On Racism and White Privilege

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Overview: 

Explores issues of race and white privilege

Excerpted from White Anti-Racist Activism: A Personal Roadmap by Jennifer R. Holladay, M.S. (Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books, Inc., 2000)

On Racism
Racism is a doctrine or teaching, without scientific support, that does three things. First, it claims to find racial differences in things like character and intelligence. Second, racism asserts the superiority of one race over another or others. Finally, it seeks to maintain that dominance through a complex system of beliefs, behaviors, use of language and policies. Racism ranges from the individual to the institutional level and reflects and enforces a pervasive view, in whitedominated U.S. culture that people of color are inferior to whites.

Racist beliefs include things like “White people are smarter than people of color,” or “White people make better teachers.” Racism can manifest itself in terms of individual behavior through hate crimes, or in institutional behavior through employment discrimination. Racism might manifest in individual language through the use of slurs, or in institutional policy through a school’s selection of Eurocentric textbooks.

Related to these relatively obvious manifestations of racism is a subtle system that also contributes to the maintenance of the racial status quo. That subtle system is white skin privilege.

On White Privilege
White skin privilege is not something that white people necessarily do, create or enjoy on purpose. Unlike the more overt individual and institutional manifestations of racism described above, white skin privilege is a transparent preference for whiteness that saturates our society. White skin privilege serves several functions. First, it provides white people with “perks” that we do not earn and that people of color do not enjoy. Second, it creates real advantages for us. White people are immune to a lot of challenges. Finally, white privilege shapes the world in which we live — the way that we navigate and interact with one another and with the world.

White Privilege: The Perks
White people receive all kinds of perks as a function of their skin privilege. Consider the following:
• When I cut my finger and go to my school or office’s first aid kit, the flesh-colored band-aid generally matches my skin tone.
• When I stay in a hotel, the complimentary shampoo generally works with the texture of my hair.
• When I run to the store to buy pantyhose at the last minute, the ‘nude’ color generally appears nude on my legs.
• When I buy hair care products in a grocery store or drug store, my shampoos and conditioners are in the aisle and section labeled ‘hair care’ and not in a separate section for ‘ethnic products.’
• I can purchase travel size bottles of my hair care products at most grocery or drug stores.

My father, who has worked in economic development for 30 years, would explain away these examples of white privilege as simple functions of supply and demand economics. White people still constitute the numerical majority in this country, so it makes sense, for example, that bandaid companies would manufacture “flesh-tone” bandages for white people.

Even if I concede to his argument (and ignore the “buying power” of communities of color), it still does not change the impact of these white privileges. As a white person, I get certain perks that people of color do not; I get the bandages and the pantyhose and the shampoo at the hotel that works with my hair. And in a new grocery store, I will not have to scan the aisles for my hair care products. They will be in the section called “hair care.” This is how I experience the world.

These seemingly benign perks also demonstrate a danger on closer examination. Let’s say that I forgot to pack my shampoo for a business trip. When I get to the hotel, I see that the complimentary shampoo is not the standard Suave product to which I am accustomed but rather Pink Oil Lotion for African American hair. I would be surprised and might even think to myself: “Those black folks and all their lobbying … This is so unfair!” I expect these perks. As a white person, I think I am entitled to them.

White Privilege: The Advantages
Certainly, white privilege is not limited to perks like band aids and hair care products. The second function of white skin privilege is that it creates significant advantages for white people. There are scores of things that I, as a white person, generally do not encounter, have to deal with or even recognize. For example:
• My skin color does not work against me in terms of how people perceive my financial responsibility, style of dress, public speaking skills, or job performance.
• People do not assume that I got where I am professionally because of my race (or because of affirmative action programs).
• Store security personnel or law enforcement officers do not harass me, pull me over or follow me because of my race.

All of these things are things that I never think about. And when the tables are turned and my white skin is used against me, I am greatly offended (and indignant). The police department in my community, like so many other law enforcement agencies throughout this country, uses policing tactics that target people of color. Two years ago, I was driving down Rosa Parks Boulevard, a street that runs through an all-black and impoverished area of town, at night. I was looking for a house that I had never been to before, so I was driving slowly, stopping and moving as I searched for numbers on residences.

Out of nowhere, this large police van pulled me over, blue lights flashing and sirens blaring, and a handful of well-armed police officers jumped out of the van and surrounded my car. I did as I was told, and got out of my car. (“Hands above your head; move slowly!”) I then succumbed to a quick physical pat-down, as well as a search of my car. The officers had pulled me over -- not only because of my erratic driving -- but also, because, in the words of one officer, I was “a white woman driving down Rosa Parks after dark.” They thought I was looking to buy drugs.

When I went to the office the next day, I relayed my story to several white colleagues. They shared my sense of violation, of anger, of rage. These co-workers encouraged me to call our legal department and report the incident. I later told the story to a colleague who is black and who lives on Rosa Parks. “You just never have to worry about those things, do you, Jennifer?” she asked and then walked off. In twelve words, she succinctly challenged my sense of privilege.

White Privilege: The World View
The third thing that white privilege does is shape the way in which we view the world and the way in which the world views us. The perks and advantages described above are part of this phenomenon, but not all of it. Consider the following:
• When I am told about our national heritage or “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
• Related, the schools that I attend or have attended use standard textbooks, which widely reflect people of my color and their contributions to the world.
• When I look at the national currency or see photographs of monuments on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., I see people of my race widely represented and celebrated.

As a white person, I see myself represented in all of these places. And, until a couple of years ago, I never questioned that representation — or why people of color were excluded. After all, people like me have done a lot for this country and for the world. If people of color had done their part, so the theory goes, they too would see themselves represented.

Well, people of color have done more than their share for this country. There is an old saying that the victors of war get to write the history of the world. White privilege works this way, too. Since white folks have been in control for so long, we have determined what is valuable or interesting or useful in terms of education. Greek and Roman mythology, Chaucer, and other canonized works have been selected and revered through the ages as critical components of any “solid liberal arts education.”

I rarely have to question the validity of these selections — this is, after all, what is valuable and considered “the real stuff.” And I am entitled to a good education, aren’t I? I never question how or why some things are valued and others are not — why some things are important to “us” and other things are not. When people begin talking about diversifying a curriculum, one of the main things that opponents say is: “I am not willing to lower standards for the sake of minority representation.”

The Black Student Coalition at my college, for example, lobbied the faculty to diversify the readings for the Literature 101 class, a required course for first-year students. One professor objected, saying: “You want me to replace Chaucer with the likes of Alice Walker?” Why do we value Chaucer more than the literary offerings of Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, or Audre Lorde? Who assigns that value and on what basis?

Things are starting to change slowly. Perhaps your high school hosted programs during Black History Month or during Asian and Hispanic Heritage Months. Maybe your college offered courses in Black, Latino, Caribbean, Native American, Asian or ethnic studies. These are good places to start, but we should not need separate months or classes. Black history is U.S. history; Chicano literature is valuable literature.

White privilege is a hidden and transparent preference that is often difficult to address. Only on closer inspection do we see how it creates a sense of entitlement, generates perks and advantages for white people and elevates our status in the world.

Comments

'privilege'

Submitted by Anonymous on 13 December 2014 - 8:06pm.

There are forms of privilege in society that take on many different forms. I'm not going to suggest that there is or is not a form of privilege that 'white' people are afforded, but it is something to which I cannot relate. If someone actually believes that a person is 'privileged' because a bandaid resembles their skin tone closer than someone else's, or hair products are more readily available for their type of hair, well that seems a bit silly to me. If that is criteria for a privilege we, as a society, have completely lost focus of some definition of the word. As a white female, I will not receive the same privilege as a black female when it comes to certain situations, i.e.; college grants or other appropriations set aside for only people of color. Privileges are granted to people for many different reasons, but if this article suggests what society is now considering privilege, perhaps there should be recognition for 'carnivore privileged' (for vegetarians when vegetarian items are not readily available in restaurants), and 'homosexual privilege' and 'Christian privilege', etc. It's offensive to be segregated because of our skin color, and it's something I've never done to another person. People have become too familiar with being apologetic for what they are, whether it's their religion, race, gender, political affiliation, financial standing, or being proud of their heritage, i.e. American…I still believe that, regardless of any of these factors, if you are a decent, hard working person who is a good steward to those around you, you should never feel pressured into apologizing for your background or personal choices.

white privilege

Submitted by Anonymous on 11 December 2014 - 7:58pm.

the only thing that I would like about white privilege is that white folks don't realize is that we wear our skin color like it's camouflage. It doesn't sound like much until we understand all of the things that we take for granted.

The Language of Victimization and Denial

Submitted by Anonymous on 11 December 2014 - 12:07am.

Many good discussions herein. Racism in its subtle forms should be erased. But the dialogue around "white privilege" is toxic. It's so ironic that it accuses whites of feeling some universality of position, yet is applied universally to whites. It takes many logical twists and turns to justify its position. It goes far beyond the simple points of band aids and panty hose, to illustrate the subtleties that should be changed. Yes, white people created this mess long ago. We are all now stuck with it. But the dialogue unfortunately isn't about getting along. It's been monopolized by a group from the far left who do not seek equality, but power. It's highly politically charged. The implication of the zero-sum system creates the image of debt, instead of the opportunity to create for one's self. The psychological paradigm of victimhood is a powerful weapon, using the status of victimhood to gain power, and to disavow responsibility. The rhetoric goes beyond equality though. It screams of wanting psychological, emotional recognition. At it's core, it is a psychological cry, and carries many of the indicia of such. The extraction of guilt from the "privileged" is one form of emotional currency. The rhetoric degrades those who achieve personally. It's disheartening, because it offends every single person who improves their circumstances. It's maddening, because no one can achieve that feeling except within themselves, yet it's sought through emotional extortion.

Offended White Male

Submitted by Anonymous on 9 December 2014 - 7:03am.

White privilege seems to imply that as an individual I am guilty for injustices I did not cause or choose to benefit from. As a person who supports Affirmative Action and socialist, liberal economic policies I find this rhetoric defamatory, insulting and highly offensive. I am fully aware of the need to compensate for the generational effects of institutional racism and sexism, so please explain why is my guilt or innocence, and dignity as a human being at the discretion of someone else instead of the content my own deeds and actions? I absolutely refuse to be cast as an insoluble villain for the career gains of a politician.

You DO benefit from white

Submitted by Anonymous on 19 December 2014 - 10:20am.

You DO benefit from white privilege automatically whether you mean to or not. Many of the achievements you have in life can be partially attributed to being a white male in America. When you go to a job interview, you most likely don't have to overcome cultural differences with the person you are interviewing with, giving you a leg up no matter what. White privilege exists because we refuse to acknowledge the inherent biases and racism that still exists in this country. Go watch "What Would You Do?", a show that brings to light many of these privileges. People of color are deemed by the public as "suspicious" when people see them doing something out of the ordinary, like supposedly stealing a bike. However, when they switched the perpetrator for a white male, many did not see him as stealing the bike. They assumed it was his. Those little things tell me that if biases can exist in random daily places, I know it exists in the workplace, schools, etc. People of color have to overcome being part of an environment that is not built from their cultural background all the time. They are the ones that have to assimilate. It's exhausting and unfair to play a role all the time. I'm sure you have never had to change the way you talk and act because your workplace makes you feel uncomfortable to be yourself.

Offended White Male

Submitted by Anonymous on 18 December 2014 - 7:36pm.

This rhetoric isn't personal. The fact that you feel "insulted, offended and defamed" actually proves the article's point. Of all the white privilege on the planet, yours comes second only to that of RICH, white males. This isn't even about a "need to compensate" as much as it is about a need to ACKNOWLEDGE that it is so! We can't change what we don't acknowledge ...

It is about awareness

Submitted by Anonymous on 18 December 2014 - 9:26am.

I grew up in a small, all white, town in the Midwest. The idea of while privilege never occurred to me until I went to college and had an Asian roommate. Suddenly I learned about being followed while shopping and the difficulty of finding make up if your complexion was different. This isn't about blame or guilt. It is about opening eyes and understanding that there is this underlying aspect of our society. Change cannot occur unless we have these discussions even if they are difficult.

Take it into consideration instead of being offended

Submitted by Anonymous on 10 December 2014 - 3:35pm.

The point is that even though it isn't your fault nor do you ask for it, it's still there, and that's something that the white community have to work towards addressing as a whole. The author isn't saying you're a bad person or villainize you in any way, but there are Caucasians that refuse to even acknowledge that white privilege even exist. The whole point is most of the time, it's unbeknownst to you, but this is what this is.

Celebrating Community Assets

Submitted by Anonymous on 4 December 2014 - 9:37pm.

Two thoughts ---

1.) I think the concepts of under-privilege and over-privilege are based on a very limiting idea of scarcity. But the good news is that the best things the world has to offer are not a "zero sum equation." If one person enjoys a healthy community, beautiful landscapes and parks, the arts, books, good education, sports, technology ... that enjoyment does not take away from the ability of others to enjoy the same things.

2.) Yes, it's important to recognize the barriers and obstacles that face us and divide communities. But not in a way that increases divisions. The most important focus should be on nurturing, sharing and building the strengths of all the families/youth/individuals in the whole community.

Privilege (not just white)

Submitted by Anonymous on 2 December 2014 - 6:46pm.

White privilege is an unfortunate part of American society. To be born white instead of another color means one's going to experience a less troubled life than someone who is born in the minority. Our society still has a white majority, while non-white groups (African-American, Asian, Latino and American Indian together, plus the Pacific Islander race in US Census race category boxes) continue to feel excluded or restricted in what they can accomplish as individuals. It's still a fact in America, white police officers will treat a black person differently than a white person in a routine stop. The Michael Brown incident and Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson's walk away from facing charges reminds us again white privilege is in effect.

There are other kinds of privilege. I'm aware of male privilege, although I'm male, but I'm keenly aware of sexism is a problem alike racism. Women experience limitations and different treatment in society than males. On average, women are paid less (77 cents to a dollar) than a man makes doing the same work. I find this unfair and discriminatory, despite we have laws protecting female employees from sex discrimination practices.

And we have one percent privilege (the very rich), first world privilege (if you're born and live in the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia/NZ and Japan) and middle class privilege (not earning less than average annual income per person or household). Social/income class is another issue Americans tend to not want to face, because we believe we're the "Land of opportunity" for all. Regardless of what color, race, ethnicity or culture you are or originated from, the biggest indicator of privilege is socioeconomic in financial wealth.

Honestly, I want all forms of prejudice and discrimination to go away, but not a realistic goal at least in my lifetime. White privilege, male privilege and other privileges based on one's age, disability, sexual orientation and religion...prevents us from achieving full equality in our society and our lives. We have to realize people aren't going to be treated equally, but we need to change that to ensure all people have to be treated fairly. To have some kind of privilege and not be aware of it may make us ignore or avoid the notion of privilege, and we shouldn't: We must put an end to systematic racism and status discrimination. +

Privilege (not just white)

Submitted by Anonymous on 14 December 2014 - 3:41pm.

Although I do not disagree with what you have said, I would like to add something to your view on sexism. It is not just that males doing the same work as females are paid more than their female countarparts, it is also about the opportunities for females to do a higher level of work (ie promoted) are in many cases limited, unless of course there is some sort of affirmative action involved, in which case, many times women often receive an unmerited benefit.

The Use of "We"

Submitted by Anonymous on 2 December 2014 - 4:50pm.

This excerpt explains racism and white privilege is usefully direct terms but then goes on to describe "white privilege" from the perspective of "we", indicating that the writer is white and is writing for white readers. I think the headline should make clear from the outset that this article is from a personal viewpoint of a white writer and that the writing should be adapted to be more inclusive of readers who are not white. While we readers might expect the default race of a writer to be white in other magazines, I would expect a different approach in Teaching Tolerance.

i totally agree

Submitted by Anonymous on 26 November 2014 - 2:23pm.

I agree with most of the view points on this subject. Ive even wept reading some of of these life experiences.
Experiences that some of you witnessed first hand, because they really hit home and touched my heart.
Now, i agree with this mostly because, being a black man, the majority of what we see on t.v. or movies is caucasion people.
When i apply for a job or credit im always looked at differently from my caucasion peers, its a known fact that blacks are placed in an entire different tax bracket than whites. To this day if a white person walks in a store bare foot, or no shirt or sagging anything is rarely said, but lord forbid if a black kid did the exact same thing, when the sign clearly says no shoes no shirt no service. Thats why i can fully understand first hand, (and by the way i totally agree with the sign in the store, lol).
Now you do have to ask yourself though, why is it that if everything originated from africa, and the true jews are said to be black, all the lighter skin ones is all we see or hear about? In every culture you have your light skinned and dark skinned people. Almost every cultuture depicts lighter skined people on t.v. more so as if the darker skined people are irrelevant or non existant. The lighter skined people hold the most dignified or elite positions around the world more so than the darker skinned people. So yes i can see the privilages that many get compared to the few.
There people of color in almost if not every culture yet you only are shown
by the media the lighter skinned people with the exception of a few.
As i see it we all live in a society where a diverse culture is seperated by wealth and color, and no one race is truly who they claim to be, and until we learn to respect our differences is when and only when we will learn to know how to love one another as the bible tells us to, as brothers and sisters and dispel ourselves from the evil hatred of this world. God does not see color.

Racism.

Submitted by Anonymous on 21 November 2014 - 4:29pm.

There's no point in racism. There's not point at all.

What is the point?

Submitted by Anonymous on 29 October 2014 - 12:37am.

I agree that white privilege does exist. It's scary when a person of color is shot for simply doing nothing and a white person is sheltered from such a thing.
I'm an underprivileged white girl from a lower class neighborhood. Hardly lived around other white people until I was about 14. Every once in awhile growing up I would be corrected that I was white by brown and black people, and reminded that I was white trash by rich, white elitists.
My issues with this are small compared to people of color who are clearly in danger. They are constantly harassed and even killed.

What can we do to stop this?

Why

Submitted by Anonymous on 11 November 2014 - 12:24pm.

Is it ok to throw around generalizations about "white" people and their alleged privileges? It is not. Racism itself is the problem. The same error in thinking applied to any race is the whole problem. Stop turning the flawed thinking on different races and change the thoughts themselves. Look at people for who they are, not their race. Enough racism.

The fact of the matter is,

Submitted by Anonymous on 27 November 2014 - 6:00pm.

The fact of the matter is, every white person has white privilege. It is the WHOLE race. That doesn't mean that every white person has a perfect life, but they all have the privileges listed over black people, end of story.

You're correct, but....

Submitted by Anonymous on 19 November 2014 - 9:11pm.

You are absolutely right. If everyone simultaneously did that, racial inequality would disappear... at least within a couple generations. There would still be economic and educational issues that would be linked to race, but people like the above woman would be on equal footing with people of color.

But that assumption is the problem. Everyone is not going to simultaneously do that, because not everyone even realizes it's a problem. Or maybe they don't think it's a problem, after all, there ARE still racists out there. Either way, until there are no more racists in power and systemic inequality of wiped out (by which I mean large populations of people of color who lack adequate schools and work, for example), telling white people about their privilege will be necessary in order for them to also stop seeing color and fight for equality for all.

The Myth of Racism

Submitted by Anonymous on 22 October 2014 - 7:46am.

Anthropology and medical science have an agreement in studying the one and only Human Race. Racism will continue to be expressed as long as there is an insistence on the myth of there being "white" and "colored" people on this planet.
I could see it if one of us had two noses or three eyes if not a type of blood that is only found in one group of Human Beings. But the fact that anthropologist continue to study the history of the Human Race and Doctors study the medical treatment of all Humans allows me to keep faith that sooner or later the basic fact of there only being one "race" of Humans on this planet will be openly discussed and accepted.
Individuals insisting on discussing the difference of people on the basis of the color of their skin should've been educated to know better by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the millions of American citizens of the 20th Century.
The recent reports by the news media on how "white people think about about being white"only shows how the news media are very slow learners!

Trying to figure this out

Submitted by Anonymous on 16 October 2014 - 2:04pm.

Mostly because of the John Stewart Bill O'Reilly thing from last night -- what is the difference between "white privilege" and "racism"?

Isn't saying something like

"white people don't fear being pulled over by police because they tend to not get shot when that happens"

the same as saying

"black people are discriminated against when they get pulled over and are more likely to be assumed up to no good? (i.e. racism) "

What I am really asking is instead of saying "white privilege is a thing exists" shouldn't we be saying "racism is a real problem and it still exists?"

About being pulled over

Submitted by Anonymous on 28 October 2014 - 9:07am.

Just a thought: Police sometime operate on statistics and what they have witnessed. So, what is the proportion of crimes being committed by white compared to black? I'm sure, by human instinct, they react on this. So, I think it is best to look at statistics and human experience. I believe we should look at the problem as a whole not just parts of it.

As far as "racism is a real problem and it still exists".............Racism will always exist in one form or another. I do believe we need to keep moving ahead in a positive way but we should not over emphasize what does not exist.

To become familiar with what I'm trying to say, go to: http://www.tolerance.org/article/racism-and-white-privilege

Lastly: We need to stop nik-picking and approach problems with grounded, thought-out, data supported answers. Not pie-in-the-sky, Utopian, illogical ideals.

Are you kidding ?

Submitted by Anonymous on 24 November 2014 - 9:35pm.

69.3% of crimes are committed by WHITE people. While only 28.1% is committed by black people.
www.FBI.gov

Talk about illogical. Here you are telling this author to do the very thing you failed to do.

White people commit TWICE as much rape, aggravated assault, larceny, car theft, vandalism, fraud, drug abuse violations and the list goes on and on and on! (Fbi.gov)

Human instinct? Statistics? Go look in the mirror because this article was written for people with your illogical, misinformed thinking.

Are you kidding?

Submitted by Anonymous on 4 December 2014 - 7:01pm.

What percent of the population is white? Roughly 65-70%. 12% black and 18-20% other. 12% commit 30% of the crime. But what percent of black people are institutionalized. Statistics are staggering how much time selling drugs get as compared to any of the things you mentioned. 10/20/life for drugs. From slavery to institutional slavery.

Friend to Enemy

Submitted by Anonymous on 5 October 2014 - 5:54pm.

The concept of "White Privilege" has to be the most divisive concept in the fight for equal rights. It effectively changes us from a white allies to a common and ever present enemy.

It eliminates any chance of white redemption. Seeking to redeem oneself from the actions of our ancestors becomes impossible. Simply existing makes us complicit with the crimes as we are enjoying the spoils of race warfare.

"You don't understand the concept of white privilege," you might say. Your defensive reaction proves your racism.

All I can know or understand is what I see, read and experience. And I have only seen the concept of white privilege used to bully and dismiss white opinions, no matter how grounded in reason they are. I have seen white victims slandered ruthlessly by opportunistic racial vitriol. Issues that didn't involve race are suddenly hijacked and turned into "who has it worse" pissing contests.

Aggressive social justice warriors have told me to my face in front of a room of silent people that I am a spoiled, rich little white christian boy whose opinion means nothing because I have no idea what its like to be oppressed.

They judged me because I was white. They didn't realize I was a disabled, gay atheist who allied himself with black people and has actively participated in equal rights events.

But no, its "I don't like your opinion, so I'm going to throw it away using the concept of white privilege."

I could tell you about all the straight, christian, ableist privilege you have (if you are any of those). I could go further back and show how your religion completely destroyed my people, the Robogdii, their kingdom, and commit cultural and historical genocide, removing all sources of information, and burning any books that illuminate our origins as a people.

But I won't because I don't want to "other" you from my cause. I fear I would take away a possible supporter. So why do black people use white privilege to shake a stick at people who would defend them? It may be that it feels good to chew people out when you have a problem you cant solve on your own. But you can't win this without getting support. I know I can't protect gay people without yours.

Open Your Eyes

Submitted by Anonymous on 25 October 2014 - 12:47pm.

"Aggressive social justice warriors have told me to my face in front of a room of silent people that I am a spoiled, rich little white christian boy whose opinion means nothing because I have no idea what its like to be oppressed.

They judged me because I was white. They didn't realize I was a disabled, gay atheist who allied himself with black people and has actively participated in equal rights events."

Hello, that is white privilege right there. Without even knowing you, you were cast in the light of being spoiled, rich and free from the burden of understanding oppression. You didn't even realize it, and it only offended you because you are disabled, gay and atheist. Those don't come off as easily as skin color. That's what white privilege is. It doesn't make you an enemy, it's something you need to be able to see though. How much more effective could you be in the fight against racial discrimination if you could understand that. Also, I find it difficult to fathom that you truly fight for racial equality when you can make statements like, "So why do black people use white privilege to shake a stick at people who would defend them? It may be that it feels good to chew people out when you have a problem you cant solve on your own," a statement that undermines everything you do. Now it sounds like you feel you're doing black people a favor.

I'm sure black people could

Submitted by Anonymous on 18 October 2014 - 10:29am.

I'm sure black people could use many more white, disabled, gay atheists on their side.

Let me add some more examples:

Submitted by Anonymous on 30 September 2014 - 11:14am.

Let me add some more examples:

– When you search Google images "baby", you will find mostly white babies. If you want to find only black babies, you have to search "black baby". Google "mother" "grandma" and the same thing occurs. This is true for

– When I search for stock images of people, I never see tags like "white (race)" or "white babies". In addition, white people aren't tagged under "ethnicity", even though white people have an ethnicity.

– Your race is not seen as a "minority".

– Your race (and a few other races) is better depicted. Find a UNICEF poster depicting a WHITE child facing issues.

– Your occupation wont stereotype your entire race. People ask "why are most basketball players black?" but never ask "why are most golf players white?" No one would pay attention if cab drivers were white and not Indian.

– If you're a doctor, people assume your medical education is adequate. No one dismisses you because they assume medical education in other countries is inferior.

– You can dress how you please without being labeled a "gangsta".

That's silly

Submitted by Anonymous on 11 December 2014 - 12:49pm.

What you are describing is simply reflective of the fact that Whites are the majority in this country, and so you naturally expect to find more images of White babies, more Whites on televsion, movies, what have you. There is nothing egregious about it. And it is ridiculous to use as a serious cause for grievance. And part of the way people perceive a certian group has a lot to do with the image they convey, I'm sorry. When you have a youth culture which glorifies being a thug or gangsta (not everyone of course but too many),trying to get people to view you in a postive or neutral light will likely be an uphill climb. Both sides need to be willing to make changes. That is only fair.

Thank you for the other

Submitted by Anonymous on 21 October 2014 - 1:16pm.

Thank you for the other examples. I had never thought about the race of the people in images I search on google... I also tried "doctor" and "teacher."

"Privilege" is natural

Submitted by Anonymous on 20 September 2014 - 11:16pm.

Of course there is privilege. If you are a Han Chinese in China, you have "Han Chinese" privilege. In any country the dominant cultural/ethnic group always has privilege, otherwise it would not be dominant by definition.

If you somehow manage to bring white people down, someone else will take their place and will assert their privilege. Ultimately it is always one group versus another and the way these things always fall is along ethnic/racial/religious lines. It's not about who's smarter or better, it's about "your people" versus "the others".

"Privilege" is natural

Submitted by Anonymous on 23 September 2014 - 6:47am.

What you are saying is all fine and dandy if you are not touting his idea of equality. One cannot have one's cake and eat it too. If their is true equality, there is no domination. Domination is usully perpetuated systematically, as this helps to maintain domination. You have absolutely no prove that if white people are 'brought down, someone else will take their place'. In a TRUE democracy, there will be diversity and a system that will not be based solely upon color.

Democracy

Submitted by Anonymous on 2 November 2014 - 10:11am.

We (United States of America) are not a democracy at all. We're a federal republic. 'True democracy' has never existed, not even the greek inventors of 'democracy' had a democracy! Only free, land-owning males above the age of 18 could vote and even then it was only the first 6000 into the building! We have limits on who can and cannot vote, we have representatives, we have a president, we have senators, we have a constitution. All of those things are not depicting of a democracy, but of a republic. We then modify a few republican ideals and presto! A federal republic is born.
Seriously, read the federalist papers.

depressing...

Submitted by Anonymous on 15 September 2014 - 11:45am.

I've read the article and all the comments, and am stunned by one thing: the degree to which people quickly take personally anything that is said about "race." If we're white, (some of us) vehemently try to deny that there is ANY DIFFERENCE between our experience and the experience of a black or brown person in this society. Or, we change the subject, make it all-about-us, and start giving examples of one or several times when WE were stopped by a cop...

This is denial. Why do we do it? Because we don't want to feel guilty. We don't want to feel uncomfortable. We are miffed at the thought that "we" are to blame for the suffering of others. Interestingly, this miffed reaction is also "privilege." Some of us think we are entitled to not feel uncomfortable. So, some of us--when we hear a black person relate how their nephew was shot by police--would prefer that this grieving person just shut up about it, just get over it. We might even advise them to consider what that nephew might have done to deserve being shot...because, if he deserved it, then we won't feel as uncomfortable. We might even start talking about some white person we know who got victimized in some way, because then we won't feel as uncomfortable.

Why are we uncomfortable? Because we think that we're being BLAMED for someone else's suffering or death. But in fact we're not. A crappy situation can exist without it being anyone's fault. We inherited a system of thinking and unthinking, and some benefit from it and some don't. The point is, we're not "to blame;" we are simply "responsible" if we CHOOSE to be. If we get off our narcissistic high horse and stop making it all-about-us, we might notice that we white people DON'T bear the brunt of police violence, stereotyping as drug users, stereotyping as thieves, stereotyping as uneducated, stereotyping as being in gangs, neglecting our children, "playing the race card."

Why does it matter that we KNOW that we are not subjected to these stereotypes? Simply because if a system of inequity is ever going to become equitable (where all are protected rather than all being reduced to NOT being protected), AWARENESS of inequity is essential.

Some here have said that racism is caused by TALKING about racism. They are saying that racism will go away if we stop talking about it, if we stop fueling this now non-existent, perhaps historic but now totally out of date thing that no longer exists or exerts any power at all.

Again, this might be "privilege" that is telling us that some people should just stop "complaining." If I, as a white person or a person of any other color (or gender), say that people need to stop talking about something, it means I think that My perceptions are the more correct ones, it means that I think I have nothing to learn, no questions to ask, that there is no such thing as a blind spot (for me, that is). It means I think I have the right to silence other people's experience, to say that their experience is just vapor, just something they conjured up by *talking about it. They are "crazy" and now they are "racist" too (even though racism doesn't exist...).

For me, the most important realization of privilege is that as a white person with white kids (and one of mixed heritage), I DON'T have to feel afraid while they are out in their car that they will be stopped by police just for being there. I don't have to tell my kids, each time they leave the house, "if a cop stops you for not using your turn signal, keep your hands visible! don't move! he might think you have a gun!" I don't have to tell them this because in our society, looking to be of European heritage is considered normal, respectable, non-criminal, etc. My kids can be out there and just look like 'young people having fun,' even if they are stopped in traffic for something like a missing tail light. Keaton Otis was shot right in my neighborhood (I was there, right after, and locked down in Walgreen's by police) some 28 times when he was stopped for having his tail light out, or not using his turn signal (I can't recall which minor thing it was). The cop said he "looked like a gang member." Therefore, the cop thought he was reaching for a gun when he moved his hands. I know that as a white person I can be confident that if MY tail light is out and I reach for my purse to pull out my ID and my insurance card, I won't be seen as "reaching for a gun." I won't "look like a gang member." Instead, I'll look like "Old-lady-in-a-Saab." That too is a stereotype, a set of assumptions based on appearance, but the point is: "old lady in a Saab" is not a demographic that is profiled / suspected / feared. THAT fact, that I am not subject to a dangerous reduction of protected status, is "privilege." The fact that police are on the look out for young black drivers instead of me even means that my minor traffic offenses and my missing tail light might not even be noticed. In other words, one aspect of "privilege" is that sometimes I am directly benefiting from the fact of someone else's negative stereotyping / targeting. And of course, I can be confident that I'm not likely to be shot and killed based on stereotypes.

Should I feel guilty that I am in a protected category? NO. Can I do anything to help change society so it's not open season on young black men? YES. Should I feel guilty if I don't do anything at all to help change society? NO, but I think I should feel like a fool if I spend any time denying that I AM protected, and denying that the young black men are not.

CNN recently showed the video of two white guys who were there when MIke Brown was shot by the police officer in Ferguson. Their real time account can be heard on the video, where they say EXACTLY what the black witnesses said earlier when asked by the media to give their accounts. CNN described this video as a "game changer."

OK, suddenly, because it is WHITE people sharing their witness account, the CNN audience can NOW take it seriously. ...As if black and brown people cannot possibly give an objective, honest account of what they saw.

This CNN example is the essence of "white privilege." We white people go through life with more credibility--the credibility floor is higher for us. Should I feel GUILTY about this? NO!!!! But if i deny it, I'm part of the problem. Because, the privileges I enjoy should be the birthright of every human. That's what I want. That's what I want to be reminded of each time someone shares their truth about the word "privilege."

Recently on Facebook two videos were circulated, one of a white, jay walking guy waving a rifle and talking crazy in the middle of the street. The cops on the scene wisely talked him down, called him "sir," said they didn't want anyone to get hurt. They spent some 45 minutes at this.

No one got hurt.

The contrasting video was of the young black man shot early in August in a Walmart store. He was talking on his phone to his girlfriend and leaning on a toy gun "like a cane." Within seconds of the arrival of the police, with no questions asked, he was shot and killed. When he heard them coming and turned to the officers aiming guns at him, his last words were, "It's not real!"

In the case of the crazy talking gun-toting white jaywalker, the police said he had a right to "open carry." The black guy, on the other hand, didn't even have the right to lean on a toy.

As a woman, I also know (from long experience) that I have to work much harder than my male equivalent in order to PROVE my skills and knowledge. My long time male work partner is automatically considered to be credible (we both are workplace trainers, and I trained him in many of the tools we both use). He is the normative ideal for workplace authoritativeness--white, educated, middle aged, male. I am: white, educated, middle aged, female. There is also another difference, I am MORE experienced in the work we do. Knowing all this, he and I have learned how to work together to make this process of proving-Trudy's-credibility more efficient.

Should my work partner, Tim, feel guilty about his *automatic* gender-based credibility while I have to *prove* mine? NO. But he takes responsibility to make every shared context work for both of us, and work for the people we work with. I like that. :)

Having said all this, I DO strongly agree with those who have posted about "white privilege," as a term that is very often used in dysfunctional ways. "Check your privilege" is in my view not only a useless piece of advice, it has an implicit blaming, personalizing tone to it, and it is a tactic for silencing(ANY "you" statement is!) There are far more sophisticated ways to raise the issue or create common cause around systemic issues of inequality. To use the gender example again, if white guys in a meeting are unconsciously using far more air time, talking over the women, and listening only / mostly to one another, I'm much better off planning in advance to have that meeting facilitated by a strong and capable person who knows how to draw everyone out equally. I think I am a fool if I think the better strategy is to say to those participants, "hey, check your privilege," or accuse them of "dominating." And, best of all, in the process of experiencing a facilitated meeting, both men and women learn how to manage a meeting in a way that draws everyone out and no one feels blamed. Blaming gets us nowhere(btw, the author of this piece did no blaming whatsoever).

We regular folk (the 99%) spend a lot of time engaging in what is called Horizontal Hostility. That's what I think is happening in so many of these replies to this article. The person commenting about class is quite correct. We (all genders, all races, all sub-groups who are not the 1%) DO fail to see the structure of power. We DO fail to see and then make common cause among those of us on the bottom rungs. We are so eager to turn on each other instead-- on the basis of little or no thought, little or no stepping back, little or no curiosity. We rarely try to build bridges, we rarely hear ourselves saying, "wow, tell me more. I have a different view than you seem to, but I'm interested in hearing how you got to your view..."

Wouldn't that be refreshing? These skills are Dialogue Skills, and rarely do we ever use them.

p.s. Why do these all post as "anonymous?" it makes us all look like we're hiding. My name is Trudy.

Thank you

Submitted by Anonymous on 25 November 2014 - 9:41pm.

Thank you.

Thank you

Submitted by Anonymous on 15 October 2014 - 2:37pm.

Well said.

Tara

Thanks.

Submitted by Anonymous on 13 October 2014 - 8:42am.

Great response.

thank you

Submitted by Anonymous on 29 September 2014 - 11:58am.

thank you Trudy

signed
Jennifer (black girl)

Mixed feelings; we need to raise the bar

Submitted by Anonymous on 30 August 2014 - 3:20pm.

I understand and appreciate the value of privilege as a concept. In the ideal, it allows us to shift the focus from individual prejudice to systemic issues. I liked how you broke down types of privilege into those caused by (my words) supply and demand, by widespread prejudices, assumptions, and discrimination (not all of it originating from whites), and by "we've always done it this way" attitudes. My mixed feelings about the term come from two factors.

First, I find that in common conversations or Facebook postings, the term privilege is used primarily to attack others(your post was not in this category). Privilege is most commonly framed as "White Privilege" - ignoring other forms of privilege and intersectionality, as though race relations were the dominant force in most people's lives. When I think about privilege in my life, class privilege has been more dominant than racial privilege in shaping my personal experience. I find that instead of being used to open people's eyes, the term is used to accuse and silence. To tell people that no matter how much they try, they will never understand. That they need to shut up. That the simple fact that they were born is harming people. That may not be the intent. But if we wish the concept of privilege to make a difference rather than shame and blame, it can never be directed at an individual.

Second, I have yet to see a post about privilege that has any follow-up action attached. Is there, in fact, anything I can do about my privileged status beyond being aware that others do not share it? I know there are actions that can be taken to change things. However, pieces written about privilege often seem to assume that nothing can be done. I know that is not true, but let's start looking beyond mere "awareness" as a goal.

I can use my privileged status as a middle-class, educated white person to benefit others. Requests that are dismissed when originating from people of color might be heard more clearly coming from someone else. Perhaps I can speak to my children's school about the need to cover the whole range of human history, rather than merely provide a "classical education". Or I can ask my police department what their policies are regarding racial profiling, and what steps they take to avoid excessive use of force. Perhaps there are audit measures that could be put in place to provide checks and balances and enhance trust. I could ask my company's HR department to train managers on actively recruiting people whose race or gender is underrepresented in a position. The tendency of managers to hire someone who looks like them has been widely studied. Perhaps there could be a lobbying campaign to persuade Hollywood to be less stereotypical in their treatment of practically everyone and to hire actors who better represent their viewing audience. Perhaps we can raise the bar from having "conversations" about race in which one or both parties are regularly told to stop whining / check your privilege to having genuine discussions about creating a better world.

Succinct and well stated

Submitted by Anonymous on 11 August 2014 - 9:06am.

It's a good overview of White privilege. So many times, people will use the phrases "lose your White privilege" or "White people abuse their privilege", as if all White are too blame for racism or the privileges of skin color in a racist society. As you stated, you can't help being White, but you can support equality and not be a racist. Denigrating or prejudging potential allies because they are White is not helpful.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Totally disagree

Submitted by Anonymous on 7 July 2014 - 2:16am.

Frankly, the very term 'White Privilege' is racist. The truth of the matter is that when a single ethnic group dominates the cultural development of any country or region, the social, economic, and cultural structures of those nations will reflect the values of the dominant group.

Which is why 'Greek and Roman mythology, Chaucer, and other canonized works have been selected and revered through the ages as critical components of any solid liberal arts education.' Because for American culture, and it's European counterpart, it was these works which shaped our society. Cultural works by individuals of other ethnic groups did not. Would you decry the Chinese for having their education system highlight the works of Chinese individuals? Would they have 'Chinese Privilege' because they didn't provide equal coverage of Korean or Japanese works?

We live in America. Like it or not, our country was founded by European Caucasians, and our history reflects that. Lamenting on how people of color are 'underrepresented' is silly, because they aren't. Their cultural contributions are recognized. Like every other child in the US education system, I learned about people like George Washington Carver, MLK, and Rosa Parks.

Totally Disagree

Submitted by Anonymous on 1 October 2014 - 8:10pm.

Actually this country was founded by Native Americans and then stolen away from them. I don't honestly, think that there is anyone on this forum who is stating that you should be ashamed to be white. They are merely stating that in this country white privileges are allowed in every faction. Yes, you did have to study about individuals such as George Washington Carver, MLK and Rosa Parks, and I guarantee you it was only on February on Black History Month. We live in a country where US History is a requirement and in that history class we glance over the fact that who the first settlers were, how the land was taken away from them, how Africans were tricked about brought over to America, enslaved, then after the Civil War was over you used illegal tactics such as Black Codes and Jim Crow laws to prolong them being able to get better jobs and education to take over the family. Not to mention the Tuskegee Experiment and the impact that is still being felt today by individuals who ancestors were experimented on.

Please explain how we live in a society where on regular basis now Caucasian cops have been allowed without being penalized for centuries of killing unarmed black and brown men and women. Explain to me how people of color are still not allowed to move in any area they want to even when they have worked hard, got the proper education, and have the means but are threatened because Caucasian individuals feel that they don't belong.

This has been going on for years. The fact that you write that this country was founded by European Caucasians even when you know that it's incorrect shows just how you being a European Caucasian believe that as usually nothing is wrong and we should all just be happy to be here.

Totally Disagree

Submitted by Anonymous on 23 September 2014 - 6:50am.

You have just simultaniously refuted and proved you whole argument! If "our country was founded by European Caucasions, and our history reflects that," then you are justifying the "white privilege"! The whole thing that you are saying about Chinese, Koreans, etc., is based upon nationality—not race. What else did you learn about "people like George Washington Carver, MLK, and Rosa Parks"? Did you learn that they were all victims of :white privilege"?

"The whole thing that you are

Submitted by Anonymous on 3 December 2014 - 5:09pm.

"The whole thing that you are saying about Chinese, Koreans, etc., is based upon nationality—not race." Race and nationality are synonomous in Japan and Korea--to the extent that you can never become Japanese or Korean if you're not considered of the Japanese or Korean "race".

White Privilege

Submitted by Anonymous on 9 September 2014 - 6:43pm.

I can't imagine a more lucid reply to this topic. It's completely a matter of common sense to me, and expending any energy at all examining this "white privilege" is totally a waste of time. Mainly because other than accepting the situation for what it is, there's nothing anyone can do as a group or individual to make any significant change, or reversal of the current structure present in this country as a result of how it came to be.

white Privilege

Submitted by Anonymous on 1 September 2014 - 12:56am.

There is White Privilege. I wish you and others would stop denying it. I wish you would have the courage to look at the truth.

Ok....

Submitted by Anonymous on 23 September 2014 - 4:39pm.

I agree there is white privilege. Now, how do you propose we fix it equitably? Trey

Totally Disagree

Submitted by Anonymous on 31 August 2014 - 9:10pm.

Would you be okay if you woke up a different color?....No? White privilege.

Celebrate Humanity

Submitted by Anonymous on 23 November 2014 - 12:02pm.

After living a life of 'white privilege' - I would wake up disoriented, alienated, and I would feel isolated.

I am white, as a little girl I did not identify as my color. I admit I often wondered why God made me so plain. I felt guilty in elementary school reading about how the Native American's lost their land and lives, how the African people were forced into slavery, and how Hitler killed the Jewish people. I felt a part of a culture that did not find value human beings as equal. I since then have kept my eyes focusing on others no matter who they are as human beings. Each with their own history of experiences, heritage and culture, and right to the pursuit of happiness. As a middle aged woman I see now despite good wishes towards humanity, I realize, white privilege is weaved into society. I did not get to choose my race, my sexual preference, or my family origin. I do however get to choose to be open to the truth of the world around me. There is an imbalance of power and influence in our society. I do believe as more people recognize this truth, it will eventually create change. How? I do not know. Every human being should be extended the same rights and privileges.

I want the world to be different than it is!

'Greek and Roman mythology,

Submitted by Anonymous on 15 August 2014 - 12:36am.

'Greek and Roman mythology, Chaucer, and other canonized works have been selected and revered through the ages as critical components of any solid liberal arts education.' Because for American culture, and it's European counterpart"

The science and philosophy of which were taken from Islamic countries, India and China, but because these places were colonized by Whites - who write the history books - the credit wasn't received where it was due. Check your facts.

Sardar, Z 2001 'Above, beyond, and at the center of the science wars',2001, in Ashman, Keith M. and Baringer, Philip S. (eds.) After the science wars Ch. 8, pp. 120-139 New York : Routledge, 2001. vi, 224 p.

Greek and Roman mythology.

Submitted by Anonymous on 29 November 2014 - 1:50am.

Islam did not exist during roman and greek times.