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White Privilege

This was a post I wrote on Facebook after surprisingly not seeing any moaning about the Documentary by Jose Antonio Vargas, titled White People

Dayyum! I just scrolled my timeline and not a single white person got their feelings hurt by White People. I unfortunately haven't seen it, but the number of fake accounts that popped up on twitter, tells me it was a damn good show.

Here's the thing. If someone of color aka non-white says "White Privilege," are you offended? If you said yes, then you are exhibiting white privilege. It has nothing to do with how hard you work or study, how you stayed out of trouble, because here's the thing, that is entirely the point. Somewhere out there, there are 100 Black, Spanish, Native American, Arab, Asian, who worked and studied as hard as you and never got in trouble, but they don't have what you "earned" or achieved. Stop looking at the one person you know who isn't white that achieved as your benchmark. Look at every one you do know and how they fare compared to others. If all you know are successful people of different colors, then guess what "that's white privilege too."

Have you ever been followed by security, because you're white? Have you ever had someone cross the street, because of your skin color? Have you ever has someone assume, you can play a sport, cook something or excel at a certain subject, because of your appearance? That is white privilege.

Take a long hard look at the demographics of this country over the last 250 years. Now take a good hard look at the political leaders who "represent" them. That my friends, is White Privilege.

Think of your news and who brings it to you, regardless of political affiliation. How white is that? Do you know that whites commit almost 68% of all crimes in the US and 62% of all violent crimes? They also represent 62% of the population. Isn't it odd that despite the amount of crime being proportionate to the population, our news doesn't show this? That is white privilege. When you take into account that white, on average make 12x the amount of money that blacks make, doesn't it seem like that there is some privilege. Inheritance, social status and general family legacies also are examples of white privilege.

Like I said, I'm happy that I scrolled down my time line and didn't see a single complaint. I expected to see a ton of it, but maybe all my ranting and raving and that of a few others are making people realize, it's not about you and your specific situation. It's not about hard work or study. It's about playing the hand your dealt, but having all the cards at your disposal. I can't make it any more simple than this...

Would you trade places with a person of color, because of the benefits in achieving equality, in terms of wealth, opportunity and representation?

Comments

  1. What is the point of this though. People are born the way they are born and cannot control how the world was when they came into it. Tall people also have certain privileges, as do good-looking people. But then again there are privileges that come with being short, or ugly, or black. It's all relative. But I think constantly pointing out a privilege one group has based on the fact that they are the majority in a country is pointless and basically just a way of saying "it's not fair" OK fine, life's not fair - but what do you want to do about it - just have people admit "I am privileged" OK fine - now what? This is what Oprah meant when she said this movement lacks leadership and direction. It's basically all about calling out people for being born a certain way and having privileges because of it ....so you're upset about it? So what next, what is the solution? I don't hear anyone talking about that. Ya know what I'm saying?

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    1. I think the point is, for you and I to say life isn't fair, isn't the same thing as for someone who is followed in a store, stopped for driving in the wrong town, assumed to have come from a single parent home....and assumed that it is a negative. To me it's as simple as an argument and I'm going through this now. If one person is wrong, but not in one instance, but inherently wrong and they refuse to acknowledge it, based on "well I always got away with it," then how do I proceed?

      I'm literally at a point now where someone else's entire life of being coddled and catered to is their reason for not accepting blame for a simply mistake. They know the mistake, they know why it bothers me, but in their entire life....much longer than mine, they've never been asked to apologize, so they don't even know how. They've said 'I'm sorry YOU took it that way" or "I'm sorry YOU didn't understand how I told you," but they can't even must "I"m sorry for what I'VE done." To me this is the same thing. Once we accept the privilege it's easier for those who don't have it to see that we're not the problem.

      As we've talked previously. None of my black and Spanish friends as kids saw me as privileged, because we all lived in the same neighborhood, but their parents knew it, because it was a matter of opportunity growing up in the 40's 50's and especially 60's

      As for the direction, we both agree on that one and guys like our buddy aren't the answer.

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  2. My point is everyone is born into certain circumstances. Everyone has different opportunities and most people don't take advantage of what is available to them.

    I had an old professor who told us in the 1960's if you walked into an office building in Manhattan, you would only see white men. Maybe a few female secretaries, if you saw an immigrant (including white immigrants) or a person of color they were the elevator operator or the janitor. Things have definitely improved greatly since then. I don't know the last time you were in an office building in NYC but you see a wide variety of people in high paying jobs. This is what affirmative action was meant to do - to balance things out and give people who didn't have the "white privilege" a leg up. In addition, most companies these days have a diversity quota and they are very serious about it. The problem is, sometimes there still aren't enough candidates to fill those positions so they take someone who isn't qualified and they are set up to fail and this includes women too.

    With that said, with every generation it will get better (or should). For instance, my college is probably about 95% non-white. But what is really interesting is that the female to male ratio is quite enormous – Many of my classes are even 100% female. These are young women taking advantage of free college (from low income families). Not sure what the national averages are but it's interesting – but where are the young men going to college? Not at my school.

    There is a cultural problem (even in college level) that says if you are smart you are not only a nerd but you are trying to be white - which is counter productive, obviously. Also if you speak or act in a professionally manner.

    Then there is self-segregation. Back in the day when a black family moved into a white neighborhood, the whites were not happy about it. Now, after decades of liberalism there are a lot of white liberals who are not afraid of black people (Just FYI, people don't cross the street anymore when they see a black person - dude, that is so 80's). So nowadays these white liberals are moving into formerly black neighborhoods like Harlem and Bed Sty. Guess what, the black people aren't happy about it. Turns out, they don't want to live with white people. I recently saw a post by a young black woman who lives in Manhattan - she went to Bed Sty for the day and wrote how she thinks she wants to move there so she can live among her people. So she wants to leave the diversity of Manhattan for a black neighborhood in Brooklyn, because she feels more comfortable there. Is there anything wrong with that? If a white person said they wanted to move into a white neighborhood to get away from the diversity of their current neighborhood it might come off as a bit racist, but is it? or are people just more comfortable living with who they grew up with? There is a whole documentary about this subject called "Whiteopia" by the way.

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  3. At a certain point you have to take what you were given in life and do the best with it. Pretty people obviously have things far easier than ugly people - should we scream about Pretty Privilege? No. Cuz we realize that they were born that way and those are the breaks, they got lucky. But we might be jealous of them, perhaps resentful. There's not quota that I know of where companies have to hire ugly people. And I’ve known of quite a few pretty girls who didn’t do their jobs well but were kept cuz they were cute.

    So you want every American white person to sign an affidavit saying "I acknowledge white privilege"? I mean, it's not going to happen, so let's stop wasting everyone's time and come up with actual solutions.

    In addition, here is why blue collar white people get defensive and annoyed when you say white privilege to them. Because there is an insinuation that goes along with that phrase - which is that without such privilege they would not be as successful as they are. But if you look back at immigrants in the early 1900’s there wasn’t too much privilege for them. So some of these people toiled in factories and built businesses from nothing living in horrible conditions, scraping together what they could. Maybe they worked extra long so their kids could go to school. Maybe the kid spent 5 hours a day studying. Now after 70 years, the family is successful and doing well and you can see how they might take issue with your nit-picking.

    Now you might counter that a black person doing the same thing would not be as successful, which may be true but is that the fault of the white kid whose grandparents came over from Russia 70 years ago? No.
    For comparison, let's say a black person from a poor neighborhood,let’s say the slums of the Bronx in the 1970’s becomes very successful, but he took advantage of affirmative action. However, he also worked his butt off. He too worked 2 jobs in college, got all A's, and worked for everything else he has, but then some Right Wing Republican comes around and says "Yea, but you had affirmative action and that's why you got into that good school" Oh an you only got that job because of the diversity quota. I think that person would be pretty pissed off and rightly so. Did he perhaps have a helping hand? Maybe, but does that mean he had everything handed to him? No. Just because you have "privilege" of some sort of the other doesn't meant you didn't work hard and there are lots of people who throw what privileges they were given or born with out the window.

    There are definitely some people in this country (mostly white people) who have a much greater privilege than most but it comes from money and inherited wealth. Parents who have so much money, they put their kids in fancy schools that ensure they will get into a fancy college, internships with their parents' clients, a network of contacts given to them, six figure jobs waiting for them when they get out of school, no student debt, not to mention a trust fund and the real estate! oh the real estate! So yes, it is there, but to lump in every single white person in with that is silly and juvenile, IMO. But that basically describes Twitter!

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  4. What we really need to discuss rather than throwing around hashtags, is income inequality, emphasis on education, getting rid of gun culture and drugs. People sometimes look to the Asian community as an example - they don't have white privilege, don't come from English speaking countries, but they, as whole have surpassed white people in income, education, etc. and so on in the past couple of decades. Mainly because there is a very heavy focus in their community on education and hard work. They also solve try to solve any problems within the community themselves. You have a family member who is mentally unstable? Someone takes care of them. When was the last time you saw a homeless Asian person? It's not because "they're smarter" they're no smarter than anyone else - they work their butts off because that is what their culture values - higher education, hard work, success.

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    1. Now here's the issue most would take with your argument. You argument, in and of itself, is white privilege. It's the entire mindset of saying "there are people who have this and that......BUT. The BUT, is white privilege. The argument isn't all things being equal and the argument isn't about hard work, opportunity and results, it's of treatment. We can take two people of different colors with the same everything. Same exact upbringing, the same education, the same wealth status, the same class status based on their parents...we can even put them in the same houses and make them brothers. No matter what they do, no matter how they dress, no matter what, they will be treated differently their entire lives. Now, can we say that it's silly to say that "all things being equal," yes we can, because it's a facade created by, you guessed it, white privilege.

      White people get so caught up on education, wealth and jobs, that they bury that guilt that they can walk into Tiffany's and have people grabbing them and seating them and getting that a drink, but that doesn't happen to black people....anywhere, unless they are celebrities.

      The Brooklyn neighborhoods is another argument that is a little biased. There's a huge reason for the resentment and that is property value causes taxes to go up. It causes pressure on home upkeep. My parents had to do a lot of work on their house and they couldn't afford it, so they sold. It wasn't a big deal at the time, because they made out like bandits, but when you have 30 newly renovated homes on your street and everything is manicured, your value suffers. There is also that underlying pressure to get you out. Also, how do you think all these people who used to walk down to a bodega with $20 and eat for a week feel now when the only thing around is gourmet grilled cheese and coffee shops? That isn't who they are. Even Harlem is suffering a bit by the exact same people who are keeping the roots there.

      The problem is it's not one item and you can't discount each item separately, because that isn't how life works for large groups of people. It will take hundreds of years if education is tackled, then jobs, then crime, then whatever else you want to throw out. There will also always be the memory of slavery, the memory of the civil rights movement and other harsh realities.

      I remember a long time ago, there was an argument about the number of black coaches in football and everyone went crazy and some black player pointed out that there were the same percentage of black coaches as their were black people in the US. Everyone turned on him, but he was right. Now unfortunately, the diversity stopped and there were no GMs, presidents or owners at the time. But that is the big issue with NYPD. More than half the NYPD is whites, with many second and third generation cops, while the demographic for NY is vastly different. There in lies the problem with that one single aspect of white privilege (and the idea that it's because they take the test is ludicrous).

      I'm not arguing that your individual points make sense, but it's not what white privilege is. It's simply being white affords you a treatment, regardless of any other factors, that being black doesn't. There's no way to deny that it doesn't and to make excuses or explain it, is our problem as white people.

      What I do take offense to, is when I admit it, agree with it and say it needs to be changed and I'm told that my opinion doesn't count because I'm white. Then it's not that all Black Lives Matter, it's that they matter more to that person and that is exactly the inequality they are fighting.

      Damn it Gina, get back on Twitter!

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  5. For the love of muppet - I understand what you're saying and what "white privilege" is - I'm just saying that saying it over and over makes no difference. What you see on twitter is people saying they want whites to "own up to it". Like i said, do you want every white person in America so sign something? If so, what then? It wouldn't change anything. So yes, there is white privilege, there is also male privilege, etc. But yelling about it on Twitter isn't doing anyone any good. In fact, if someone has 7 hours a day to be on Twitter, I'd say they're pretty privileged compared to the rest of the world. But, they are comparing themselves only to white Americans and the very white people who are the most privileged don't really give a damn (for the most part) and are too busy booking their next vacation or yelling at their nannies. The white people who do give a damn and try to have a conversation are told, "We don't need your white tears!" or "Get out of my mentions!" or "I don't care if you marched with MLK, what have you done for me lately!" It's completely ridiculous, juvenile and will turn most people off, as it has, and send the entire "movement" into oblivion sooner or later. Instead, we should focus on real issues individually and eventually people will have to "move on" from the past - that doesn't mean forgetting it happened but not letting it control your entire life. And instead of blaming everything on white privilege, look at individual problems like mass incarceration of black males (which is what keeps them out of the police force) and drug laws, gun laws, and other things that effect people in poor communities and basically ruin their chances (or make it much harder) for them to succeed. Not to mention jobs for teenagers. Back in the day the jobs that illegal immigrants have now (like stock boy in grocery store, dishwashers etc) were held by teenagers in the neighborhood. Some kids even worked at factories after school or in the summer to make some dough. Now there just aren't as many of those jobs around and the kids want money so ... drug runner, look-out, etc. and so on looks like an easy way to make cash.

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  6. And per the housing problems, that's effecting white families too. Nobody can afford to live in the city anymore unless they're rich. I've read about a ton of Brooklynites (long time, white peeps) who had to move because they can't keep up. We need rent-control back and we need all the hipsters to take a hike and go back where they came from. If people can't afford to buy in Midtown, they'll go wherever they can - so if may be Brooklyn or Harlem - still close to work but perhaps a little bit more affordable. But after awhile, the entire city is filled with hipsters, banks, cell phone stores, starbucks. I think what we need is an anti-hipster law. Build a wall around NYC and kick out anyone who wasn't born here. I should run for mayor. Haha.

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    1. I'm all for the anti-hipster law. I'm seeing it everywhere and what causes it? White privilege. Seriously, if I'm running business, I personally don't want some tatted up, bearded guy with a shit attitude and a guitar working at my business. I'd much rather have someone who seems like they care about whatever thye are doing. Last time I was in a Starbucks, I asked the guy behind the counter if I was bothering him. He sighed. I said, "Listen kid, I'm not threatening you, but you're in the service business,. In the 80's, you'd be dragged outside and have the living shit beaten out of you,....by housewives, not thugs. Smile." I kid you not, I won't step foot in a coffee shop. Ithaca is nothing but coffee shops and restaurants with art exhibits, it's disgusting, because you walk outside and there are people begging on the street and there are hard working people making $11 an hour, while these coffee shop fucks make $15-20 and get a share of the business in some cases. It's forces prices up for no good reason. If they hired three people at $10 an hour who cared, instead of two for $15, I might go into these places and pay $4 for some african coffee bean that was eaten and shit out by an orangutan.

      Anyway, back to your first comment. I get the job thing and honestly, the revolution started in the late 80s when nearly everyone was working off the books, because taxes were destroying the middle class. it's 100x worse now.

      What they need is some rich bastards to come in and buy all the land and make it low income housing or rent controlled and give these guys huge tax breaks...enormous. And use local businesses, not union (sorry, I'm pro union, but too much money goes to corrupt delegates. If they need laborers, hire local kids.

      As for the white privilege, it's as real as any other problem and the whole flag controversy is proof it is hindering other white people's acceptance in the black community. It bothers me that we're told "stay out of my mentions" because of bigots.

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  7. I agree with everything but the white privilege also applies to Asians, which is ironic since they are now complaining that affirmative action is holding them back and is not fair, just as whites first complained back when it was first put into action. So really it is not so much white privilege as it is continued prevalence of stereotyping among black and non-Asian brown people. Hence, I win the debate!

    The real problem stems from economics. There is not reason in this country to have so many poor people other than greed. There should be a solid middle class but that's deteriorating quickly to the point where it's the very rich/privileged class and everyone else is struggling or have given up and not just people of color.

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