My last word on White Privilege

Damn, this thing just won’t die, for me. Keeps coming back. Another posting here.

The resistance, then, to the idea of “white privilege” comes from a number of sources in white culture. It sounds like an accusation of racism, and perhaps then we should be clear that being privileged is not the same as hatred or contempt for the unprivileged. White people’s privileges tend to follow the Categorical Imperative; we take these privileges because we believe the world would be better if everyone had and used these privileges. That’s not the same thing as prejudice.

I liked the description but it lead me to the thought of another possible comparison that may clear it up for us White folk that tend to shiver at the term and its (somewhat imaginary) connotations. Imagine White Privilege in North America being the same as North American Privilege compared to the rest of the world. Even with the poverty and poor economy, by being in North America we are basically privileged when compared to the world at large. We take for granted things that we were basically born into (or given the opportunity of).

Granted this take is really just emerged from some statistics that I recall seeing some time back and…thus this idea of mine

White Privilege in USA = North American Privilege in the world view. Maybe? I don’t know.

Does this make sense? I’m not trying to start anything here but I would appreciate the input from the more knowledgeable people out there. To me this seems like a reasonable analogy and it puts the concept of privilege into a context that allows for understanding of the concept without overtly bringing up race.

Perhaps by hitting that larger, more universal concept first we can gain an understanding of it on a more regional scale.

I hope I am on the right track here. I really don’t feel like getting anymore of the anger my way.

Cheers,

Jack
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3 thoughts on “My last word on White Privilege

  1. Jack,
    I appreciate that you seem genuinely willing to wrestle with this topic. I think you may enjoy NellaLou's post over on Enlightenment Ward if you haven't already seen it:
    http://enlightenmentward.wordpress.com/2009/07/29/how-privileged-are-you/

    The short answer is, yes, of course, part of growing up in (most of) North America makes you more privileged than someone who grew up in, say, Sudan.

    However, I'd like to suggest that phrases like "this thing won't die, for me" and "hitting that larger, more universal concept first" are an easy way to turn some folks off. Suggesting that we take the big picture view first and deal with race later suggests that race (and by extension the effects of racism felt by people of color) is a secondary issue. And for those who suffer the effects of discrimination, it is anything but a secondary issue. And that's sort of the heart of the problem, for a lot of folks. It's this idea of "we'll get to you, we'll fix the problem. Just not yet. Hold on. We're gonna deal with this other thing. Yeah, almost. Maybe tomorrow." And folks in marginalized communities respond by saying, "Dude. You've been saying that for five hundred years. Enough is enough."

    Metaphorically speaking, of course. But metaphors usually reflect reality.

    At any rate, speaking for myself here, while I agree that being in this little corner of the world (the U.S.) makes us way better off than folks in other parts of the world, regardless of gender-race-sexuality-etc., that doesn't change the fact that we've still got work to do, work — to paraphrase the Constitution — to make this a more perfect union. My two cents, anyway, which I gather you know.

    Thanks for the post.

  2. @djbuddha: I agree with your comment. I meant to say "This thing won't die, FOR ME". I am constantly working this concept through my head in order to grasp it fully. It shouldn't die as a conversation, not for a good long while. But I would like to stop talking about it for awhile.

    My suggestion to view privilege as a universal concept is meant to remove some of the knee-jerk, defensive reactions that many white folk exhibit at the onset of this topic. It is meant, not to belittle the topic of race, but instead to get the concept of privilege into the public lexicon and then apply it to race.

    My post is all about presentation and not about priority. The priority is definately race relations and discrimination in the USA but the presentation may be "concept first, then understanding, then application". That way maybe less banter over semantics and more on actually solving the problem.

    I hope that cleared it up.

    Thanks for the visit and stop by anytime.

    Cheers,

  3. Just to clarify what this blog is all about to me. I liken it to a mirror. I don't want to primp and clean myself up to look into it. I just want to see. I want to see the pimples, hairs and wrinkle. I want to see how others view me and how my views stand up.

    I don't consider these postings to be rough draft academic papers or finely crafted memos (I get enough of that at work and school). They are me talking/ranting/chatting. This is what I sound like. Usually loud, confused and bewildered. Sometimes with a little spittle and very little polish.

    Big difference is when I see a discrepancy, or one is pointed out to me, I want to work it out.

    I give myself 15-30 minutes per blog post. That is the result.

    Take that Sean! Finish my thesis indeed.

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