When to Cite White Privilege . . . and When Not To

2017-07-17 – Lots of my friends are fond of posting stuff on Facebook about white privilege.

White privilege is definitely a thing (WP). But I would say that it is a statistical thing. Some white people have a lot of WP. Some white people have a medium amount of WP. Some white people have little or none. On average, white people have a medium amount of WP.

The mistake people make is applying the statistic (the stereotype) to all whites. You accuse a low-WP individual of having the statistical medium amount of WP and  you’re just wrong. You accuse a high-WP of having the statistical medium amount of WP and you’re also wrong.

If you go beyond accusation and impose punishment of some sort based on the statistical medium, you end up over-punishing the low-WP person and under-punishing the high-WP person.

So who are these low- and high-WP people? Well, it pretty much correlates to income level (but even that is a stereotype). So, we end up over-punishing poor people and under-punishing rich people.

What a surprise!

Failing to make a distinction based on the individual’s situation is not good. You could call it racism (though I wouldn’t because that would require a pretty fancy definition of racism). You could call it classism (that might be getting closer, but it’s not right either). You could call it bigotry or prejudice. Maybe there is no word for it—other than wrong.

When I started, I said that I thought white privilege is a thing, but I qualified that to say that it is a statistical thing. That’s not to say that there are no true white supremacists who explicitly claim white privilege as a good thing. There most certainly are.

But my friends on Facebook who post stuff about white privilege are usually talking about folks who have nothing to do with espoused white supremacists. They are usually talking about people who think they are above that. They are usually talking about people who scorn open racism.

What they are talking about is what used to be called “consciousness raising.” Today, I suppose, it would be called getting “woke.”

Being woke is definitely a good thing. But I see a danger in proselytizing these people to woke-itude. Because the type of racism that is talked about is so-called systemic racism.

Woke people need to band together with the un-woke to work on eliminating systemic racism, or it’s never going to happen. And it’s not going to happen by levying punishment on the low-WP people. They are the wrong ones.

They are the wrong ones.

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