Ok, so I have been hearing and reading about campuses nationwide trying to call attention to white privilege. Being the curious sort I started looking for people’s explanations as to the meaning and/or definition of “white privilege”.
One of the most frequent things I have read is that blacks are suspected of being bad or criminal simply because of their skin color. This is not true at all. Humans tend to judge people based on how they are dressed and how they present themselves. Dr. King knew this and used it well. If people would step beyond the chip on their shoulder they would realize that store security never follows the African American businessman in the nice well fitting suit standing up straight and politely saying hello to people, they also never follow the black woman or man in scrubs or a nurse’s uniform, I could go on naming examples but I think you get the idea. I would like to add that plenty of Caucasians with backpacks or droopy pants or big jackets or suspicious strollers or unusually big bags are followed every day…they just don’t brag about it. When I meet a group of guys on the street, I judge them on their demeanor. Are they horsing around? Do they stop when they see me (an older woman) if they do it does not matter what race they are, I smile and say hello (while thinking, nice boys their mothers brought them up right).
I also read about income disparity. I know this is real. A little research shows that African American students have historically trended towards majoring in the social sciences, teaching, social work, non-profits and etc. This shows a more than admirable desire to make a difference and to help improve their communities and their nation. The downside is that these are not high paying jobs and although they are probably greatly benefiting the community they are not earning what they are probably worth. There are not enough African Americans majoring in the stem areas which do result in higher paying jobs. We would welcome more black lawyers (I know some very good ones that I have recommended), more black doctors, more black nurses, scientists, engineers, computer programmers, and so forth. The scholarships are there, some are only available to African Americans or minorities.
There is the nebulous claim that whites have numerous unintended hidden benefits which accrue to them because they are the race holding the power in this country. I will never apologize for our Constitution. I will never endorse a false statement about the Constitution. The Constitution covers immigration as a matter of authority, immigration is not an important part of our founding document. The founding fathers put their lives on the line by signing the Declaration, by fighting in the revolution and so did our African American brothers and sisters. Their long and distinguished history filled with heroes and heroines has been dropped out of most schools. This is part of the problem we have today with the division between the races, it is the ignorance of our shared history and how very intertwined it really is. But, to the issue at hand, my belief is that, after all, it is our country. If you are comming as an immigrant to have a voice to change it or to elevate your culture to equal what was established at the founding, I am sorry. No sympathy. However, Blacks and Whites have fought together and lived together and depended on one another from the beginning. I do not believe in white privilege, there have been too many years of affirmative action. I do think there are socio-economic classes in this country. I can name more than a few African Americans in positions of power national, state and local. Our last president was Black. If you still think that white privilege is real, look up “white trash”, “hill-Billy” or go to the NCCP website where you will discover that fully 1/3 of all children in poverty are white, non-Hispanic.
I keep thinking that some of the biggest differences between the way I was raised (or the way I raised my daughter) and the way these kids look at the world is part of the problem. I was taught that the world owes you nothing, you have to go out and earn your way. I never ever heard that I was a victim or that the government owed me anything, in fact neither did anyone else. I was taught that life is fundamentally unfair. Life is going to happen and more often than not you will reap the consequences of your own decisions to study and make good grades or not, to dress to impress the people who can pay you a good salary or not, to be a good person who makes the right connections or not. Your choices start young. I was taught to stop and think, if uncertain, get more information. I was taught to never follow blindly anyone, any organization, any group, any church or any party. I have said it over and over again even though no one hears me, “you have a brain, use it!” It has never been a sin to question and those who speak truth do not fear it. I was taught to keep an open mind. If a person is not threatening you with a weapon, the proper procedure is to state your opinion and then be quiet while he responds. After he finishes he should then be quiet while you respond. This dialogue should proceed in a civil manner, at the end of which both parties should walk away better informed and with additional food for thought.
I know it isn’t about the loss of free speech after watching all of the post election protests and riots. I know it isn’t about lack of opportunity since diversity is a positive goal that most corporations strive for diligently. Regardless of how you unpack the knapsack I do not see “white privilege” lurking around in America. I could not cover everything, but I still even see examples of reverse discrimination on a regular basis.
So, let’s leave the Sociologists to their ivory towers and academic papers. We live in the real world and as such should employ common sense, powers of observation, research and critical thinking to reach a rational and realistic conclusion about this claim.