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Explaining White Privelege to the Deniers & Haters

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Jennifer
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A person I know emailed me this article and I would like to discuss it as well as have an Objectivist analysis of the argument presented within.

http://redroom.com/member/tim-wise/blog/explaining-white-privilege-to-the-deniers-and-the-haters

This is something I am constantly hearing about these days, this concept of "white privelege", and whenever I hear it, even though I am not well versed in this point of view or its argument, it makes me EXTREMELY uncomfortable almost instantly within that conversation or that environment I am currently in (partially because I am white, I suspect) and because it seems to be an attempted guilt trip over something of which I am not in any way at fault for. Privelege, to me, is one of those words that seems to be heavily abused these days, especially by the Left.

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Yes, there are examples of racism and every person, black or white should feel uncomfortable and even enraged when he/she witnesses it. However, today state implements inversed racism, black privilege in the form of affirmative action. Such racism, supported by the full might of state is much more dangerous than personal prejudices to which most of examples of white privilege pertains.

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I find it objectionable too and the problem is quite clear in my eyes. Objectivists, and many other people besides, believe in the principle of equality between men - that is, everyone should have the same rights and you should treat people as individuals regardless of their ethnicity/whatever. When you mention the idea of privilege, it's basically saying you (as a white person in this case) are opting in to a system of inequality. In the same way that when you join a golf club, you are knowingly gaining access to privileges open only to club members, and you agree with the system that perpetuates that (i.e. you're paying fees, or whatever membership requires).

But the thing is, although ethnic minorities may be the victims of racism, even very pervasive racism, that does not mean you as a white person have 'opted in' to some sort of system that perpetuates your 'privilege' (the privilege of not being discriminated against). It's not a 'privilege' to not suffer from discrimination. Enjoying a privilege at the expense of other people is something you should feel guilty about, but it's not what's happening here.

I have no respect for racist beliefs, period. But framing the issue in terms of 'privilege' rather than in terms of discrimination is a borderline infuriating habit of sociologists.

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I have no problem with the word "privilege" being used. I don't think it implies that anyone has bought into such a system. It is simply an accurate way to describe the state of things as they are. The view that state racism is more pervasive and powerful than private racism describes a different reality in my opinion.

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The view that state racism is more pervasive and powerful than private racism describes a different reality in my opinion.

Private racism, when not coupled with force, has no power whatsoever. None. All you have to do to not have it affect you is ignore it.

Government racism cannot be ignored because the government uses force to back it up.

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There is no systematic racism. I suggest reading about Symbolic Interactionism. It is a school of sociology that focuses on how symbols of all kinds are developed, and it is a good framework for understanding racial prejudice.

Most groups get it hard when they first arrive as immigrants in mass. The Irish, Italians, Eastern Europeans, are just small ("white") examples of how groups of people can be hated and terrorized by a society afraid of new cultures and groups of people. This marginalization may even cause the famous gang activity by these groups. Eventually though assimilation did happen and now being irish involves drinking a green beverage and whearing a silly shirt.

If you look at the success of other minority groups such as a certain groups of east Asians, you can see how their success as a people is even exagerated in the media. There really isn't much white privlidge there considering my university campus seems to have more east asians that I thought lived in my whole state.

The real issue is blacks. Mexicans will be treated normally in like twenty years just like every immigrant group in history has, but blacks still might be getting the short end of the stick from society because the stereotypes surrounding blacks are often confirmed by media portrayal and general experience.

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What do you think it means then?

I think "It is simply an accurate way to describe the state of things as they are." ie There is no part of the definition of privilege to say that one buys into a system of white privilege. Just as if one calls a current system "communist", doesn't mean that you agree that communism is right. It's simply a description of how you perceive reality to be without any attached value judgement.

Private racism, when not coupled with force, has no power whatsoever. None. All you have to do to not have it affect you is ignore it.

Government racism cannot be ignored because the government uses force to back it up.

If a majority of participants in private markets are racist against your race, this affects you if you want to participate in the market. You can choose to ignore it, but that doesn't change the reality of the situation.

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I think "It is simply an accurate way to describe the state of things as they are."

My question was: "What do you think privilege means?". How does it come about, without anyone buying into it?

If a majority of participants in private markets are racist against your race, this affects you if you want to participate in the market. You can choose to ignore it, but that doesn't change the reality of the situation.

Before, you used the word "powerful". Do you consider the terms "to have power over" and "affect" synonymous? I don't. Power means the ability to force someone to do something, not the ability to affect them in general.

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A better word would be white "advantage" as it is more matter of fact, though we are arguing over semantics. Privilege does suggest that the it is something you opted into, but you didn't opt into a racially divisive society.

I don't agree with the golf club comparison as there is no real privilege in that situation. If you buy a membership, there are no privileges, that is what you bought and you deserve it. It is what you earned for paying fees.

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A better word would be white "advantage" as it is more matter of fact, though we are arguing over semantics.

Doesn't change anything. You still have to stop relying on the floating abstraction called "society" this theory is built on, and point to the actual people who are acting as racists, describe the way they are acting as racists, the error in their thinking, etc.

Are government agencies, political parties, business leaders, universities, churches and NGOs actively excluding qualified black people from their ranks? By what means exactly?

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Doesn't change anything. You still have to stop relying on the floating abstraction called "society" this theory is built on, and point to the actual people who are acting as racists, describe the way they are acting as racists, the error in their thinking, etc.

Are government agencies, political parties, business leaders, universities, churches and NGOs actively excluding qualified black people from their ranks? By what means exactly?

I am not arguing in support of this theory, I was addressing the semantics issue. I agree with you in that government racism is worse than private racism. In addition to them using force, the government has made racism much worse by its policies. It started out with the slave laws, the jim crow laws, the segregation laws and then flipped around and had the affirmative action policies, giving grants to students if they are a certain race, etc. And all this has done is create more anger between the two groups.

As for the white "advantage," I think it is pointless because there are advantages in many situations by people that don't support the concept of the individual. There are italian advantages, black advantages, blond hair advantages, etc. so I think to attach this white advantage or privilege to every white person is sort of frivilous and stupid. Talking about race is sort of frivilous and stupid in general.

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