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View Diary: A Reflection on Racism and White Privilege or My Experience at the Safeway Store (103 comments)

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  •  What does privilege have to do with... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wlkx, heybuddy

    fundamental human rights? How is a white person "privileged" to experience less racism.discrimination than a non-white person?

    This is an argument I've had, and been dumped on fairly heavily for asking the question, a few times on this board. I generally try to avoid flaming, and don't really want to start a big flame war here. However I had an interesting exchange a few days ago and after being "educated" on the issue once again I thought about it a bit more.

    The vast majority of white people are certainly NOT privileged, and it's condescending to suggest they are. Honestly I've always thought that was the point of saying it, to poke a stick in the eye of whitey. But while it's true that the vast majority of wealthy, powerful folks in the United States are indeed white... they represent only a very small percentage of actual white people. They are the 1%, after all. Everyone else has to work for their shit, and even then a little bad luck can derail the plans of even the whitest among us.

    But of course being white is better than being non-white, as far as opportunity goes. This is because minorities are disadvantaged. Pretty much everyone understands that, and most people in this country (outside of the rural south at least) agree that that's a bad thing and that people who dump on minorities are bad people. But where you lose the plot is in saying that the fact that whites experience less racism - it's absurd to suggest that white;s are immune to be discriminated against or targeted with hate crime, try telling that to a white male who grew up in an ethnically mixed neighborhood - is somehow a mark of privilege.

    Mitt Romney is privileged. He was born on third base. It's not a fundamental human right to be born into an absurdly wealthy family. But freedom from discrimination, access to a decent education, economic opportunity equal protection under the law and political enfranchisement ARE fundamental human rights. While it is a good thing to point out the extent that certain ethnic groups are disproportionately denied these rights, talking about those who are not as "privileged" is merely an effort to stir up class resentment, which is what white privilege theory is really all about. It takes an unpopular ideal, Marxism, and then attempts to dress it up as something popular, civil rights.

    This is why I dissent. Not so much to start a big fight, but because your basic premise is correct. There is still a great deal of ignorance and bigotry in the US, especially on the hard right. That is something which there is a broad consensus for fighting, even among conservatives, many of whom are tiring of the Tea Party crazies. They might listen to you're criticism of the Glenn Becks and the Sarah Palins, but when you start out telling them they're a bunch of privileged little brats who didn't earn their shit their pretty much gonna tune you out.  

    You can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

    by Eric Stratton on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 04:09:51 PM PDT

    •  Even if... (3+ / 0-)

      it is a fundamental human right if some have it and some don't it is a privilege.

      This makes about as much sense as Mike Huckabee on mescaline. - Prodigal 2-6-2008

      by Tonedevil on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 09:11:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I can't agree with this. (1+ / 0-)
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      Tonedevil
      The vast majority of white people are certainly NOT privileged, and it's condescending to suggest they are.
      In comparison to people of color in their financial/social class, yes, they are.  And it's false to insist they're not.

      I mean sure, nobody wants to hear "It could be worse -- you could be suffering from grinding poverty, poor education, substandard housing options, insufficient health care, exploitative employers and/or unemployment, and constant counter-preferment because of your skin color," but that doesn't make it any less true.

      •  It doesn't really make you privileged though (0+ / 0-)

        No one would call a person who lost both of their legs in a car accident privileged because someone else lost both of their legs and several fingers on their hand as well. This is where these debates start to break down. You're never going to get far in trying to combat discrimination by telling people who lack jobs, healthcare, who are in foreclosure, who suffered child sexual abuse and are scarred for life by telling them that they are "privileged" with condescension.

        •  True; condescension never gets anyone anywhere. (1+ / 0-)
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          Dr Swig Mcjigger

          Discussing issues of privilege doesn't have to come with condescension, and indeed shouldn't.

          (I'm not sure how child sexual abuse got into this conversation.  That's a thing that can happen to anyone at any level of society, including the most unequivocally privileged.)

          •  my point (0+ / 0-)

            was that a myriad of bad things happens to people too many here want to blithely call "privileged." I know such a person in that circumstance. She's white, but came from a poor background, got a poor education, suffered sexual and physical non sexual abuse. You'll never get her on  your side by saying she has lived a "privileged" life.

            •  There is an enormous difference (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil

              between being underprivileged by demographic circumstance and having suffered specific, individual misfortune.

              By your argument, a straight white male from a background of wealth and luxury and political influence can be considered non-privileged if enough bad things have happened to him.

              •  That's not my argument at all (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Batya the Toon

                My argument is that the term privileged is throw around too loosely here in these discussions. And many, if not most,  poor whites are that way due to demographics as well, rather than individual misfortune. These discussions overlook this.

                By your argument, a straight white male from a background of wealth and luxury and political influence can be considered non-privileged if enough bad things have happened to hi
                m.
                It's not my argument nor a logical extension to it. That said, that is proof that there are other things can that can work to counteract privilege.
                •  Oh, absolutely -- many poor whites (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Dr Swig Mcjigger, Tonedevil

                  are underprivileged by way of demographic circumstance, especially those who live in rural areas.

                  This is where I really should pause long enough to look up a better explanation of "intersectionality of privilege" than I can give.  Short form: it is perfectly possible to be part of a privileged demographic, and to benefit from that privilege, while simultaneously being part of a disadvantaged demographic and suffering thereby.

                  It can be hard to explain and harder to accept.  That doesn't make it false.

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