Diversity, Education, Privilege, Recommended

What Does Teaching ‘White Privilege’ Actually Accomplish? Not What You Might Think (Or Hope)

I recently attended a Washington-D.C. event focused on community-building hosted by The Aspen Institute’s Weave project, which works to reduce social isolation and build bonds between Americans. During one portion of the event, various activists described how racism had impacted their lives and their communities. Following a number of such testimonials, a white woman from southeast Ohio named Sarah Adkins spoke about her own community work, which involves raising money to provide post-trauma support to individuals affected by tragedies.

Perhaps because several speakers had discussed racism and issues related to white privilege, Adkins spoke about her own self-perceived racial privilege. “I followed the perfect mold…I did all the things, I went to college, and I keep thinking of white privilege in my head so forgive me, that’s what’s in my head right now, very much white privilege,” she said, while reflecting on her middle class life in an affluent neighborhood.

But Adkins also went on to describe the reason she originally had become involved in community work—which is that her then-husband had killed both of her sons and then later took his own life. One can only imagine how much suffering this caused her. Yet she still viewed herself as privileged due to her race.

“I was wealthy, okay, I was a pharmacist, I made a lot of money, right? So after that happened, I really wanted to understand that for me there definitely was a lot of white privilege. I had money, I had health insurance, so people came in and cleaned up my house. I was able to pay for a funeral for my children,” she said.

I wondered how someone who’d lived through such an awful tragedy could consider themselves to be in any way “privileged.” Yes, she had the funding to clean up her home and bury her relatives. But nearly everybody has at least some advantages in life. It feels perverse for someone who has suffered so much to be confessing their perceived advantages.

When activists and academics invoke the phrase “white privilege,” they typically are speaking of advantages that whites, on average, have over members of other ethnic minority groups in our society. And there is no doubt that racial inequality is both real and persistent in the United States, where I live, and elsewhere. There is a sizable racial wealth gap, a life expectancy gap, and an incarceration gap. Many of America’s most pressing social problems disproportionately harm people from minority groups.

But there is a danger that, by talking about this inequality as an all-consuming phenomenon, we will end up creating a flattened and unfair image that portrays all whites in all situations and all contexts as benefiting from unearned advantages. Indeed, it’s possible that we will cause people to confuse a structural inequality that exists on the level of group average with the circumstances of every individual within a particular racial group.

In the case of Adkins’s tragic story, it’s not even clear that being white in any way constituted a form of privilege. Recent research has found a huge surge in white working-class suicides. In 2017, whites in the United States had a suicide rate of 17.8 per 100,000; for Hispanics, that rate was 6.9; for African-Americans, it was 6.9. The only group with a higher suicide rate than whites was Native Americans, at 22.2.

The phenomenon of suicide is not perfectly understood, but it is generally believed that loneliness and alienation are driving factors. Whites in America tend (on average) to be more culturally individualistic, while those from other groups tend (again, on average) to exhibit more collectivist social values. The group of which I am part, Asian-Americans, would be “privileged” on this index, since our rate (6.6) is well below that of whites. But would it really be wise for me to tackle the social problem of suicide by zooming in on some idea of “Asian privilege?”

In fact, research recently published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that such an approach wouldn’t just be unhelpful. It would actually be harmful.

I recently interviewed Erin Cooley, a psychology professor and lead researcher at Colgate University, about her research for Greater Good magazine. She studies prejudice and structural inequality and her research has illuminated the ways in which persistent racism continues to negatively impact the lives of racial minorities in America. A study she recently published, for instance, shows how participants were more likely to associate poverty with blacks as opposed to whites. Her team found that this association helps predict opposition toward policies that involve economic redistribution, since it is widely believed that these policies benefit blacks over whites.

Her team was curious about the impact of teaching people about white privilege. Would it make people more sympathetic toward poor blacks? As part of their research, Cooley and her colleagues offered study participants a reading on white privilege—based partly on the seminal work of Peggy McIntosh, who originally formulated the concept in the 1980s—and then described to them the plight of a hypothetical man, identified as either white or black, who is down on his luck.

What the researchers found is that among social liberals—i.e., participants who had indicated that they hold liberal beliefs about social issues—reading a text about white privilege did nothing to significantly increase their sympathy toward the plight of poor blacks. But, as Cooley told me, “it did significantly bump down their sympathy for a [hypothetical] poor white person.” (Among conservative participants, there was observed no significant change in attitudes at all.)

What accounts for this? One possibility is that social liberals are internalizing white-privilege lessons in a way that flattens the image of whites, portraying all of them as inherently privileged. So if a white person is poor, it must be his or her own fault. After all, they’ve had all sorts of advantages in life that others haven’t.

When we talk about racial inequality, it is important to understand that we’re often talking about structural or society-wide averages, not the status of all individuals at all times. It is true, for instance, that African Americans are disproportionately impacted by poverty. That means a higher percentage of African Americans live in poverty as compared to whites. But the largest number of individuals in the United States who live in poverty are white. We can’t, and we shouldn’t, assume anything about any individual’s life solely based on his or her race, or based on larger facts about racial inequality.

Racism exists, of course, and its impact is disproportionately felt by society’s minority populations. I have personally spent a decent chunk of my reporting career documenting this. But the fact that disparate treatment is inflicted on racial minorities doesn’t prove the existence of an all-encompassing pattern of white privilege. “If you’re white, chances are seeing a police officer fills you with one of two things: relief or gratitude,” writes one advocate of a privilege-centric worldview. But around half of the people who are killed every year by U.S. police officers are white. True, police violence falls disproportionately on ethnic minorities, especially African Americans. But if you’re white and you’ve been abused by a police officer, your individual experience may be just as painful as that of a black person who’s suffered similar abuse.

If we extend the logic of privilege beyond the issue of race, it’s easy to see the flaws with this approach. We know, for instance, that 93 percent of people in U.S. federal prisons are men. In nearly every part of the criminal justice system, in fact, men on average have it worse than women do. But does that then mean we should be discussing “female privilege”? Would it be beneficial to the men behind bars for women to proclaim awareness of their “privileged” status?

A typical conservative response to privilege discourse is to downplay the very real inequalities that exist. This isn’t helpful. We can’t escape talking about inequality in a diverse society. For instance, we shouldn’t shy away from looking at high maternal mortality rates among black women and how it may be linked to inadequate cultural competence among medical staff. However, what I would suggest is that we change the way we talk about this inequality. Asking whites to publicly confess their white privilege—in a manner that often resembles a religious ritual more than anything else—may lead us to unfairly flatten the experience of whites while, ironically, actually shifting attention away from those who are underprivileged. The Cooley study shows that this isn’t just a hypothetical concern; it’s a reality that has been demonstrated through research.

One alternative to white-privilege discourse would be to focus on the causes and consequences of deprivation rather than on naming groups of people we believe to hold special advantages—and to stop referring to things that we should expect for all people as “privileges.” It is not a privilege to have a decent and safe childbirth, or avoid harassment by the police, or to have enough to eat. All of those things should be something we expect. While we can and should aggressively address inequality, we should make sure the methods we employ serve to strengthen our sense of empathy rather than sap it.



Zaid Jilani, a journalist, is currently on fellowship, studying political and social polarization at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. He is also the co-host of the podcast Extremely Offline, which brings together guests from competing political tribes for civil dialogue. Follow him on Twitter @ZaidJilani.

Featured image: Photo taken at Baltimore Women’s March, 2018.



  1. EB says

    My large (and mostly white) family certainly does benefit on a theoretical level from being white. But it also contains many members who can’t find steady work in their tapped-out mining region, are in trouble with the criminal justice system and/or in prison, and have serious unaddressed health problems. Their family lives are a shambles. They do not face racial discrimination, but “privileged” would not be a term that made sense in describing them.

    • codadmin says

      Seems like they could make a case for facing racial discrimination, given their problems.

    • prince says

      The whole notion of “privilege” is a terrible view of the obvious natural phenomenon:

      All people are different at birth.

      We are all dealt a random set of cards at birth: smarts, beauty, voice, strength, sanity, coordination, stamina, charisma, wealth, location, siblings and skin color are just a few of almost an infinite set of attributes that are assigned to us at birth and we’ll all enjoy some of better ones, and suffer from our worst attributes.

      Some of us are dealt a collections of awesome cards. Others are unlucky getting a just few good ones. Regardless, all of the cards are random, and none of them is “earned”.

      Those who got a royal-flash at birth will likely do awesome in life. The less lucky ones will often struggle just to get by.

      It isn’t fair. It is just the way it is.

      We can’t change it. We can’t make the whole world identical twins.

      For the lucky ones, acknowledging these unearned privileges will not make the world better or fairer. To feel bad or apologize because one is smart, or handsome, has a nicer skin, or has a loving family makes no sense.

      All we can do is to make sure that the game isn’t rigged and all of us play by the same rules. We must play the cards we were dealt to the best of our abilities and make the most with them. And if we can afford it, we should try to be charitable to those who had the misfortune of having been dealt a bad hand.

      • Andrew Vanbarner says

        Birth advantages help tremendously. But life choices matter at least as much, or more.
        I know of people born in very humble, working class circumstances who put themselves through school and now make six figure incomes. Conversely, I’ve met people with trust funds, a decent level of intelligence, and attentive parents who have done very little with their lives, have little or no resources left, and eventually ended up at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.
        Yes, of course things like height, looks, intelligence, abilities, and financial circumstances can be tremendous advantages.
        Those advantages can also be squandered or utilized, depending on one’s individual choices.

        • Samuel says

          That this isn’t common sense today boggles my mind.

      • Rick Myers says

        This kind of common sense is rare, you should probably go into hiding for publicly expressing it

      • Jin Molnar says

        In Buddhist Asia (which is much, but not all, of Asia) they just use the word Karma, or Kamma, or Gaam, as its is pronounced in Thailand, to describe just about exactly what Prince so eloquently said above.

        And yet, as far as I can tell, Human Nature exists everywhere there are Humans, so negative emotions are subject to arise anywhere. But the two and half to umpteen millenia of belief, many would say knowing, of transmigration of the soul, or reincarnation, or inheritance of tendencies – dice it how you will – that has been THE bedrock foundation of all of the Vedic and Buddhist traditions, has allowed the arising and flourishing of manifold civilizations that take INEQUALITY OF BOTH OPPORTUNITY AND OUTCOME for granted.

        That said: There is no mandate to be cruel or insensitive towards those “born below” you (translated: unluckier) and there is also SIMULTANEOUSLY no invective to hold animonity or jealousy towards those “above” (again, luckier) than you. The fact that you are in human form is already better than many of the alternatives.

        I just wish that so many of the left-voting “operators”, if you will, who seem so willing to rig-up bizzare new rules in whatever municipality they may have leverage in, AND who also tend to pay pay lip-service to exotic, foreign ideas like “Buddhism” (which is so cool because you get to sit on a cushion and not do anything sometimes) would truly get the wide-angle picture.

        • Jin Molnar says

          I completely misused the word “invective”. “culturally enshrined imperative” is the appropriate phase. Thank you, Nancy for noticing the comment.

        • Max York says

          The great Thomas Sowell wrote a small (in size) masterpiece called Race and Culture which demonstrates racial hatreds worldwide, in which more productive and wealthy races are despised by less successful countrymen.

      • Nancy says

        Excellent perspective. I am Caucasian but grew up in the bottom 10% of the socioeconomic ladder. I experienced lack of food, care, love, attention, and had an excess of abuse (physical and emotional), everything that leads to extremely poor outcomes, and in fact only completed 3 semesters of high school. I now have a PhD in physical chemistry and a career that puts me in the top 10% on my income alone. I’ve been verbally assaulted by identitarians accusing me of “White Privilege”, at which point I’ve had to stop myself from physically assaulting these mealy mouthed accusers.

        Life is unfair. Full stop. All we can do is stop ourselves from treating others poorly, speak out against immoral and unethical behaviors (both individual and societal), and attempt to make the best decisions for ourselves given our circumstances.

      • Lewis Guignard says

        I asked my daughter what she thought about a woman using her looks to advance her career. She said that was fine as long as it was ok if she used her intelligence.
        These are both assets. Use what you have.

      • Francis Figliola says

        Exactly. No one, especially those who are today’s authors, liberal or not, aren’t old enough to appreciate how far we’ve come since WWII. Astounding changes for the good. Privilege is simply not a deficit for minorities. There are more whites than minorities suffering from “white privilege”!

      • Max York says

        Agreed. Of course the SJWs don’t want their victim “clients” to play by the same rules. They want us to play by the “victims'” rules.
        It so happens that I have zero athletic ability. Thus, I am a member of the victim group called “athletically challenged.” No matter that I have never tried to play basketball. “Athletic privilege” of more talented people made it impossible.
        Nonetheless, I should enjoy a standard of living enjoyed by Michael Jordan or LeBron James. So, somebody owes me reparations.
        LeBron James has stellar athletic ability.
        By SJW rules, I should have a spot on LeBron’s team. LeBron might have to be shoved to the sidelines so I can play.

      • Francisco says

        If, indeed, there is material “white privilege”, patterns of immigration to, and emigration from, the United States would look like this: white people from all over the world would be working furiously to get into the US, while non-white people would be leaving the country.

        Instead, there are tens of millions of non-white people looking to get into the US, and few non-whites in the US are rushing for the exits.

    • Heike says

      The white working class are largely (1) invisible. They simply don’t exist to the people who write these kinds of discourses. They don’t know them and don’t want to know them.

      They are also, whenever mentioned, (2) deplorable. The attitude is, “It’s not a debate, I don’t care who gets convinced, it’s about denigrating inferior people like them, and anyone who doesn’t like it should definitely go fuck themselves. I don’t need to be liked by you. I’m right, you’re a racist, and I win just by being inherently better and more valuable as a human than you.”

      The real problem is that the Left considers them The Other: http://archive.is/QRJ6m

    • Anonymous says

      @EB : My large (and mostly white) family certainly does NOT benefit on a theoretical level from being white.
      I guess we must be living on different planets.

    • Johnny Appleseed says

      People should watch Live PD on A&E. I challenge anyone to watch several episodes of that and come away with a conclusion other than that white suspects and black suspects are treated basically equally. Some cops treat suspects shittily and aggressively while others maintain almost inhuman restraint in the face of black and white criminals berating them and even spitting at them.

      Now no doubt blacks are disproportionately arrested but that only matters id theyre not disporportionately committing serious crimes, which ubforubtately the data pretty clearly shows that they are. When we look at on AVERAGE how cops treat white criminals versus black criminals I really don’t see much of a difference.

      The problem is massive confirmation bias because the media vastly overreports cases of suspected police misconduct against black Americans while simultaneously downplaying or ignoring police misconduct against whites.

    • rickburgoon says

      Im ok with this bantered about use of the word privilege but i detest how whites who are poor and on the loss side of life are included. And that leads to the word game…
      Is the NHL based on white privilege…
      Are the NFL and NBA based on black privilege…
      How about that black billionaire who is paying the tuition of every black graduate of an all black college…what privilege did he not have…and are these kids now more black than the kid who cant afford college from compton?
      Did Michelle obama…upper middle class…have black privilege…
      What of poor and abused bill clinton…what privilege did he have…
      Bottom line…we all have privileges to one extent ot another. But to lump all people together based on skin color alone and say You have privilege seems to most martin luther king adherents to focus exclusively on skin color which to millions of us is quintessential racism writ large.
      We should stop demanding skin color views and focus on economics.
      Why should the daughter of a black doctor and asian lawyer not be seen as definitionally privileged compared with a white woman from Kentucky with no father and a drug addled mother living in a trailer with no food.
      Its insanity modulated to dumb down intelligence guided by common sense.
      Worse…it will backfire because like the word nazi and the label racism they’ve lost their sting from overuse.
      Same with white privilege. Its tiresome pedantic and intellectually weak.

      • PJ says

        @rickb. Actually Moorehouse is not an “all black college”. Its predominantly black like Havard and most Ivy league schhols are predominantly white. I agree that the understanding of the word privilege is incorrect.

        • Rick Myers says

          Go to Harvard walk around and then tell me it is predominantly white,this not 1919

  2. codadmin says

    Police ‘violence’ only falls disproportionately on ethnic minorities if you include blacks in the figures.

    Asians, for example, are slightly less likely to be killed by police or stopped and searched than whites, and Hispanics slightly more.

    It’s only blacks, who commit vastly higher crime rates, proportionately speaking, than all other racial/ethnic groups, that drew the figures.

    For example, cops are disproportionately killed by blacks. Is that fact ever headline news?

    • Simon Johnson says

      What point are you attempting to make? And how does it refute or support any of the points made in the article?

      • jimhaz says

        It is to do with the ways our minds work. The two words crime and black each have millions upon millions of subconscious memories and if black folk commit more crime then there will be more links between these two words and this will result in differing racial generalisations.
        Generalisations are required for survival. Animals like us need to be able to react as fast as possible to dangers – dangers that often come from other groups in our species.

        This would change the way police react. If there are signs of danger where a fast reaction may be required, this would lead to more instances of a harsher reaction as a result of the much higher number of subconscious links. For those groups where crime, particularly crimes of violence are far less common, the mind will quickly realise danger is less likely and will give the frontal lobes more opportunity to asses the true nature of the situation.

        Racism steps in when the relationship between potential harm becomes overstated. We tend to talk in more serious terms about more serious matters. In groups with very little racial diversity chats between each other about racial crime will create new negative subconscious memories that exaggerate the dangers.

        Minority groups tend to stick together (we prefer the company of those most like us) so are not actually diverse, therefore the same sort of scenario is happening with the white privilege and supremacy exaggerations.

      • codadmin says

        @Simon Johnson

        The article says ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by police ‘violence’. I’m saying that’s not true. Blacks, yes, but not ethnic minorities as a whole.

        And the reason for that is disproportionate crime rates, not racism.

        • E. Olson says

          “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps… then turn around and see somebody white and feel relieved.” Jesse Jackson

      • James says

        If you’d actually read the article you wouldn’t need to ask such an obtuse question.

    • Rick Myers says

      A look at life in America in this day and age would lead to the conclusion that Asian privilege trumps White Privilege with Hispanic Privilege gaining rapidly

  3. Morgan Foster says

    Notice that the white pharmacist, participating in a talk about racism, wasn’t talking about racism?

    The conversation about racism gave her an opportunity to stand up and talk about something that happened to her, which had nothing to do with racism.

    This seems to be a common occurrence among white SJWs. They hijack the race issue to make the conversation about them, even if for only a few minutes.

    • Memetic Tribe says

      Regardless of leftist soap box, I felt very bad for her. She lost her kids…

  4. bumble bee says

    I had taken an intense 3 day racism workshop about 10yrs ago. Before all the labels came about, and before social media. At the workshop, I heard words like privilege, dipping, ways that people have experienced racism (it was a very diverse group). I did not feel that I, or any other white person, were being singled out for shaming, but that this was a workshop to understand racism from different experiences. It was an interesting three days.

    There were some aspects that I did not agree with wholly, such as the concept of dipping. However, again there were some good points. Today however, the manner in which the topic of racism is engaged in the US has taken some dubious turns that make the current racism narrative non-productive and in some cases outright hostile. It has gotten to the point with me anyways that I can find little to actually support.

    The reason that White Privilege has gotten accepted, is because it gives a structure to something that people can blame as a cause. It also nicely nests with victimhood as a direct cause as to why things are not going better. This is not to say that there is no systemic or widespread racism that needs to be addressed and changed, but by using white privilege as a reason, I feel that it is counter productive as well as having inherent resistance for people to address their own behaviors. Perhaps, WP is nothing more than a projection of one race upon another to explain the disparity that exists.

    What WP does in many cases is it puts either a person or group’s racist behavior and extend it to everyone. It does not matter what a person believes or how they act contrary to racist behaviors, but because someone is white they are guilty and will wear the WP label. Then of course unless you swallow the WP pill, and accept it, you are exercising your WP. There is no exception, as you have been labeled as such, and as such you will be.

    We have seen from the late 60’s the end of segregation, though the same discrimination lingered/lingers to this day. There is a great need to continue to challenge these hidden biases that are invisible to white people since it is not directed at us. Taking the current issue of police shootings resulting in the deaths of black citizens, made anyone aware of historical killings of black citizens by the police come back to haunt this country. At first I supported BLM, as they were right to speak up and get some truthful answers and hold the police accountable. Why however, did it morph into riots rather than a direct dialogue with police to change policy where nonthreatening dialogue between police and people to diffuse tense situations. I find it quite unsettling when mass shooters, like James Holmes, are taken alive and allowed to have a trial and a young boy playing is shot dead because someone mistook a toy for a gun.

    There is so much work to be done to ensure all citizens devoid of race have equal access to the fruits of this country. Where people are given a chance to succeed, live, do what makes them happy. There is a lack of together we stand equally against racism, and has morphed into a blame game that is alienating rather than uniting. MLK extended his hand to black and white people to free both from segregation, but today it has turned into an us v them. If I or anyone rested solely on WP to go through life, I or anyone would have nothing to show for it. We must help each other get where we want to go.

    • Peter from Oz says

      Bumble Bee
      That is a very good comment. I like your measured tone and ability to see both sides of the coin.
      Methinks that the biggest problem here is the remnant of racism rather than racism itself. It is almost like to pain that amputees have in their missing limbs.
      After all, without ”racism” how do people face up to their responibilities to look after themselves.
      Maybe the ”racism” that’s left is realy more ”culturalism” or even just a disgust at the politics of the left. When 90% of one race vote for the left, it is hardly suprising that those on the right are not impressed. Yet maybe it is the fact that blaccks vote Democatic that s the problem rather than skin colour.
      Racism would die off quite quickly if right wingers reached out and brought blacks into the fold. But that would also mean that those blacks would have to face a lot of anger from left wingers who would accuse them of ”acting white”. SO where is the real racism?
      I think that the right needs to have a conversation with blacks. It needs to offer friendship and explain that race is in fact the least interesting thing about a person. It also needs to explain how conservatism can help everyone.
      Blacks in turn need to get the chip off the shoulder and be preapred to talk as human beings not as blacks.
      Talk of ”white privilege” will not help in this context.

      • E. Olson says

        Peter wrote: “Racism would die off quite quickly if right wingers reached out and brought blacks into the fold.”

        If by “reaching out” you mean that the Right get in a bidding war with the Left on giving blacks more “free stuff” and more special treatment (affirmative action, quotas), then I disagree with you completely as those policies are what have helped kill black families and sense of personal responsibility. If you mean Republicans can reach out by helping tear down statues of Robert E. Lee, and offering generous reparations for slavery that ended in 1865, then I strongly disagree that those achieve anything positive.

        On the other hand, can you please show me some examples of where right wingers have not been open to blacks joining their side? I believe Ben Carson, Larry Elder, Thomas Sowell, Herman Cain, Tim Scott, Colin Powell, Michael Steele, Condi Rice, Walter Williams, Clarence Thomas, Allen West, and many other blacks have all been welcomed with open arms by the Right.

        • Lewis Guignard says

          I believe most racism and white privilege are constructs of a Democratic party which is trying to use divisiveness to maintain their power. The game plays something like this: you are a member of ‘this’ group. As such you are being held down by some other group (usually white privilege) and can only be helped by giving us your vote.

          It is a demeaning method of control, but only, as far as I personally can tell, for those who are very politically active. Most people want the same things: a decent way to make a living, a relatively safe neighborhood, a good education for their children, and, most importantly, a government which helps them achieve these things, not interferes with their every decision.

          The company I work with has more black employees/contractors than other. In all my years I’ve found that few black people care any more about political activism than any other group of people. Most of them, I suspect, vote Democrat. Why? Habit most likely and lack of enough interest to learn something else.

          None the less their concerns are the same as any other. Tyris is upset because his son got kicked out of school for 3 days. Guess what, it’s his son’s fault, not the teacher. So the son is punished again at home, but we both agree that losing 3 days of school is not a good solution/punishment. How does that help the misbehaving child learn to play by the rules of the society we live in?

        • J wheeler says

          Wow you are dumb and racist as hell. “A bidding war to give blacks free stuff” — do you realize how dumb and racist you sound? What next? Going to post a picture of Obama next to a primate?

          You are so oblivious to your engrained racism. You need to read a book. NOT by Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity either you moron.

      • Peter Smith says

        I’m concerned that quick labeling and categorically assigned “guilt” relieves the “not guilty” from individual responsibility for their choices and outcomes. Where is today’s MLK to point out that we all have choices that can be made that help you down the road, regardless of where you began?

    • Sal Minella says

      The concept of White privilege is stereotyping plain and simple.

    • Let’s say that W expresses an opinion with which B disagrees. B suggests that W “check your privilege.” Or, let’s say instead that social convention in some subset of society (college campus, law firm, workplace) evolves such that W feels constrained from expressing an opinion within a sphere of discourse without acknowledging at least his skin color (“as a white man …”), if not the privilege said to obtain from it.

      The former hypothetical is an assertion of social control and a denigration of the speaker. We know that B perceives W to be white; and we know that B is asserting that due to the color of W’s skin: (i) W has no business expressing an opinion on that subject (i.e., only people who are not white or who hold opinions assumed prevalent among non-whites have valid opinions on this subject); or (ii) W’s opinion on that subject is less worthy than any opinion of B. B, of course, may be a person of color or a white person arrogating to himself the social power of the “woke.”

      The latter hypothetical is an acknowledgment of social control by and a denigration of the speaker. It is the state of social convention sought by repeated derogation of people and their opinions by virtue of the color of their skin.

      I think that it is this transfer or creation of social power that is behind confessions and accusations of white privilege. It is a form of acceptable rudeness that is alluring, jejeune and purposefully coercive; or it is an acknowledgement of inferiority within a given sphere of discourse that has been coerced. It is any event old-fashioned Roland Barthes-style myth-making, in which the experiences of a speaker, his history, intellect, and the facts at his disposal, are categorized and dismissed by virtue of his appearance. This is not good when it happens to women, people of color, or white people.

    • CompSci says

      BB, nothing can be solved if the data and facts continue to be disagreed upon, or really simply ignored. Your description of police shootings of Blacks is less an example of systemic racism than it is of the wildly disproportionate criminal violence found in the Black community as say in the White community—regardless of SES.

    • The “little boy” shot by Cleveland Police was 5’7″ and weighed 191 lbs. Google the video and also compare a genuine automatic pistol with the “Airsoft” pistol used by the little boy. Police reaction was not out of line given the circumstances.

    • Dear BB; please withhold your sympathy until you’ve googled the facts. The “little boy” shot by Cleveland Police was 5′ 7” and weighed 191 lbs. While doing so google the difference between an “Airsoft” pellet gun and an automatic handgun.

  5. Morgan Foster says

    “A study [Erin Cooley) recently published, for instance, shows how participants were more likely to associate poverty with blacks as opposed to whites.”

    Erin Cooley needs to travel outside her cosy little urban neighborhood and talk to some white people in the rural South. She’ll learn something new.

    • Barney Doran says

      Morgan: Actually Colgate is located in very rural, upstate New York, which is inflicted with a vast amount of white poverty, not to mention opioid addiction. Just for the record.

  6. Weasels Ripped My Flesh says

    For the first three or so decades of my life, requests for charity were “please give”. Bragging about a donation was phrased, “I gave”.

    Somewhere along the line, maybe in the 90s(?) the jargon changed to “please give back” and the bragging became “we gave back”. No one can give these days; one can only give back. This is because of course the only reason you had anything to give was that you took it to begin with.

    I view the Liz Warren “you didn’t build that” along the same lines.

    I don’t know where this ends. Just an observation.

    • codadmin says

      If one group believes another group stole their stuff, it ends in war.

      If one group believes they stole other people’s stuff, it ends in genocide.

    • David of Kirkland says

      Obama said that. And if you are born and think you built any of what the world already offers, you are delusional and self-centered. All of civilization was built before we were born, and all we do is add tweaks to it.

  7. James says

    As a Black/Mexican, I’m getting pretty tired of the patronizing white privilege talk. I grew up upper middle class, went to great schools, and then went to a renown college. It seems that I grew up in, and continue to live, a lifestyle “reserved” for whites. To believe that being middle-class is a function of being white is patronizing; to other whites who aren’t middle class and to the majority POC who are in fact middle class. My family did well for themselves in spite

    • E. Olson says

      James – stop being such a Uncle Tomaz and get with the program – you are a victim whether you admit it or not.

      • E. Olson, you are an indoctrinated sheep who lacks life experience and so repeats whatever you’re told. I’m white and when I shoot video I work with two black guys who get double my pay because they know twice as much. If I claimed white privilege they’d laugh their heads off.

  8. Tom Shen says

    In my youth, I was walking down the street with a friend who happened to be White. A car stopped next to us, and a Black person, about our age opened the door and pointed a large caliber revolver at us. Smiling , he said something like “We don’t kill Chinamen (me), but White boy, you are dead!” They then drove off.Now I don’t know if the gun was loaded; I don’t even know if it was real. But if it was both loaded and real, the Black guy had life and death control over my White friend, which is the ultimate privilege. So you can take the idea of white privilege and go **** yourself.

    • rnt says

      @Tom Shen

      If you look at the interracial crime stats, you’d see that blacks are victimizing whites at a high rate. Anti-white racism is being propagated in the black community and among the MSM.

      “Many of America’s most pressing social problems disproportionately harm people from minority groups.”

      The author’s statement is complete BS. It’s not disproportionate, it’s proportionate to the level of dysfunction that is present in their communities. They are sabotaging themselves and we’re sick of taking the blame for it.

  9. ATate says

    It’s always a lecture. Done with lectures.

    They start off with “Dear White People”…I end with take your condescending smugness, tip forward and look at the ground…NOW SHOVE THAT FUCKING SIGN UP YOUR ASS!!!!

    Holy shit, you cunty fucks.

    Journalist from the “Greater Good Science Center” which greater good are ya working on? Vaccines? Batterie Storage Issues, something like that?


    It’s still 1955 to these half wits.

    If there’s so much racism in America why have there been hundreds for hate hoaxes? Hundreds! Supply’s not keeping up with demand.

    I barely graduated high school but I’m getting lectured from a guy on a “fellowship” at UC Berkeley about all MY privilege?

    Jesus Fucking Christ.

    • scribblerg says

      White college dropout here. Only because I had zero inherited wealth and being a white male, I didn’t qualify for specific support. My stepmother, my remaining “parent” if you could call her that, moved 1500 miles away and didn’t invite me to join her 21 days after I was 18.

      I remember being 26, with 90 something credits under my belt. I had a newborn child, a stay at home wife, a high pressure software sales job I had HUSTLED MY WAY INTO AND CRUSHED WITH HARD WORK and was sitting in a class on a Wed night. It was a core requirement for graduation I had to take at one point, a European 20th century history course or something. I realized after a couple of classes that the prof was an outright communist. He lingered so long on the “Prague Spring” and so many other faves of leftist, it was quite biased.

      8 pm at night. I’m exhausted, as my newborn daughter keeps us up all night most nights. I haven’t had more than say 2 hours sleep in a row for 2 months. And this gasbag is prattling on in the front of the room. Fyi, I’d paid 900 bucks for this 3 credit class – it wasn’t govt money or some grant or welfare. My money. That I had to hustle and earn every day, that I had to make on top of the amount of money I needed to support my young family. I had this moment of clarity, realizing that sitting in this class, paying this bastard and his corrupt university was a suckers game. So, I got up (small class, maybe 30 of us) and left.

      Privilege? I guess left wing hacks would tell me that I was given that sales job, lol. My start in the information technology business was as a temp in the warehouse of a computer company. I got promoted and moved up and was able to eventually cajole my way into a sales job in the NYC office to give me a shot due to my ambition and smarts. I had to take an admin job in their office for 6 months to clean up all their commission and receivable problems – more privilege. I had to move to NYC on my own dime – more privilege. And oh yeah, I had built new systems and done extra projects and worked on my own time – overtime without pay at times – to deliver results to my managers that were head and shoulders above the other guys in the warehouse. And then in my role in customer service, I did the same thing.

      Privilege? Fyi, the company was owned by a larger conglomerate and was not performing well so after 5 months in this ‘privileged job’ of sales the company laid me and 80% of the sales force off as they downsized the biz.

      But I used that experience to get a crappy pc sales job so i could get more tech experience and then moved my way up the foodchain in my business by performance and results. I eventually got to the top of my field, working for legendary companies, and getting 6 figures just to show up – before I sold a thing.

      To a lazy, angry, ignorant person, this looks like privilege. But in reality? I failed many times. I was guaranteed nothing, ever. I was screwed out of jobs, income, promotions, commissions – I was handed NOTHING. I fought for every inch and lost more than I won.

      I also paid a horrendous price. I divorced at 30, my ex telling me that I was obsessed with work. Family members will tell of me working on major holidays, being on family trips in which I had to interrupt scheduled vacations to work on deals, at the last moment. I’ve done more redeye flights, working the next day, than I can remember. Many 60+ hour weeks. Many times missing social and other important events.

      Privilege? How about putting a bit in my mouth? I worked my ass off and now I’m told that the people who didn’t bother to do so were screwed by me in some indirect way? I worked with black, hispanic and white guys in the warehouse where I started. Me? I came early and stayed late. I asked for extra work. I didn’t smoke weed on lunch (only after work). I built relationships with office people, I learned the systems. Hell, when I was given the job as receiving clerk (a prestigious job in a warehouse, particularly at 20yo), I made it an independent study project in the logictics dept of the junior college I was attending at the moment and redesigned the entire receiving system to great effect.

      Privilege? Fuck everyone on this earth who thinks I was given a thing.

      • E. Olson says

        scribblerg – obviously you are cognitively privileged, and privileged to have never been told you were a victim and that the system was rigged against you. The first privilege was mostly an act of God (genes), which cannot be redistributed or given to the less cognitively fortunate, while the second is the product of the rise in Leftist theory of privilege and your being a white male.

      • JD says

        @scribblerg . Man I love a scrappy life story – yours resembles my own in a lot of ways. Having 3 kids under age 6 while attending a California university (in the 90’s anyway) gets you a huge cut on tuition, it turns out. 🙂 . Had to drop out my junior year because my wife needed major surgery. Welp….guess we’ll hack out a living one way or another. So I worked 5 hours a day after my 9 to 5 studying software development, opened my own consultancy and moved up from there. Still no degree. I also got divorced at 28. Sometimes banging out a living for your family is a thankless job.

        Now, I’m not an advocate of white privilege but I do think from time to time how my early years impacted my ability to scratch out a decent, middle class life. Raised by 2 parents who didn’t divorce, and are moderately religious. My dad was an engineer for a state agency and made enough for us to live on – not extravagant but enough. I grew up in a safe neighborhood and attended a good school. Among other things, my father showed me the supreme value of the Puritan work ethic and that, more than anything, has served me most throughout my life. After I left home at 17, I didn’t get too many handouts from my parents – oh maybe a bit of help here and there but nothing to count on for long term support – which is how it should be.

        So, was I privileged? Compared to what? I’m one generation removed from dirt farmers who moved west during the depression so they wouldn’t starve to death. As my father would say, the “privileges” of my formative years were standard issue for most kids back in the 50’s – even black kids. As Peterson is fond of saying, there are 3 things one can do to obtain the coveted holy grail of “white privilege” in the US:

        Don’t have kids out of wedlock,
        Hold a job – any job – and move up the skills/income ladder,
        Stay away from drugs and too much alcohol (I think that’s the 3rd one….can’t remember)

        In any case, I firmly believe that ANYONE, with a little bit of discipline, can follow these 3 principles, to one degree or another, and be successful, to one degree or another. This isn’t privilege – it’s common sense and a bit of delayed gratification.

        I’m rambling so I’ll wrap it up. Your scrappy experience is like a big gold bar in your bag of tricks for this life. You earned it fairly. Another thing my father always told me…there are always people who think that life owes them something. I didn’t understand this much as a kid, but I certainly see it now that the concept is virtually enshrined as a human right in our culture. I can’t help but believe that folks who subscribe to this concept are deeply unsatisfied and unfulfilled. Me….I’m quite satisfied and maybe that’s the main reward.

        • Stephanie says

          White privilege is a bogus concept in modern society, having experienced that flattening myself. I have white skin but was raised by poor immigrants from the third world in an overcrowded bungalow. I’m 3 generations down from illiterate, mountain-dwelling goat herders who only spoke Arabic, and even though my family integrated very well, I lacked the supposed staples of white privilege: intact family, financial savvy, strong work ethic, ect.

          It is absurd that if I had my mother’s skin tone I’d be a victim, but having my absent (alcoholic, excon, Irish) father’s makes me an oppressor, but all metrics of privilege are collapsed down to that one superficial axis. I realised the American left was like this when I attended an American scientific conference. I was awarded a tiny “diversity” scholarship to attend because I’m so disprivileged on paper, but when I attended their event, everyone gave me the stink eye. I was the only “white” person there and they were visibly deeply resentful that that had flown under their radar and they had wasted grant money on someone as supposedly privileged as I.

          The event itself was embarrassing, with awards handed out for “best black researcher” and other such qualified praise. I would have felt demeaned being offered such an award, and I started feeling demeaned to have accepted their pittance ($214 award for a $3000 trip).

          I am deeply privileged to have been born in a Western country, to be reasonably intelligent, to be conventionally attractive, and perhaps most of all to be female. Men have a tendency to want to help women, even if they don’t have a romantic motivation. Women for ideological reasons want to elevate more women. I’m treated much more gently and given more help than a man would be, doubly now that I’m pregnant.

          • CompSci says

            White privilege was invented to justify the taking of resources from Whites. Nothing more. It’s hard to justify theft—even to minorities, but certainly to the White majority. Privilege is at its base, thought of as obtaining something “unearned through legitimate effort”. That’s pretty much what we define theft as. Of course, thieves should not be allowed to prosper from their illegitimate activities and society either takes back what they stole, or forces them to make restitution.

            Restitution is the key concept here. Now that we’ve convinced you that you are not the legitimate owner of your efforts, all sorts of pernicious restitution scams by the race pimps and academic grifters come into play: affirmative action, reparations, welfare, etc. They all involve the same concept, taking from the productive to give to the non-productive (lessor abled).

            I for one am not buying it. Like so many posting here, I refuse to have my life’s achievements and hard work discredited by a bunch of academic mediocrities and grifters. White privilege, if there is such a thing, has been for the most part earned by Whites in general through generations of hard work and progress up the social ladder. And as pointed out by another poster, there are any number of minorities climbing that ladder as well—as there should be in this bountiful country.

          • Men like to help attractive women. Unattractive women and men have a lot of the same problems when it comes to getting help or sympathy.

            For that matter, attractive men have it a little easier too.

            I always thought it was funny that these Hollywood actresses would come out and complain about becoming “invisible” as they aged. They framed it as discrimination. In reality, attractive young women receive undue attention (granted not always welcome attention) while everyone else is largely ignored. :/

      • Toby says

        White College Drop Out: All good points, but who are the Left you and others talk about? By many folks I would be considered a Democratic Socialist, but I find this mantra of ” white privilege” as a bottomless pit of blame and anti-white racism. It’s time for everyone to stop yammering about this non issue.

        • House of Shards says

          Tell that to the shrills at both universities where I work, with their “end white supremacy” emails and “unconscious bias” workshops.

  10. Doug F says

    The world is not and will never be fair. Some people will be smarter, some will be taller, some will be better looking, each will be raised with more or less money, better or worse parenting, some will face forms of societal prejudice. A white person trapped in a wheel chair with an IQ of 80 faces a life more un-fair than the vast majority of LGBT members, but might actually have a more fair life than most citizens of tyrannical governments. The spectrum of unfairness incorporates many many dimensions and the idea that race or sex or sexual orientation float as bubbles of unfairness that are somehow special is a myth; heck in the USA, a much better case could be made regarding Viet Nam vets.

    A quick aside – as a male standing at 5’8″ my chances of being a CEO are at least as unlikely as an average female. As a left-hander I face significant challenges and dangers from power tools, standardized testing layouts, etc. I find it ludicrous that society should try to “fix” these issues. I focus on what I can change about things and try to take accountability for my state in life. – End aside.

    Society has an obligation to ensure that rules (laws) are not subjectively applied based on non-related characteristics, and for all intents and purposes that has been accomplished in western societies. Going past that are just forms of social engineering that historically have proven more damaging than positive (besides usually costing tons of money).

    The statistics indicate that a troubled life correlates much more closely with no-father-at-home than to race. This would imply that at least a significant part of the problem is the family culture in poor black communities (which was ironically was at least partially shaped by LBJs War on Poverty – https://www.heritage.org/welfare/commentary/married-the-welfare-state – a perfect example of social engineering creating negative unintended consequences). But the solutions to this root cause don’t fit the narrative. To convince people to continue to vote for more and more government requires people to think that all the problems they have are all due to societal unfairness and can therefore only be solved by the government. People that have decided that they are not to blame for anything in their life are doomed to fail, creating a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Doug F

      ” As a left-hander I face significant challenges”

      We’re victims of the Dextocracy brother.

      • Doug F says

        Dang I had no idea. Guess I should stop trying to improve myself and vote for AOC to make everything fair.

    • Asenath Waite says

      @Doug F

      Great comment. I am also left handed (those damn fold-out classroom desks!), and I always thought I was 5′ 8″ until a recent physical during which I found out I was actually only 5′ 7″. So check your privilege, heighty.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Asenath Waite

        White privilege!
        Right privilege!
        Hight privilege!
        Sight privilege! (The world is sight-centric is it not?)
        Might privilege! (The world favors strength, no?)

        I’m sure I’m missing a few.

        • Asenath Waite says

          @Ray Andrews

          Bite privilege. Those with naturally straight teeth.
          Knight privilege. I’m sick of being excluded from their elitist tourneys.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Asenath Waite

            Ha! That’s a good one. Yes, the bloody snobs. Sir this and Lady that. Sir Mick Jagger if you please and how dare you be familiar?

  11. Farris says

    “There is a sizable racial wealth gap, a life expectancy gap, and an incarceration gap.”

    Attorney General Holder opined that America needs to have an honest conversation about race. However it turns out there are certain questions that are verboten.
    1. If white privilege is an issue why aren’t Asians impacted in terms of wealth, life expectancy and incarceration?
    2. Why are Nigerians the most successful minority group. https://medium.com/@joecarleton/why-nigerian-immigrants-are-the-most-successful-ethnic-group-in-the-u-s-23a7ea5a0832.

    To name a few. How can a reasonable conversation about conflict begin with it is all about you. Before a reasonable conversation can begin each side must recognize, acknowledge and accept what it brings to the table, otherwise you’re just playing the blame game.

    “Her team found that this association helps predict opposition toward policies that involve economic redistribution, since it is widely believed that these policies benefit blacks over whites.”

    With talks of reparations is there any wonder why this belief exists.

    “Racism exists, of course, and its impact is disproportionately felt by society’s minority populations.”

    Does personal responsibility exist?

    “One alternative to white-privilege discourse would be to focus on the causes and consequences of deprivation rather than on naming groups of people we believe to hold special advantages…”

    Best line of the article.

    • E. Olson says

      Good comment Farris – you picked almost all the same lines I flagged when reading.

      “Her team found that this association helps predict opposition toward policies that involve economic redistribution, since it is widely believed that these policies benefit blacks over whites.”

      Instead of inferring racism for opposition to redistribution, how about asking questions such as: Do you believe redistribution actually solves the problem of inequality? Do you believe that giving people something they didn’t earn actually helps them overcome their obstacles in life?

      “Racism exists, of course, and its impact is disproportionately felt by society’s minority populations.”

      How about providing some tangible examples of real racism where some person doesn’t get a job or school slot because they are from a minority population? Simply pointing to statistics that show lower outcomes for some groups that others is not proof of racism or sexism or discrimination. So show me the school application materials and job postings saying “whites only” or “white males are strongly encouraged to apply” or “we have family friendly policies” or any other code words that suggest that “victim” groups are being purposely excluded from consideration. On the other hand, I can show you thousands of examples of corporate personnel policies, school application processes, government procurement policies, and legal mandates that require/encourage organizations to use affirmative action, racial/gender quotas and set-asides, and “diversity is our strength” mantras in running HR offices. Thus I think it is safe to say that the only group that you will find true discrimination against is white males. 92% of gender related college scholarships are for females (even though they make up 60% of the university student body), and nobody is ever concerned that white males are under-represented in any school or occupation.

      • Rick Myers says

        Racism does not in fact exist in America. It exists only in the hearts of fewer and fewer people,most of who have no influence at all on society. That is the simple and obvious reason that people from all over the world have been flocking here for fifty years . People who use the word racism should be shamed and shunned , not those that are accused unjustly.

    • Stephanie says

      Yes, discrepancy does not indicate discrimination. That intangible, unmeasurable leftist “God of the Gaps” should only be tentatively invoked after a serious effort is made to take into consideration all possible causes of that discrepancy.

      It is well-known now that black people are not disproportionately targeted by police: they are targeted proportional to their share of crimes committed. Another claim is that black people receive disproportionately harsh sentences, but a recent analysis (I found a few months ago and don’t have on-hand) found that the more relevant factors you take into account, the smaller that discrepancy becomes, until it is barely statistically significant. Every indication suggests that further work taking more relevant factors into account will make the race incarceration gap shrink to nothing, the way the gender wage gap does.

      In Canada, we are constantly talking about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women as if it is some great mystery, but half the population understands that the disappearance and murder rates are perfectly predicted by the greater criminality of Indigenous men and the greater propensity of Indigenous women to engage in prostitution and hitchhiking. In Australia we recently had Indigenous women marching on Parliament to demand the government do something about their astronomical domestic abuse issues, in complete defiance of the extremely personal nature of this cultural problem.

      If we had teachers and media personalities interested in the sober analysis of statistical data, instead of emoting what they consider the sympathetic narratives, we could have a productive conversation about what values and habits lead to the best outcomes. That would actually help black, Indigenous, and even white people, instead of this superficial analysis that just pits groups against each other.

      • Ray Andrews says


        I understand Oz is going to start Apologizing. Take it from us, once you start, it never stops.

    • House of Shards says

      That’s what Charles Murray set out to do — find the causes — and look where that got him!

  12. Andreas K. says

    I remember discussing the matter very soberly with my brother. We compared what others had explained to us over the years as being our preferential treatment. Slowly, it began to dawn on us that very much of what had been described wasn’t so much positive treatment as it merely of was the absence of negative treatment.,

    Similarly, much of what had been described to us, leastwise in our own little lives, owed more to our having been ignored than it did to anyone looking upon us with any especial favoritism. In hindsight, it appeared to us that our being left alone was the real privilege we had known in our lives. Nobody helped us, nobody hindered us; nobody gave us anything, nobody took anything either. Nobody smiled at us, nobody frowned at us; nobody mocked us, nobody praised us. We simply had been so taken for granted everywhere, by everyone, that we weren’t given a second thought: by black, white, brown, by everyone. Everybody left us alone. Nobody looked at us.

    It was a startling realization: being noticed was how trouble happened. People didn’t pay attention to us, so we were free to live our lives in peace, untroubled. Very different from what others had told us, not necessarily in effect, but assuredly different in meaning. Different, too, in implications for the state of the world around us.

    White privilege, the privilege of being ignored. Not favored but ignored. Based on that, my brother poignantly exclaimed, and I had to share his assessment, “Every race deserves white privilege, and I’ll do my part to give it to them!”

    White privilege, the privilege of being ignored and left alone.

    • Andreas K. says

      I think somehow I might have uploaded the unfinished draft of my comment too. My apologies if that appears.

  13. Robby Illuminknotty says

    Of course it is a privilege to have enough to eat and have access to medical care. Through-out history, most people did not have these things. Saying they are basic human rights demonstrates an infantile understanding of life and economics.

    • Doug F says

      Agreed. Calling anything that costs money a right (with a therefore related entitlement) is a non-sequitur, since rights should be immutable. But if the money runs out…

  14. Andreas K. says

    I remember discussing the matter very soberly with my brother. We compared what others had explained to us over the years as being our preferential treatment. Slowly, it began to dawn on us that very much of what had been described wasn’t so much positive treatment as it merely of was the absence of negative treatment. Similarly, much of what had been described to us, leastwise in our own lives, owed more to our having been ignored than it did to anyone looking upon us with any especial favoritism.

    In hindsight, it appeared to us that our being left alone was the real privilege we had known in our lives. Nobody helped us, nobody hindered us; nobody gave us anything, nobody took anything either. Nobody smiled at us, nobody frowned at us; nobody mocked us, nobody praised us. We simply had been so taken for granted everywhere, by everyone, that we weren’t given a second thought: by black, white, brown, by everyone.

    We were ignored; not favored but ignored. Perhaps not always different in effect from being favored, but definitely different in meaning and implications. My brother poignantly exclaimed our epiphany, saying, “Every race deserves white privilege, and I’ll do my part to give it to them!”

    White privilege, the privilege of being ignored and left alone in peace.

    • Doug F says

      MLK – “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

      Progressives – “I have a dream, that one day all people will be judged by to color of their skin (or sex or gender identification)”

      • CompSci says

        Did any family demonstrate (White) privilege more than the Rev. King’s? And hell, they were Black. 😉

    • Andreas, I would love to be alone and left in peace. Unfortunately, I don’t see either political party in America making any attempt to do that.

    • codadmin says

      @Andreas K.

      “White privilege, the privilege of being ignored and left alone in peace.”

      This must be satire?

      Let’s take one metric, interracial crime. Please explain how whites are being ‘ignored’?

    • FavoriteHistoricalCharacter says

      As a gay white man, I can tell you, I was not ignored, I was harrassed. Being “white” is not one’s only characteristic.

  15. Elwood Wulf says

    ‘Racism would die off quite quickly if right wingers reached out and brought blacks into the fold.’

    Lincoln was republican and fought a war to do that. Blacks voted republican until democrats bought them off with extensive welfare about 100 years ago. The effect of this program was vote buying and it worked. Downside: it incentivized single parent homes, devastated families, disconnecting dads and making moms dependent on the state.

  16. Shamrock says

    “Racism exists, of course, and its impact is disproportionately felt by society’s minority populations.”

    Really? I didn’t know East and South Asians were struggling.

  17. Morgan Foster says

    “It is not a privilege to have a decent and safe childbirth, or avoid harassment by the police, or to have enough to eat.”

    It is not a privilege to maintain a healthy lifestyle – no alcohol, tobacco or drugs – while pregnant and make a personal effort to consult a physician during pregnancy, even if that physician works for a county health department.

    It is not a privilege to avoid committing crimes. Most African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans are not harassed by police officers.

    Given the high incidence of obesity among African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans, including their children, it is laughable to suggest that there is a general difficulty with any of them having enough to eat.

    Let’s not get carried away with the privilege thing.

    • Farris says

      @Morgan Foster


      If I smoke 3 packs a day, subsist on red meat, consume copious amounts of alcohol and live a sedentary lifestyle, is it fair I die a premature death? Is it fair medical science subsidizes my poor choices on other people’s dime? Most importantly who’s to blame?

      Similarly if I eschew education, commit crimes, do drugs and have children out of wedlock in my teens (creating more people in poverty) who is to blame?

      Perhaps privilege should be changed to disciplined. One can blame his or her failures on others or seek to better oneself. People are currently pouring across western borders to join the privileged ranks of the poor in those countries.

      • What the author failed to mention is that, in addition to your points @Morgan Foster and @Farris, is that medical mistrust among the African American community in the United States (and the UK as well) is the main reason for higher mortality rates.

        Recently, I was conducting extensive research into organ donation and came across numerous scholarly articles referring to “medical mistrust” among POC. This included the Asian and East Asian populations in addition to the black community. White people disproportionately represent the majority of blood and tissue donors in Western countries. Reasons for this are speculative; however, some articles suggest that when a family immigrates from a country without access to Western medicine, to a country with it (US, UK, Canada), the higher the likelihood that they will not trust Western physicians or Western medicine. If distrust is carried down through the generations and ignorance remains, then the quality of care for those persons will be poor by virtue of their bias.

        There have been multiple focus groups, PR studies, and psychological research publications which have aimed to discover why POC mistrust the Western medical establishment. Answers vary, with lack of education being the most prevalent among researchers. With improved education and understanding, this decreases misconceptions and increases participation and the quality of patient care. Once the mistrust has been removed, the patient can then care for themselves because medicine is a two-way street.

        Having said that, if the individuals seeking assistance are in a lower income bracket and have to pull out their debit or credit card every time they see a doctor with no guarantee that the quality of care will be exemplary, the financial burden added to the mistrust would likely hinder patient care too.

        Therefore, to assert that maternal mortality is higher among the black community is true; however, there are reasons for it beyond the blame of the medical establishment. Poverty + medical mistrust = higher mortality rate.

        • House of Shards says

          Perhaps there’s something to the “medical mistrust” theory, though (and I realize that this is anecdotal) most waiting rooms I ever see (and I see many, living in NYC) are chock-full of POC’s. Perhaps what holds them back is the wait — so many people in various states of self-imposed disrepair filling these rooms makes for a full day’s wait for a checkup, and even then…

        • I’ve seen studies where even controlling for economic status, maternal death rates were higher for black women than white women. That is, even wealthy, college-educated black women were dying at higher rates than their white peers.

          There are definitely issues with the health care system. The overuse of prescription opioids is less common among black patients, in part because physicians have a tendency to disbelieve the extent of pain in black patients.

          That’s also one of the arenas where white privilege is not necessarily beneficial to whites. In a recent study in Minnesota on the disparity of home removal by CPS between white children and children of color. What they found indicated that the disparity was more strongly explained by the fact that white parents were more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt–and children of white parents were therefore at higher risk of being left in unsafe homes than children of POCs being taken unjustly (though there was indeed some indication of that as well).

          It’s a much more complicated sociological issue than we realize.

    • Leif says

      “Many of America’s most pressing social problems disproportionately harm people from minority groups.”
      Zaid Jilani’s piece is informative, but it assumes that people have very little control over their lives.
      Is it more accurate to say ‘divorce harms you’, or ‘you cheated on your wife’?
      Is it more accurate to say ‘poverty harms you’, or ‘you didn’t show up for work on time’?

      While the truth probably lies somewhere in between, bad things will happen to you in your life.
      Some will be your fault, some not.
      In either case, you need to get up and get on with your life.
      No one else can or will do this for you.

  18. “In nearly every part of the criminal justice system, in fact, men on average have it worse than women do. But does that then mean we should be discussing “female privilege”?”

    Yes, that’s exactly what it means. Of course it’s far from the only way in which society privileges women, but the disparate treatment of women and men by the criminal justice system would be a good place to start.

    • Historian says

      “Society” does not privilege females. Females are still underrepresented in political power and the higher business positions. There is certainly evidence of more job discrimination against mothers than fathers (as well as childless females and males). Males commit much more violence than females in most societies. This is at least in part because of the way they are socialized : to keep it brief, certain types of violence has been encouraged and even valorized for males. One example, the warrior/soldier was and is still promoted as a role model for many men, but until recently females were barred from that role. Men are given mixed messages about violence: it’s good to use violence against the “bad” , but supposedly not against the “good.” But don’t always judge who is bad and who is good fairly. Until recently it was LEGAL and acceptable for a man to hit/beat his wife and children, especially if he thought she or they being “bad” too, and that still is true in many societies. In contrast, females are condemned for even expressing too much anger– (why in American English is there no male equivalent for “bitch”–the woman who expresses too much anger?) let alone using violence against other adults. (In contrast to men, who were allowed, sometimes even encouraged to use violence against many different groups, the only group an adult woman was sanctioned to use violence against were her own “misbehaving” children).

      In short, too many men are violent because they are not taught to behave responsibly and respect others’ lives or safety.

      • CompSci says

        Here we go again, men and women are equal—except for some “plumbing”. Nonsense. Men are by nature men, women are women. Men have a natural proclivity towards aggression, women towards nurturing. As a species, we complement each other.

        The warrior script for men encourages that which is natural and still quite necessary for a society. It not only produces soldiers, but all classes of protectors; police, fire as well as engineers, coal miners and steel workers. To mix the two is societal folly.

        For example, female soldiers in combat roles. First, the highest performing women in PT are outperformed by the lowest performing men—give or take an odd outlier or two. In the next big war, you’ll see just how such mixing of sexes performs under such conditions.

        Finally, please list one State, just one that has not had domestic violence laws on their books for the last 100 years. It is not, nor has ever been (going on four generations at least) legal to assault you wife. Hell, the statutes have been upgraded across the country and at the Federal level to put a man in a decidedly inferior position in such domestic disputes, albeit in the face of studies showing women are fairly often initiators of physical violence these days—despite your claim of their childhood training (perhaps too many “Wonder Woman” movies?).

  19. Philip says

    White privilege, the idea that you label a whole group of people purely because of their skin colour is racism. And it’s absolutely reprehensible to attribute collective guilt to ethnically identified groups. We’ve been down that road before and
    there is absolutely no justification for that. and it should be rejected out of hand. You’re guilty as hell personally but so is everyone else. It’s got nothing to do with skin colour.

  20. Free Thinker says

    What’s missing in this discussion is an examination of the reason for the poverty in the black community. An assumption is being made that it’s solely a result of race/racism. That’s a simplistic view. When you have 70+% of black children born out of wedlock they are set up for failure or at least a more difficult road. What we’re seeing today is racism directed at whites. That’s the fruit of this white privilege narrative. No one denies the existence of racism, but this is not the 1950’s. Time to judge people individually rather than as the member of some racial group. Promoting a victim culture among minorities isn’t helpful either. Stable families and education will bring the results we desire in all communities. The focus needs to be on that rather than trying to divide us into racial groups and promote victimhood and resentment. Only politicians benefit from that.

    • Ok, but isn’t over-incarceration of black men a contributing factor in both the poverty and marriage rates? The statistics are pretty clear that black men face longer prison sentences for committing the same crimes as non-black offenders. You can’t explain that by higher rates of crime either. And clearly the harsher sentences are doing nothing positive.

  21. doug deeper says

    “A typical conservative response to privilege discourse is to downplay the very real inequalities that exist.” Really? Exactly how many conservatives does the author know? … or ever have conversations with?

    I know hundreds of conservatives and I believe she is completely inaccurate. Conservatives acknowledge the inequities that exist, they simply see different causes, such as no father in the home, and different solutions, such as more fathers in the homes.

    • Max York says

      “A typical conservative response to privilege discourse is to downplay the very real inequalities that exist.”
      This statement displays a rhetorical technique we often see used by SJW’s: it preempts any consideration of a conservative viewpoint.

  22. Respek Wahmen says

    If there’s “no scientific basis for race,” then there’s also no scientific basis for racism. The few actual racists I’ve encountered over the years have all been religious, at least tacitly accepting some kind of separate creation idea.


    According to the only meaningful definition of racism, the differences would need to be inherent, not based on environmental conditions or serendipity, and if we can all be said to share common ancestry, then the differences aren’t inherent (existing in someone or something as a permanent and inseparable element, quality, or attribute). Otherwise, how could any generation be said to be smarter than one previous, as it were, or dumber, as is the case now.

    One can recognize differences, like superior intelligence, without assigning moral/ethical value. Just because individuals or groups are less intelligent doesn’t mean they’re less human, with the exception of feminists.

    • CompSci says

      Respek, correct. All people deserve respect, regardless of differences. However, recognizing such differences at the individual—and more importantly, the group level—is the first step towards respect. Nothing can be worse than to ignore inherent differences among groups.

  23. E. Olson says

    The whole concept of “White Privilege” is about justifying reverse discrimination to achieve equal outcomes, because 50+ years of equal opportunity just isn’t getting the job done. According to the theory, whites are born with skin color based privilege they did not earn, which gets them into good schools and good jobs, gives them better medical outcomes, and keeps them out of prison, and that just isn’t fair. Therefore, what is needed are programs and policies that will overcome this unearned privilege, all administered by victim study majors working 6 figure jobs in various “diversity and inclusion” bureaucracies. Thus we should give black applicants a couple hundred extra points on their SATs, because of that slavery legacy thing. Let black criminals out of prison early and don’t sentence them so severely for “victimless” crimes such as drug dealing, parole violations, carrying illegal weapons, and welfare fraud, because it wasn’t their fault that crime is the only way out of the ghetto. Make sure federal procurement programs set aside certain percentages of contracts to minority owned suppliers, because blacks deserve a share of those $600 toilet seat contracts. And if some of those damn Indian, or Chinese, or Jews start to horn in on those minority set-asides and quotas, start to classify them as white because that statistics also show they have too much privilege and need to be taken down a notch or three.

    And when the white privilege theory has permeated schools, HR departments, welfare programs, and procurement programs for 50+ years, and blacks and Hispanics are still found to be disproportionally on the bottom, what will be the next theory of racism and discrimination that will be used to justify more discrimination and racism against successful skin colors?

    • Barney Doran says

      Good one, EO. Vitriol worthy of ‘Outraged.’ Yes, these people seem to think privilege is a zero sum game. If you take it away from whites, it will magically appear in some minority’s column. It is simplistic thinking like that that has gotten them into the social justice hell they must eternally rationalize as they search for their lost sanity.

    • Kristina says

      On the privilege of health outcomes, it would be interesting to look at groups whose genetics lead to the worst health outcomes. I believe Ashkenazi Jews might be the most health-disadvantaged, not because of their lifestyles, but because of a legacy of a lot of genetically-based and inherited conditions. Sure, Jews are privileged as to wealth, but they certainly did not hit the genetic lottery.

      • EK says


        A quick google search suggests Pew Research has found that at the intersection of life expectancy and religion, Jews, atheists and Buddhists are the longest lived, in that order.

        Most of us also assume Jewish wealth is a function their high collective IQ and generally intact families that still frown on mixed marriages.

    • House of Shards says

      I’ve been mulling over the idea that this “white privilege” religion is, basically, an adoption of black racism against whites by guilt-ridden white people.

      I volunteered briefly for an organization that went “into underprivileged neighborhoods” to spread the gospel that white people aren’t that bad by putting together shows and inducting the kids into internships in places they didn’t even know exist because they never leave their neighborhoods.

      I could go on and on about a certain strain of human that “never leaves the neighborhood.” The strain that demonizes everything outside of the neighborhood. It’s not necessarily limited to POC’s, or blacks in particular, but the refusal to move on is akin to limiting one’s perceptions of others and learning about the wider world.

      And there lies the cause of ‘white privilege’ — or anyone who experiences some sort of privilege. Responding to the call to go where work can be found. The risk-taking. The openness to difference.
      John McWhorter analyzes this phenomenon in “Losing the Race” by using Detroit as a case study.

      On the other hand, those who leave (and this could be considered a uniquely American concept, that we have to MOVE, that leaving your small town in the dust elevates one’s status somehow) end up demonizing the people they left behind. The “deplorables.” There’s no worse purveyor of the white privilege myth than the person with working class roots who moved to the big city to become an elitist.

  24. White privilege = A white, unemployed, former auto worker’s daughter has more advantages than Sasha Obama.

    The absurdity of that alone should have banished this concept years ago.

    Class is what matters. Not race. And socioeconomic class in America is becoming more intergenerationally sticky, not less.

    • E. Olson says

      Yea – but what about Obama’s son Trayvon – just skipping his way home from the candy store when he was brutally attacked and killed by a white Hispanic?

      • Toby says

        Olson: That’s another issue but the truth remains that Zimmerman should never have been allowed to own a gun and he got away with murder.

  25. GregS says

    A colleague and I used to take long walks together at lunch. Both of us were single parents and we would talk about our kids and our problems. One bitterly cold winter day, we spotted a guy in a wheelchair struggling to make it up onto a curb through the detritus that the snowplow kicked up. We thought about helping him, but the guy was so determined and self-sufficient that we left him alone.

    My friend then turned to me and said, “Man, I got NO problems.”

    It’s when we became aware of our two-good-legs privilege.

    You kinda have to wonder how ableism fits into the hierarchy of privilege. Does it rank above or below race and gender?

    Perhaps NPR can tell us how to think about this.

  26. Kencathedrus says

    White Privilege: an accusation made by those who benefited the most from it towards those who benefitted the least.

  27. the gardner says

    I am soooooo sick of this subject! Last weekend I went to my son’s graduation from an Ivy MBA program. The student selected to speak was a black lesbian, not because she had the highest GPA or did the most service, no, because her message of victimhood and a plea for inclusivity is what the professors chose. She went to this school as an undergrad and an MBA too, but she whined about how difficult her experience was fitting in. Maybe if she didn’t go around wearing a victimhood chip on her shoulder! The class was full of international students who had incredible stories—- heard from my son— and they seemed to fit in just fine. Any one of them could have been chosen to deliver some uplifting address, about how America is giving them a tremendous opportunity and they are grateful. But no, miss identity politics grievance monger had to have her time. What a loser and an ingrate she is. This is what was recognized, not the kids who were in the top 5% of their class. Oh no, can’t recognize actual accomplishment.

    • E. Olson says

      Gardner – congrats to your son on his degree. I’m going to guess that the black lesbian classmate speaker didn’t mention the financial aid she received (probably a full-ride given she checks the female, black, and homosexual diversity boxes), or the extra “adversity” points she received on her SAT and GMAT scores to gain entry.

      I’ll also make a prediction about her career path: She probably has a very prestigious job offer in a very lucrative field from a “progressive” firm looking to add some diversity points. She will arrive with her combative attitude and sense of entitlement and work the minimal number of hours possible. Her career trajectory will quickly flatten, and as she files endless grievances to the HR department regarding sexist, homophobic, racist micro-aggressions she is being forced to endure by all those around her, and her proof will be the lack of promotion, her supervisor’s lack of high praise in her performance assessments, and the unwillingness of the firm to put her on the high profile accounts. The firm will eventually offer her a generous settlement to leave to “pursue new challenges” and “spend more time with family”, and she will go on to find employment in the racism/sexism/homophobic industrial complex of victim centered NGOs where she will repeat her corporate performance, but receive a far smaller termination package. The cycle will repeat its downward spiral until she eventually hits rock bottom and claims she is yet another victim of racist, homophobic America.

      • the gardner says

        EO— believe she is jumping right to the second tier consulting firm interested in advancing diversity and inclusivity. What a fit. At least I can take some solace in knowing many of her fellow classmates privately rolled their eyes at her speech.

      • House of Shards says

        And if she works in New York City, no matter how difficult she is to get along with, no matter how many gratuitous sick days she claims, no matter how uncomfortable she makes everyone around her with her hostility, because she’s “working while black” (yes, this is the wording on the poster” she is afforded the privilege of government support to retain her job no matter how badly she behaves.

        Some privilege!

  28. Farris says

    Take race (black) out of the equation. I live in one of the poorest regions in my country. I could show you shacks and trailers so dilapidated, you wouldn’t believe them occupied. Who are the poor whites who reside there? They are the high school dropouts, meth dealers, ex-cons, prostitutes and their descendants. The bulk of their income is spent on drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and lottery tickets. In these few random scattered square miles within the County occur most of the homicides, child and spouse abuse cases; it is where most of the stolen property is recovered.

    So what is causing theses privileged whites to be so impoverished? The answers are readily apparent above. So why is it racism to point to similar pathologies when discussing poverty in the black community? Does racism exist? Yes, it is the racism of low expectations and failure to hold people to the same standards demanded of their ilk. It is not compassionate to pander to the troubled, rather than deal with the actual problems. What suggestions would you make to the impoverished whites above? Why wouldn’t you make those same suggestions to impoverished blacks?

    • E. Olson says

      Farris – good comment (as usual), but let me put on my SJ warrior hat and regular EO hat and have a conversation with myself to respond to your question:

      SJW: Yes, but those white failures you mention have squandered their privilege, while the blacks living in similar circumstances are suffering from the legacy of slavery.

      EO: When exactly did slavery end? How many of today’s blacks have any living memory of slavery or have ever personally met a black slave?

      SJW: Sure slavery ended in 1865 and no black today has any memory of it, but that doesn’t mean the legacy doesn’t impact the modern day. For example, black slaves were freed with zero resources, and hence were far behind their white counterparts, and subsequent generations have consequently had less accumulated wealth to inherit and build on.

      EO: But most whites (about 70%) also never receive any significant inheritance, and few of those who do receive any life changing amounts. Furthermore, most southern whites were also poor, never owned slaves and were tenant farmers who therefore had no wealth to hand down. And how do you explain the success of other people’s who have also arrived penniless, such as indentured servant Irish, the Chinese coolies imported to build the railroads, the Jewish refugees from the Holocaust, refugees from Casto’s Cuba, and the Vietnamese boat people from the collapse of S. Vietnam?

      SJW: Yes, but they weren’t slaves, and many of these more recent refugees had educations and family connections to rely on, which is why blacks have needed extra help to overcome the legacy of slavery.

      EO: But Thomas Sowell has carefully documented that blacks as a group were making much better progress in closing economic and social gaps with whites during the Jim Crow era than they have since the implementation of the Great Society Programs and other special programs to “help” blacks. How do explain that?

      SJW: Sowell is a racist and so are you.

      EO: but Sowell is a highly respected economist and black.

      SJW: Shut up you racist.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @E. Olson

        I suppose it is one of the established corollaries of Parkinson’s Law that the amount of help people need expands to always be rather more than the help they have at the moment. I believe in help tho, but it must be seen as very much like Oxycontin — temporary relief that quickly becomes addictive if overused and can easily end up doing more harm than good.

        I remember this story about a proud farmer during the dust bowl. Never took nuthin’ from no one, especially the guvmint. But his kids were starving. So he lined up for his sack of beans from FDR (rotten FDR, interfering with Market Forces like he did when starvation would have quickly rebalanced everything). A few years latter, he was back to prosperity. It seems he took a sack of beans into some guvmint office, threw it down on a desk and said: “Here’s your beans back, and thanks.” The farmer was Privileged to have his self-respect and Victimhood is the opposite of self-respect.

      • Princess Underlove says

        Your strawman version of your dreaded (((SJW))) menace only exposes your own ignorance on matters of privilege. The end of slavery was not the end of a white supremacist (racist) system designed to marginalize people of color, the end of slavery was not the end of bigotry and discrimination against people of color. Inherited wealth is just one factor in a social order designed by racists to make life and success more difficult for people of color than it would be for whites. Positions of authority in the system are overwhelmingly occupied by white people, and ALL white people are inherently, subconsciously racist against people of color, that is the basis of white privilege, every time a person of color has to deal with a white authority or a system designed by white people, they are at a disadvantage, they will be judged more harshly for everything, they will be doubted, distrusted, feared, etc. more than a privileged white person would be in the same situation and, in many cases (such as when dealing with police) this difference can be fatal.

        • hail to none says

          @Princess: what you said about social structures might have made sense in the 1950s but makes very little sense today. Many large cities, for example, are run by diverse coalitions.

          Regarding the individual motivations of white people, it seems to me that you are projecting your own paranoid thoughts and feelings onto others. Assuming you are not white, do you actually know any white people? And if you are white, you come across as a scary racist. There are good and bad people of all shapes, sizes and colors.

        • Shawn T says

          Princess. What words would your Constitution of Color change from the existing Constitution? How would you alter the Bill of Rights? How would you rewrite laws for, say, armed robbery? Would you have one for white and one for others? Separate, but equal? Should the rule be: police may not interview, investigate or arrest POC? Do you really believe society is exactly as it was in 1866? Do you argue that most black people incarcerated are actually innocent, no crime committed? Lay out your superior system of laws and structure of government.

          You, yourself, create an entirely straw-man world full of racist bogey-men. Worse, they aren’t actually racist, they are, unknown to themselves, subconsciously racist! Not only are they racist, the very world, the very woven-straw fabric itself is racist! Counting the white people in a room, on a committee, on a board or anything else demonstrates nothing, other than a count of certain people. Privilege is a dodge…state an actual, concrete, measurable, provable problem and then propose an actual, measurable, concrete solution. Spewing a bunch of generalizations while saying nothing of any substance, peppered with illusions of racism does not solve or improve anything – there isn’t even a statement of anything to solve beyond the system is racist or all white people bad. Are there some problems? Sure. There may even be some policy solutions to them. What you propose is…well, nothing. If everyone in the country 100% agreed with you, what then? At some point you need something real and achievable. Put some effort into that.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Shawn T

            “At some point you need something real and achievable.”

            On the contrary, the bogeyman will become ever more invisible and the problems ever more Systemic and Implicit. In the old days Satan was everywhere yet nowhere, it’s the same now with Privilege. The Princess will never be so lacking in faith that she fails to see the invisible realm of angels and demons. She is no Doubting Thomas.

      • Jerry Place says

        “Sure slavery ended in 1865 and no black today has any memory of it.” Jim Crow is still with us. The GOP is working very hard both Federally and in many red states to erode voting rights through gerrymandering, voter ID laws, reduced pre-election voting et al. In Texas a CCW permit is a valid ID for voting but a student ID is not.

  29. Pingback: What Does Teaching ‘White Privilege’ Actually Accomplish? Not What You Might Think (Or Hope) – Foggytown's Micro Blog

  30. Fuzzy Headed Mang says

    White and black are not exclusive concepts. Many people are part white and part black. So is one half privileged and the other half discriminated against? Barack Obama would be a case in point. He’s not black or white, technically speaking. Does his white half oppress his black half?

    • Delilah says

      I knew a mixed race guy who was shot at (fortunately the round missed) by a neo-Nazi for “acting white” – the idea was he was “sneaking” amongst white people because he was racially ambiguous. Privilege theory would normally place him above blacks but below whites, yet in this case he was targeted where a black person wouldn’t have been, so arguably he didn’t benefit from any privilege there. This shows the concept isn’t very useful at explaining things. It tends to buckle under complexities like this; an other oft given example is people going from areas where they are counted as privileged to ones where they are not – Muslims aren’t privileged in America but they are privileged in much of the Middle East (unless they have the wrong beliefs.

  31. FavoriteHistoricalCharacter says

    Of course, its not meant to change minds, its meant to provoke and permanently put people in buckets, and obscure all other elements of their life that may be salient. If you grew up poor and white (or gay or disabled, or abused or whatever), and have struggled to overcome that and succeeded, its simply an insult to your accomplishments, because it always implied something is unearned.
    It erases all other aspects except race, presenting a false an distorted picture of a human being, and is singularly unhelpful to any discussion of racial discrimination.

  32. Ray Andrews says

    When I lived in the West Indies they had black privilege down there. That’s fine. It was their country after all and why would they not privilege themselves in their own home? As a leftie, I experience right privilege, even outright dextrocentrism, a hundred times a day. But why do the Warriors not weep for me? Oh well, at least you can buy left-handed scissors. Mind, dolphins have no use for scissors anyway so thereyago.

  33. AG says

    Good article, however I would argue that it misses some key political discussion. The author highlights that the narrative of privilege has morphed to mask individual experience with collective guilt for structural inequalities. This is counterproductive to do, the author argues, because it privileges some social structures (e.g. racism) over others, and reduces complex individual phenomena entirely. This is the post-structural argument regarding intersectionality: that each of our lives unfolds uniquely, and that our individual histories shape our contemporary existence in relation to others’ experiences. This is a critique of ‘overdetermination’ (in the language of Gibson-Graham), whereby complex and historically-contingent social phenomena are reduced to one narrative, like class struggle, revolt against the patriarchy, etc. This argument is powerful, and a welcome respite from the ‘overdetermined’ rants of those against ‘the system’: whatever system that may be.

    However, if we accept this critique what follows, politically? Maybe we’re stretching beyond the confines of the article, now, but I think it’s an important thought exercise. Should we move beyond an ontology of social categories (race, class, gender etc.), adopting more of a humanist approach for example, if we nevertheless observe significant group-specific inequalities? Should we, as another author here Coleman Hughes suggests, think rationally and objectively about the causality of different variables on these group-specific discrepancies, while nevertheless preserving those categories? Or should we blend the two as I try to do in my own research on economic geography: recognizing that we can reduce social complexity to an infinite degree. These are complex philosophical questions. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. I just think it’s an important consideration that we are not giving in this article or in contemporary political discourse.

    • Doug F says

      Whatever you come up with should use a few rules:

      throwing money at problems usually does not fix them but may make you feel better
      the goal and end result should be people paying their own way, not a life of dependency
      the goal must not be equal outcome or it will fail

  34. “white privilege” is a misnomer, for the most part, and racist at it’s heart … there may be a case that could be argued for “western privilege”, but even that is easily debunked, by citing the near infinite number of non-white immigrants, that have succeeded beyond the average Canadian citizen’s wildest dreams … in a nutshell, in this modern age, there is little that gets in the way of an individual’s ability to succeed, other than there own lack of interest in using the mechanism available to them, in order to fulfill their dreams …

    • Shawn T says

      Canadian?? Everyone knows racism only exists in the US. Sheesh.

  35. Neil says

    About white privilege, here are the top five groups listed by ancestry and household income.

    Indian American (2016) : $122,026 [2]
    Taiwanese American (2016) : $90,221 [3]
    Filipino American (2016) : $88,745 [2]
    British American (2016) : $79,872[3]
    Austrian American (2016) : $78,127[3]

    And here’s household income by race:

    1 Asian 80,720[1]
    2 White 61,349[1]
    3 All households 57,617[1]
    4 Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 57,112[1]
    5 Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 46,882[1]
    6 Some other race 44,798[1]
    7 American Indian and Alaska Native 39,719[1]
    8 Black or African American 38,555[1]

    The main reason Indian immigrants are at the top is that they’re disproportionately highly educated people from India’s upper castes. Nonetheless, I know a fair number of wealthy Indians who speak the language of white privilege fluently, usually with postcolonial inflections.

  36. northernobserver says

    White Privilege theory turns white people into witches and warlocks. If we deny that we are witches and warlocks it is just further proof that we are witches and warlocks. It is the great leftist gaslight and you should treat it accordingly. Although on some level it is quite flattering, on account of my heritage I am a supernatural being of immense power and influence who lives beyond the limitations of nature …. Cool!

  37. Kristina says

    The anecdote about Sarah Adkins makes me think of the “disadvantage score” that will now be applied to the SAT. Privileges and disadvantages can occur on a macro level, sure, but some of the most important and impactful privileges and disadvantages occur on a micro, individual level, which will never be captured by that “disadvantage score.” Family-specific things like losing a parent, violence in the family (which occurs in all races and ethnicities), health challenges, etc. And perhaps the greatest privilege of all is something that can never be quantified with a score: being loved.

  38. Scott says

    Interesting article and you make some good but many contradictory points. But mostly, I want to examine your premise that “A typical conservative response to privilege discourse is to downplay the very real inequalities that exist.” I agree completely and this in fact describes me quite well!

    In my view, so called “privilege” is an artificial construct to move us toward a least common denominator for society. Rather than raising all, it seeks to push down. More importantly, it misses many crucial points that cultural isolation and lack of assimilation are the real problems. Everyone in life has both tragedy and triumph, privilege and burden, attributing such characteristics by race is ludicrous.

    As to inequality, of course it exists and always has and ALWAYS will. What we do have, and is all that anyone can ever hope for, is equality of opportunity. Inequality is not institutional, it is a fundamental human condition! Inequality, social justice, diversity, privilege; these are terms used by grievance advocates to push a questionable political agenda based on tribalism, envy and anger.

    People are individuals and I reject any effort to look at them in groups. People also have choices and they must accept that their choices both good and bad, help and hurt them in their lives. The key is to own your choices, accept responsibility and to keep trying.

  39. “A study she recently published, for instance, shows how participants were more likely to associate poverty with blacks as opposed to whites.”

    Unless I’m pretty confused, this is simply a recognition of reality.

    White percentage below poverty line in 2017: 8.7%.

    Black percentage below poverty line in 2017: 21.2%.

    So is this “association” bias or reality?

  40. peterschaeffer says

    Hysteria about “white supremacy” is the McCarthyism of our time (with no help from Joe Stalin). From “reds under the bed” we have gone to “white supremacists under the bed”. Guess what? It ain’t real. The richest ethnic groups in America are non-white. “White supremacy” is a useful myth however.

    One of the characteristics of our time is that hysteria is frequently inversely related to the facts. In China under Mao, “capitalist roaders” were supposedly everywhere and subverting everything. At that time, the number of actual “captialist roaders” (outside of jails and death camps) was around zero. China has vast number of very real “capitalist roaders” these days, but no hysteria. Hitler was hysterical about the supposedly omnipotent “Jews”. The power of penniless refugees is not apparent to me. Hitler new better. Not to be outdone, Stalin had his “doctors plot” (also involving Jews) and his famous show trials. Khrushchev admitted that it was all a fraud.

    Now we have “white supremacy” and “racists under the bed”. The very magnitude of the mania shows how false it is. The dominants ideology of our time is “diversity” (really racial quotas). For ever real Klan sympathizer, America has 100 (or 1000) “diversity” fanatics determined to find the “reds under the bed” (make that “racists under the bed”).

    Racism is very powerful in America, PC racism that is. Just the facts. Let’s try college admissions. Quote

    “How much harder is it for an Asian-American applicant? Mr. Zhao and the complaint cite 2009 research by Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade that found an Asian-American student must earn an SAT score 140 points higher than a white student, 270 points higher than a Hispanic and 450 points higher than an African-American, all else being equal. So if a white applicant scored 2160 on the SAT — lower than last year’s Harvard average — an Asian-American would need to hit 2300, well into the 99% percentile, to have an equal chance at getting in.”

    So racism is actually quite real in the U.S. Anti-Asian racism is pervasive and profound (at least in academia).

    If “white racism” and “white supremacy” were even trivially real, whites would be the richest group. The truth is otherwise and the numbers aren’t even close. Average family income for Indian Americans ($107,390), Jews ($97,500), Taiwanese ($85,566), all Asians ($74,245) is greater than Whites ($59,698). As can you see, non-white ethnic groups are at the top and Jews earn (far) more than non-Jewish whites. “White supremacy” is a useful myth however. Don’t give it up.

    • Jerry Place says

      This is the most ignorant comment I’ve seen lately. Your post makes it very clear that racism is alive and very well.

  41. Cedric says

    Just checked my privilege. It’s doing fine, thanks.

    • Weasels Ripped My Flesh says

      My white privilege entitles me to have someone else check on it, especially if I’m out of town for while.

  42. Albigensian says

    “Racism exists, of course, and its impact is disproportionately felt by society’s minority populations.”

    If one accepts the dogma that racial minorities can’t be racist then it would seem to follow that that the impact of racism isn’t merely “disproportionately” felt by minority populatons, but that it is exclusively felt by minorities.

    Then again, dogma is what one accepts without thinking. Some years ago, I was beat up on a San Francisco street by three black men who made it very clear they were doing so solely because I was white. Nor was the motive robbery, as I was left lying on the sidewalk yet nothing was taken from me.

    Yet this dogma would (must) declare that these men were not (because they could not) be racist.

    So, what happens when dogma gets beat up by reality? Well, then one might have to admit that racial minorities can be racist, and some are. But if one were to admit this there might be less talk of “whiteness” and “white privilege” and more talk of universal human rights, respect and expectations that apply equally to all.

    Yet that could only be subversive to the reigning orthodoxy. In which, amongst all peoples and genders, white males are held to be uniquely evil. And all others are (to some degree) victimized by them.

    For in this morality play, to object to one’s assigned role as victim or victimizer can only be evidence that one is at best seriously delusional, and at worst taken as proof that the objector must be deeply, irredeemably guilty.

  43. Shawn T says

    This is the final construct of a one sided debate. The author has already conceded everything up to the final exclusionary point (which effectively ends discussion). State something as being a problem in need of dramatic gocernment solution: “Incarceration rates for black people are too high and must be reduced.” State a moral reason to the exclusion of any other as to why the probem exists: “Since they are black, it must be racism.” Obscure the problem with overly generalized, impossible or improbable solutions: “Change the system! Change sentencing guidelines for black people! More black cops. More black judges. Better education! Fight poverty! Commute their sentences!”; “Affirmative action.” When these solutions fail to produce the promised result, explain: “They would work, but only if WE control the levers of power to make it so. Only WE have the moral will and authority to make work.” Finally, when those who bought in thus far finally go back to re-examine the root problem or solutions, the declaration: “You do not have the moral right to even participate in solving this problem, you have been shrouded in white privilege and have no standing in the discussion.” Effectively ending debate and securing power – not for those with the supposed problem, but the morally righteous problem solvers. This is not exclusive to the modern left, but by many consolidating power throughout history. Once it is a case of moral standing to which those excluded happily agreed along the way, it is difficult to reverse. There are numerous current examples of debate ending moral constructs: “My Truth!”; “Anti-fascist”; “Hate speach”; “Speaking truth to power!”; “The science is settled.”; “Reproductive rights.” We have digressed to the point where the moral undepinnings are so deeply embedded, one word now shuts down any constructive discussion: Racist! Sexist! Misogynist! Socialist! (Yeah, both sides can do it!) Homophobe! Xenophobe! Fascist! The only reason any of these end debate is because a very large number of people agreed to the faulty moral arguments leading up to their use. Democrats have mastered the technique and deploy it now with every discussion about every issue. What we are seing now, as with this article, is those people who bought the underlying moral logic (the writer, thus far, still clings to these in many statements) finally questioning the last door-closing part of one sided moral debate. Once they begin to question the nature of the dabate itself (is this even a problem and if so, can it be solved through government or policy?) and agree to re-frame the discussion, then we can move forward politically and culturally. We obscure every policy discussion with cultural morality and end every discussion with debate ending declarations of moral standing. We must reject the moral debate-ender and continue unabashed and unashamed to put the focus on whether there is a problem, can it be solved with policy and how do we go about the solution. Don’t directly debate white privilege, debate the inderlying issues.

  44. David of Kirkland says

    Why not grumble about American privilege? Or Western privilege? Or human privilege? Think of the disadvantaged plants and animals and insects and fungi and bacteria….

  45. Daniel V says

    It’s interesting to look back at the direction the rhetoric of the left took in the decades since I proudly adopted the label Liberal to define my beliefs. I don’t disagree with any of it in theory, but in practice it’s a disaster. Simplest way I think I can describe it is to compare it to counter culture movements going mainstream or “selling out”.

    Privilege has always been something talked about in response to the idea of complete personal responsibility or pull up your boot strap narratives. Trump is a good example of the narrative when he claims he’s self made without much help. This in turn implies anyone failing is just lazy. It’s a damned old American narrative and it’s frankly crap.

    Which isn’t to say personal responsibility doesn’t play a role, because it does, but the problem comes back to see things in binary terms and arguing bootstrap pulling is the virtually the only factor at play. It’s not. Even with true tags to riches stories there are other factors to consider. I’m pretty sure there are no, or very very few, self made millionaires with 90 IQs. There really isn’t anything heroic or special about someone with an IQ higher than 99 percent of people making it in life.

    Being white can also be a privilege. Even more so if you’re somewhere people are very racist. Like parts of the American South. I can imagine when segregation laws were in effect it’d be a pretty big privilege at that.

    But this is where we run into the same problem we see with the boot strap narrative. The idea white privilege can explain everything. Instead of looking at the multitude of factors that lead someone to fail or suffer it’s boiled down to a single factor that is then hoisted up as something to fight against where once we remove it, poof, problem solved.

    It’s really no different than a libertarian blaming everything on the state, a new atheist blaming everything on religion, an evangelical blaming it on sin, a MRA blaming it on Feminism, a feminist blaming it on patriarchy, and so on. There is common narrative structure being shared between all of these groups, some of them in opposition to each other and even complaining about this very issue in the other, that needs to be the focus.

    It’s a question I think about quite a bit and I think it has to do with American culture. Ian McGilchrist was partly inspired to write his book the Divided Brain after starting work in America. He quickly learned his dry British humour was lost on most everyone he met. People seemed unable to see the forest for the trees or think of things as a gestalt.

    • Shawn T says

      Daniel. Enjoyed your comment, especially the “…libertatian blaming everything…” paragraph. I think one odd addition to “liberal” thinking as it has evolved is the insistance that government is the answer. How can you now run to “the man” thinking it is the best option to fix perceived problems? I would call myself more liberal in my younger days. Distrust of government benevolence. Rabid free speech (liberals used to defend the right of horrible people to say their horrible things so we could all see them as horrible!). Individual liberty. I’ve never cared who loves whom. Victimless crimes are victimless. Live and let live. On the flip side (contrary to my more libertarian impulses), I have always believed freedom more achievable when a strong military keeps threats in check. I haven’t changed much, but most of this has shifted now. I find the conservative side now home to many of those ideas.

      • Doug F says

        Shawn T – You and I feel a bit like brethren spirits. My politics have always leaned strongly libertarian but I also felt that one of the few important roles of the federal government was protecting our country and therefore could never vote libertarian because main stream libertarians were very much against defense spending.

        Now days a libertarian can only be appalled by the progressives, and although our basic concepts have stayed very consistent, we have been re-categorized as Nazi, women hating, alt-right.

    • Doug F says

      The thing is, the one place you actually have control is in the area of personal responsibility.

  46. de Droevig says

    “White privilege” is racist anti-white propaganda, pure & simple.
    There are many non-white groups that are far more privileged than whites here in the West.
    Academics routinely selectively vilify whites for privileges far more common in many non-white populations, populations which outperform whites by every relevant metric of human success (wealth, health outcomes, educational outcomes, strong ethnic networks, etc.).

  47. “White privilege” is racist anti-white propaganda.
    There are many groups here in the West that are far more privileged than whites.
    Nevertheless, Western academics routinely & selectively vilify whites for privileges common to many populations, even populations like East Asians, Indians & Jews (all non-white populations) which have better health outcomes, more wealth, better educational outcomes, & stronger ethnic networks than whites.
    “White privilege” is Cultural Marxist propaganda writ large, & pure ethnic warfare.

  48. Scott M says

    “Indeed, it’s possible that we will cause people to confuse a structural inequality that exists on the level of group average with the circumstances of every individual within a particular racial group.”

    It’s POSSIBLE??? It’s happening right now and it’s commonly referred to as bigotry.

  49. Morgan Foster says

    “True, police violence falls disproportionately on ethnic minorities, especially African Americans. But if you’re white and you’ve been abused by a police officer, your individual experience may be just as painful as that of a black person who’s suffered similar abuse.”

    It is wrong of the author to suggest here that whenever a police officer uses violence against a civilian, the civilian is being abused by the officer.

    In rare cases, that does happen. Rare, that is, in relation to the total number of acts of police-on-civilian violence.

    But in the vast majority of cases, when a police officer uses violence against a civilian – regardless of race – it is because that civilian has already committed an act of violence upon the officer, or another officer, or the civilian is trying to commit an act of violence against other civilians.

    Contrary to what many people believe, most police officers don’t enjoy getting banged up in a fight.

    • E. Olson says

      Morgan – please stop apologizing for violent cops. I’ve seen it on TV and in documentaries such as the Lethal Weapon and Die Hard, where renegade cops take real pleasure in beating up suspects, and almost always get into serious fire fights and other physical confrontations while taking down the bad guys, and yet they are always happily back at work the next day without a bruise or limp. Heck, even a few gunshot wounds only keeps them off duty for no more than 48 hours before they are back running down bad guys and beating out confessions.

      • Leon says

        Um, ‘Lethal Weapon’ and “Die Hard’ were documentaries? Really? Put the bong down!!

        • Gitte says

          I’m not sure which is more funny, E. Olson’s humorous comment or your inability to see it as such.

        • Gitte says

          Leon, I’m not sure which is more funny, E. Olson’s obviously humourous comment, or you taking it seriously.

    • Scott M says

      There is absolutely a place for violence in law enforcement. They are trained in the proper use of it and are supposed to employ at the appropriate level when necessary. Aside from that, the author did not imply that. You inferred it. The author explicitly used “abused”.

  50. B Nelson says

    I have news for this author. There in fact is a lot of “doubt that racial inequality is both real and persistent in the United States, where I live, and elsewhere. There is a sizable racial wealth gap, a life expectancy gap, and an incarceration gap. Many of America’s most pressing social problems disproportionately harm people from minority groups.” The most privileged people in this country right now are minorities. They obtain positions and “privileges” whether they deserve them or not. The sizeable wealth gap is due to the left’s “buying” the black vote with welfare (don’t deny it – LBJ said that’s what the Dems were going to do and that’s what they did – look up Brexit). The life expectancy gap is declining as we speak – for the first time since the turnoff the last century, life expectancy is declining. The incarceration gap is simply more minorities committing crimes. You can try to deny or explain all this away, blaming white people/privilege; but in the end, you have to spout nonsensical absurdities to do it. Neither you nor any other white person’s guilt will help minorities. The best thing you can do is leave them alone; let them live their own lives and go live yours.

  51. Aerth says

    Left uses “privilage” as sort of insult, something akin to stigma. Something one should be ashamed of having and perpetually apologize for it. So of course constantly screaming about it does not make poor black look better, because it is not that people think “oh, bad privilage, let’s give it to blacks for the sake of equality”. No, no one sane wants something bad for a group they think as already oppressed. Making one group look bad never makes other group look better.

  52. JProf says

    Excellent article! The problem with the concept of white privilege is that it doesn’t do any effective political work. In other words, pointing out white privilege and making sure that white people understand their privilege does not tell us what to do to combat racial disparities and discrimination. In this way, it’s almost a perverse reinforcement of the status quo, where white privilege is the norm.

  53. Trell says

    I benefit greatly from height privilege though nobody seems to talk about that one. Should people be aware of subconscious bias against short people? Perhaps. If they aware of it and they acted in a fairer way, I think it’s beneficial. I feel the same way about white privilege.

  54. Nakatomi Plaza says

    Whites have been the dominant culture in America since its inception. Whites have comprised a vast majority of the population and been at the center of most cultural events. Of course whites have benefited from this historically. It would be shocking if this weren’t the case. Would anybody go to Mexico and be shocked that people who look and behave like an average Mexican have a cultural advantage? In Sweden? In Mozambique? This is a human tendency we should resist, but this is hardly a political issue.

    Americans, and the left in particular, have terrible habit of ignoring the obvious and attributing everything to our ideological peculiarities.

  55. Andrew Miller says

    People can play he said she said games about whether any person/group are people are really ‘privileged’, but it misses what is the most important point is that it’s an incredibly flawed theory and a terrible way of looking at injustice. The endless pointless arguments, oppression olympics and narcissism we constantly see is the entirely logical outcome of the theory.
    Refuting it be saying I are really privileged and here’s why is a losers game. The point should be to reject ‘privilege’ as a lens through which to see the world.

  56. Pingback: Teaching ‘White Privilege’ Doesn’t Accomplish What You Think | TrumpsMinutemen

  57. Rex Savage says

    White privilege is a con to extract money from one group and redistribute to others who’ve done nothing to earn it.
    Nothing more.

  58. Sandman says

    “Inequality” is an abused term in need of better definition and usage. The underlying inference for many liberal activists and academics is that the target group is being treated as less than an equal by other, presumably more dominant groups. In other words, the mere fact of disparate outcomes is itself prima facie evidence of discrimination.

    The usage of “income inequality” is also intended to convey the idea that a wide distribution of income is evidence of a societal disfunction in need of address. And further, that it exists as a result of misconduct, ulterior actions, discrimination, or worse.

    These subtle and not so subtly intended assumptions all have Marxist ideological origins, and the supposed solutions to these presumed social ills are all Marxist as well. Having been discredited decades ago as a failed ideology on its own merits, it nonetheless survives and thrives today, having taken on a cloak of subterfuge, the Orwellian twisting of words and meanings, and outright deception.

  59. John Lydon says

    Please explain in detail and provide statistical evidence, what is meant by the following in your article: “high maternal mortality rates among black women and how it may be linked to inadequate cultural competence among medical staff.” As a health care physician who has cared for pregnant women of all colors, shapes, and sizes for over 30 years, and has treated them all guided by the ‘mother test’ (ie, treating them all like they were my mother), this phrase is nothing but gobbledegook of the highest order. And the fact is that the maternal mortality rate in this country is nothing short of remarkable (around 1-2 deaths per 10,000 patients), considering the increasing co-morbidities that parturients present with for maternal care ( drug addiction, lack of prenatal care, advanced maternal age, accompanying infectious diseases, etc, etc). Yes, any maternal death is regrettable, but not surprising considering the brave new world in which we find ourselves. However, in my humble opinion I don’t think that any perceived increase in black female maternal mortality, if it even exists, can be attributed to “cultural incompetence among the medical staff.” Dig a little deeper, my friend, and do some real journalism.

  60. Lightning Rose says

    The error of progressive thought is utopian thinking. Here, the idea that the world can somehow be “leveled” so everyone has the same IQ, same health, same longevity, same income, same life circumstance. When slapped down on the page like this, can everyone see how absurd this is?
    Their hangup with “fairness” is so infantile I sometimes wonder if they all were picked last for dodge-ball!

    “Income inequality” is actually NewSpeak code for “I’m seething green with envy because people who spent their lives industriously and took risks (who may or may not have had advantages of birth) have way more money than me. Why do they deserve it and I don’t? Therefore, we should take theirs away and give it to me! Even though I’ve squandered what advantages I have and have done squat to earn any myself. I’m a VICTIM!”

    Want to stop these fools dead in their tracks? When they’re deep into their de Blasio-esque rants, just say, “OK, so your son the neurosurgeon, who spent 22 years in school, graduated two hundred grand in the hole, but who’s now making a nice 6-figure income should have no problem keeping, oh I don’t know, say 30 grand and the rest can be seized by the Government for redistribution to a dozen meth-heads, illegal aliens, jailed felons and homeless schizophrenics.
    And you’d be fine with that. Got it!”

    They turn red and speechless, and will flee blindly to the bar for a refill; unfortunately not a refill of logic or reality.

  61. H taringsworth says

    If Peggy McIntosh (who was VERY privileged) is still alive, the parents/spouse/children of white suicide victims should sue her for encouraging white suicides.

    When the media and dominant culture keep saying “white bad” and “male bad” it is no surprise some whites and especially white males think the world would be better without them.

  62. Henry Miller says

    As a white guy, I’m all for “white privilege,” and I expect a large percentage of whites agree with me, whether they’ll admit it or not.

    Face it: whites drove the building of this country. Yes, we murdered, and were murdered by, the Indians whose land we were stealing, but there were more of us than them and we had better weapons so we won. We enslaved blacks and basically reduced then to the role of domestic animals–but no one is running around demanding “reparations” for the descendants of “enslaved” horses and oxen.

    Conquest and slavery have been the rule for all of recorded human history. Angles and Saxons drove the Celts out of a lot of England–and were in turn defeated by the Normans in 1066. Most of Europe was conquered by someone at one time or another. By that standard, what we did in North America wasn’t even slightly unusual.

    To the victors belong the spoils

  63. Ralph says

    “When activists and academics invoke the phrase “white privilege,” they typically are speaking of advantages that whites, on average, have over members of other ethnic minority groups in our society.”

    Many of the advantages that these activists and academics point to can actually be attributed to majority privilege, which is hardly a uniquely white phenomenon.

  64. Ralph says

    “And there is no doubt that racial inequality is both real and persistent in the United States, where I live, and elsewhere. There is a sizable racial wealth gap, a life expectancy gap, and an incarceration gap.”

    Shock! Diverse societies tend to exhibit diversity of outcomes between groups.

  65. Snuffy D says

    Post modernists believe that you don’t have an individual identity, that your fundamental identity is group-fostered. And that means that you’re basically an exemplar of your race: hence white privilege. Or you’re an exemplar of your gender, or your sex, or your ethnicity. Or, you’re an exemplar of however you can be classified so that you are placed in the position of victim against the oppressor. It’s really just a word game; the old Marxist notion that the world is a battleground between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, where everyone must be labeled as one or the other.

  66. Really? says

    One of the traps that has essentially paralyzed the social studies (yes, I can’t bring myself to use the word ‘sciences’) is the use of trivialized models. The thesis of the article is not only sound, it should be a clear warning that the labels used in the trivialized and pressurized (by financially and power-brokering interested parties) is not merely broken but invidious.

    Skin color has no impact on a human’s ability to think and process… but culture, parenting and education do. African immigrants do not have the same outcomes as urbanized people with the same skin color… but there is little or no research’ on why that is or what the differences are… because they will definitely not fit the ‘narrative’.

    The existence and nurturing of the pressurized ‘narrative’ is what has stripped the social studies faculties of most educational outlets of their right to use the word science as a descriptor. Ignoring inconvenient evidence and bleating the platitudes of the powerful is the exact opposite of what tenure was supposed to support… but here we are.

    By the way… Quillette is the first ray of hope in a very long drought of actual critical thinking. I hope very much for your success and preeminence, I am concerned for your survival at the hands of the ‘social justice’ (what lovely Orwellian doublespeak that has been shown to be) mob. They are getting restless and hungry and your ability to question in a rational, thoughtful and critical way surely must put you at the top of the list… bon chance.

  67. phil stacy says

    If Africans were more intelligent than whites their behavior would be different and they would be interested in more abstract things rather than immediate physical reality. Highly intelligent Africans would be more successful, respected and envied. If Africans were on average less intelligent than whites they would not fit into white civilization which is the accumulated achievements of genius. Africans have talents different from whites so they are a poor fit for white civilization. What is called racism is mostly the rejection of unintelligent behavior. America is like a library on how to successful but it requires intelligence to read and apply the knowledge. Some third world races have access to the library but have less successful civilizations. The false assumption of equality results in a focus on appearances rather than behavior which is real racism.

    • Max York says

      “What is called racism is mostly the rejection of unintelligent behavior.”
      What a brilliant insight and synopsis. I truly mean that.

  68. Deserttrek says

    no such thing as white privilege
    no such thing as more than two genders or hyphenated people
    to think otherwise is mental illness

  69. Luke says

    Anyone blaming their problems on White privilege is fuckin dipshit loser.

  70. John says

    There is no racial wealth gap. Look at the outcomes for black immigrants and their children. There median income is nearly the same as white Americans and only gets better the longer their families are in the country.

    What are the actual reasons for the gap? Decades of bad policy (Great Society, War on Drugs, etc) and a victim-hood narrative that just won’t die.

    At this point continually telling millions of people that they are persecuted, doomed to fail, and everyone hates them is psychological abuse. The only reason it persists is that one side of the political establishment needs a near monopoly of black voters to keep themselves in power. It’s repulsive and deeply harmful to the entire country.

  71. man says

    You must build gulags and deport many people to those gulag for reeducation.
    You must launch wave of Bolshevik terror against all opponents of progressive, 5 year program.
    You must implement merciless Marxism.
    All differences must be eliminated using science.
    Blacks have to be turned into whites, and whites into blacks using genetic engineering. We must erase all sense of ethnic identity.
    No mercy must be shown to anybody .
    We must have total feeling of terror equal in everybody.

  72. Comrade Lenin says

    To fix problem of inequality, you must launch wave of Bolshevik terror. You must build gulag and deport many millions of political enemies to gulag for reeducation. You must reconstruct society in most ruthless way. You must have regular purges of all political enemies. This is done during Politburo meeting when one comrade suddenly occurs another comrade of wanting to be better. Until then, you are only talking garbage. If you want to be real marxist, you must be very nasty and intolerant and you must obliterate all enemies of progressive Green New Deal by any means necessary. This is true Marxist approach to better society.

    • Jerry Place says

      This is just silly. The best way to ameliorate inequality is through the Federal tax code. No gulags or re-education required.

  73. Anon says

    The essence of ‘white privilege’ is original sin. The sin being an immutable trait (skin color) for which an entire group is assigned historic guilt with no recognition of the individual. In essence the foundation of the claim is racist.

  74. Douglas B. Levene says

    “True, police violence falls disproportionately on ethnic minorities, especially African Americans.” Disproportionately to what? Not to the rates of crime committed by African Americans.

  75. Donnerhauser says

    This article largely summarises my own views. It was noted years ago that privilege theory actually lacked any useful explanatory power. I mean all white privilege says is “your life isn’t as bad as a black or brown person’s, all things equal”. Ok, great. I’m sure most people knew that? It doesn’t help. I’m sure a poor person’s life in Mexico isn’t as bad as a North Koreans, guess Mexicans better check their privilege.

    Not to mention most of white privilege is a baseline of what people would expect e.g not be poor. Getting rid of racism wouldn’t change white people’s circumstances that much and could possibly even improve them. Indeed it’s not clear how it is relevant to me – it’s not like white people or men get handouts on account of that, though one tends to find advocates of white privilege tend to flip flop between “privilege as lack of detriment” and “privilege as conveying a benefit” as they desire.

    And the problem is when you add intersectionality into the mix – as much as “oppression Olympics” is derided, it’s a genuine challenge. Who is more oppressed; a lesbian white trans working class trans woman in Alabama or a wealthy black Swede with serious mental health disorders? That’s a genuine question by the way, yet it is unanswerable. It’s like saying “let’s compare the suffering of slaves in the antebellum US to prisoners in the Soviet gulags!”. It’s just stupid, as Andrew Miller observes.

    Privilege theory wouldn’t be so objectionably if it weren’t using such bad language – most people would agree black people are more likely to be shot than whites, yet by using privilege you turn it into an attack, since privilege normally has very negative connotations of elitism and active benefit as the expense of someone else. White privilege doesn’t have that.

    It’s also incomplete – do we have beauty privilege? Strength privilege? Intelligence privilege? Given the way things are going I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if someone tries to advocate this (I have seen efforts but they are few and far between, thank god). What about things like majority-opinion privilege – I often hang around leftists and am reluctant to get into arguments due it being so one-sided (it’s usually me versus several others), so arguably they have privilege, the privilege of being able to express their views without fear of consequence. Yet I don’t see many bringing that up.

    What’s notable is it is mostly used as a means of political signalling; some of the strongest privilege advocates I know of have been middle class (and upwards), educated, straight, cisgendered, white men. As far as I can tell it is mostly used for ideological signalling; none of them are giving up their backgrounds to live amongst the poor. It’s like the middle-class students who become communists. Indeed I have even heard it could be used to demark class boundaries and ensure only people of proper breeding are allowed into certain social circles. Certainly when I hear these people decry “straight white men” they aren’t talking about themselves. Straight white men is code for a certain group of people, generally those opposed to leftist politics.

    So I tend to find privilege is mostly used as a weapon – people are denounced as privileged as a means of criticising their argument. It’s essentially no different to arguing someone is wrong because they are Jewish or a communist. I was unsurprised to find invoking white privilege reduced empathy for poor whites (while doing nothing to help poor blacks).

    And ultimately, as the author notes, it tends to flatten the world and human experience. I was unsurprised to find privilege theory was of American origin, because when I saw it being used to describe other countries it proved inadequate (Europeans are all white, for example, but there are lots of nasty ethnic conflicts and prejudices amongst them). And as Daniel V observed, it is just used as counter to the bootstrap narrative to imply that a person’s success was undeserved (people say they don’t mean that but that’s all I can see them implying, since my privilege did not confer any special benefit, only lack of a detriment. I still had to work for what I had). It strikes me as the politics of resentment in many ways. Nietzsche was on to something.

  76. The left’s War of White People will not end well.

    Whites had better get smart, prepare for civil war, or be savaged.

    • DEEBEE says

      Not sure lefts use of color as an axis to explain society deserve your use of the same. If it is abhorrent in one case it does not cease to be so in the other. But then I am just a brownie “real” Indian, who leaves other average 122K making Indiana’s way behind. WTF do I know?

  77. squirefld says

    The liberals over the years have promised so much, to earn the black vote, yet they have only delivered trinkets. How do you explain to the black community that it’s not your (liberals) fault their life hasn’t improved? The liberal progressive invented “white privilege” as the answer to mask their failure to deliver a middle class lifestyle through welfare. Yes, this allows them to continue to blame their failures on “whitey.”

  78. Le_Zabroso says

    I live in blue collar country

    we all have acres of land
    we know how to fix things
    we know how to win
    because we made our selves
    we build it, we grow it, we mange it, we fight for it, we fix it, we keep it running
    we keep your soy world going
    we take out the trash
    you need us more than we need your vacuous
    self centered mental cud chewing and demands
    for contrition and self sacrifice

    the strong win because nature wills it thus
    and we are strong

  79. Loran Tritter says

    Speaking as an upper class, white American, I am offended that a pathetic, middle-class worker bee claims “white privilege”. I have spent my whole lifetime attaining the appropriate accent, taste, education, et.al. I was born with white skin and blonde hair.

  80. An Individual says

    The most destructive logic pattern in history is group identity based on race. We should think in terms of individuals. Group identity is the way government controls the masses—working people up into frenzies of hatred and class war to turn out the vote and to garner power to”fix” things. We should base scholarships on wealth, not race. Help the poor, the uneducated, the abused, without bringing it back to race.

    Democrats’ primary tactic of most of US histry has been to stir up racial hatred in order to keep 90% of the black vote and big majorities of others. If racism died in the US, Democrats would be the losing party, and so they will continue to lie and deceive, and do everything in all the power they can take, to keep racism alive. They are disgusting.

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  82. DBruce says

    Ladies used to swoon when Henry George explained inequality.

  83. Bruno Van says

    “There is a sizable racial wealth gap, a life expectancy gap, and an incarceration gap. Many of America’s most pressing social problems disproportionately harm people from minority groups.”

    The simplistic explanation for these discrepancies (favored by Gramscian Leftists and their self abasing “white allies”) is racism, and only racism.

    Perhaps there are multiple causes, some whose solutions are easier than the mass indoctrination of white’s in”Critical Race Theory”.

    The elimination of the education “achievement gap” demonstrated in NYC by the Success Academy Charter School System offers a case in point.

    They “…serve 17,000 mostly low-income children of color who are outperforming the most affluent schools and districts in the city and state.”

    “Success Academy schools outperform wealthy suburbs, where the average income is six times that of Success Academy families.”

    Of 8th grade students, who took math and reading exams; “…91 percent of 6,800 mostly black and Hispanic kids who took the test were proficient in English and 98 percent of them passed math,”

    The performance of NYC public school children taking the same exams resulted in 47% and 43% pass rate in English and Math.

    The scores of Public school Black and Hispanic students were significantly worse.

    Success Academy receives the same funding and draws students from the same pool of low income inner city children, a significant majority who are Black and Hispanic.

    There is no evidence that Success’s teaching staff perform daily “privilege walks” or commit the writings of Ta-Nehisi Coates to memory.

    Perhaps the world is not flat afterall?

  84. Indie Wifey says

    History of the Western world aside, the forward catapulting of myriad societies aside, we’ve just endured (enjoyed?) decades of self-help, self-awareness, self esteem, self empowerment campaigns only to now be force fed this big, fat Never mind. It’s hilarious, this insidious cultural Slinky, which winds up over and backwards on itself as it – still – inches forward, little by Darwinian little.

    As I see it, we’re on the backward curve of the current loop, as the minions n masses try desperately to figure out what to do with all their spare time and energies. Social media, free time’s devouring serpent, has fostered this din, where negativity and self-flagellation gives ordinary, trend-susceptible humans something to do that, per this trend, lets them think – and those they think they are serving – they are better for it. For most, it’s click n quip activism, as meanwhile, the ordinary struggles of life carry one on.

    I look forward to the resurrection of success, not failure and blame gaming, as the path and marker of accomplishment vis a vis sum of deeds aka Self

  85. Max York says

    I didn’t get where I am by “white privilege.” I served in the military, and I worked blue collar jobs to get the money for college. Notwithstanding, I also had to take educational loans, which took ten years to pay off. Of course, a SJW would say that because I had parents who emphasized the importance of education, and who didn’t shoot up or shoot at other people, or rape or rob them, and who supported their families, I am “privileged.” Note, please, that these were cultural standards. QUERY: If meeting such standards is “privilege”, why can’t the “oppressed” seem to meet such standards, and become “privileged” too?

  86. Tim Mougenot says

    According to IRS statistics, white tax filers have the ‘privilege’ of paying 87% of all taxes collected, while they are now, roughly, only 70% of the population.

  87. Swami says

    “Privilege” is a motte and bailey term with two distinct meanings which those using it pivot back and forth between.

    The first meaning is synonymous with “advantage”. This definition is fairly neutral. “She is privileged with great beauty and intelligence.”

    The second meaning is synonymous with biased and unfair rules which “privilege” some at the expense of others. It is thus implicitly exploitative. It is rooted in the (Latin?) term for private law.

    When social justice warriors use the term they specifically mean to imply the latter definition, yet, when pushed they pretend that they just mean the former.

    One can do the same thing with the polar opposite term “handicapped”. It too has two definitions, the first is an innocuous definition of a disadvantage. She was handicapped with an uncaring mother who never read to her.

    The second meaning of handicapped implies an innate deficiency of some type. Mentally deficient, and fundamentally broken or less capable.

    Now, it is socially acceptable to say that Blacks or Hispanics are “disadvantaged” in some way or another in the US. But if anyone said they are “handicapped” we would all be outraged, and we would never let someone hide behind the innocuous definition of the word. It is simply impolite and intentionally mean to call a group of people or even worse an individual “handicapped”.

    The same is true of “privilege” it is simply a way of throwing out an insult and pretending you aren’t doing so.

  88. Allison says

    “Whites in America tend (on average) to be more culturally individualistic, while those from other groups tend (again, on average) to exhibit more collectivist social values.” This line really struck me. I’m white and to me, it explains why I don’t see eye to eye with certain minorities. I keep insisting our individual problems should be solved by individuals. I hate to claim ANY victim status. That’s not how other people see it.

  89. Tom USA says

    White privilege is a shaming tool. Functionally this is used to shame and blame conscientious young men. Endless impositions of social justice sexism or racism is what follows the successful application of the white privilege shaming tool.

  90. Jerry Place says

    It’s very clear to me that too any of the posters to this article do not understand white privilege (WP) as delineated by Peggy McIntosh [https://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/mcintosh.pdf] nor have they ever read her work.

    It would be an interesting exercise for posters that vehemently deny the existence of WP to read Ms. McIntosh’s original paper and then re-think their attitudes. WP does not mean that you are not self-made; that you have not overcome long odds; that you were “given” everything that you have, rather WP means that there are differences in perception that helped make your way easier because of the color of your skin.

    “I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools , and blank checks.”

    • CompSci says

      And as I’ve noted, the privilege you speak about is not a privilege if it is earned. And it is indeed earned. If not by the individual, then by the collective. i admit to not reading the above reference, but not to being ignorant of the terms’ common usage. And that is pretty much what I see others referring to. i’ve heard countless enough times “white privilege” being used to describe how it is a White person got something a deserving POC would have gotten except for such privilege. Sometimes, that’s just referring to respect—like a cop approaching a stopped vehicle with his hand on his gun. Other times it’s little more than a description of AA in reverse. Always it’s an excuse and an ignoring of data and statistics and a completely subjective view of the situation that I and any number of others who are White don’t share.

      Interesting how every other week, some minority group or another is insulted by something or another and immediately the dominate majority Whites need to change their attitude and perceptions and especially, their terminology. But a despicable concept and terminology such as “White Privilege” can be bandied about since the 80’s (?) and Whites are told to just “deal” with it.

      Well, this “Whitey” “don’t play that game”!

      • Jerry Place says

        ” i admit to not reading the above reference [to Peggy McIntosh’s original article about white privilege]”. So read the article. Then I’d like to hear what you think.

        • CompSci says

          Nope, like I said. I refer to the context normally used for this concept. Heard it via lecture and interview from the grifters and race pimps multiple times. Just like the big stink when the word “niggardly” was used in speech correctly a few years back, I’m simply going to protest the very use of the concept and refuse to allow you to whitewash the term. Folks are no longer going to put up with this PC crap.

        • Asenath Waite says

          @Jerry Place

          I’ve read that article before. Almost all of the examples she lists are either just false, not actually privileges, or the unavoidable consequences of being in a majority group vs. a minority group in any society.

  91. JP says

    My German grandmother said she once saw a Jew who were treated well by the Nazis. For this reason I believe the holocaust was a hoax. Oh, and since I have a white cousin who once was fired from her job at Ebony magazine there is no such thing as White Privilege. Exception bias, anyone?

  92. Max York says

    A man’s character is his fate.—Heraclitus.
    Every loser has his excuse.—Jon Blair.

  93. Max York says

    When you subsidize a behavior, you get more of it.
    Subsidizing includes more than making a wealth transfer in cash terms.
    Subsidizing also includes the removal of costs for undesirable behavior, including withdrawal of legal consequences.
    Wealth transfers are claimed by some to be a “right.”
    Allowing those who engage in undesirable behavior to experience the consequences is a “wrong.” It has a name: racism.

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  99. Jay B. Terclinger says

    I have not read this whole essay, so if the excerpt I am about to briefly comment on has been addressed, my apologies.

    but re

    “…There is a sizable racial wealth gap, a life expectancy gap, and an incarceration gap. Many of America’s most pressing social problems disproportionately harm people from minority groups.”

    It is virtually impossible for a black man with the same qualifications to not get the the same job offered to a white man due to discrimination, as lawsuits would fly.

    As for life expectancy, I live on the border of a ghetto neighborhood in a major city and I see what the majority of non-white people buy in the store. GARBAGE. They see the same doctors I do, watch the same videos in the clinic waiting room about eating whole grains and vegetables and exercising, and yet the obesity rate is astounding. As for incarceration, if you dont want so many of your people going to jail, STOP THEM FROM COMMITTING CRIMES.

  100. Jay B. Terclinger says

    PS – The entire concept of white privilege is MARXIST GARBAGE. It is intersectionalist code speak for exterminating theJudeo-Christian Capitalist West. Stop playing their game.

  101. James Joyce says

    Ideas like white privilege are why I became totally disillusioned with left wing politics.

    I grew up in a dysfunctional family in a working class neighborhood. My father was a abusive alcoholic who eventually left my mother to raise 6 kids on her own. I’ve been very fortunate in my life but it is infuriating to hear people equate white privilege with all the advantages a person could have in life. It is especially frustrating to hear people who I know grew up in far more auspicious circumstances talk about it in that way.

    For example, the 2017 Women’s March (or at least the one that happened in my city) encouraged participants not to do any shopping on the day of the march (not sure why, some vague anti-capitalist message maybe) but it included the caveat that it was okay to shop at stores owned by “people of color”, now if my mother had been “privileged” enough to own a business, the organizers of this women’s march would be advocating a boycott of a store owned by a struggling single mother of 6 because of her ethnicity. It amazes me that more people didn’t see a problem with this.

  102. GRPalmer says

    So they are asking me to apologise for the my superiority of my race because my ancestors invented the steam engine because that is what created the industrial revolution and everything that followed which raised the standard of living for all the rest of the world.

    So ok if you insist, I admit white guys aka cis gender males are superior to everyone because we did stuff everyone else could have but did not even when they were the richest, most powerful cultures on Earth at the time we were living in mud huts so to speak. just asking.

  103. artichoke says

    (discussing the prevalence of males over females in prisons) But does that then mean we should be discussing “female privilege”? Would it be beneficial to the men behind bars for women to proclaim awareness of their “privileged” status?

    Well actually yes. This is why some liberals are stepping away from the “privilege” argument or trying to hem it in with more qualifications. The conservatives are starting to use the method and to use it away from liberal control.

    So absolutely yes, we should be discussing female privilege, Asian privilege, black privilege, tall privilege, all those things that exist at least in certain situations. Don’t ignore this discourse, use it!

  104. Jerjapan says

    Not sure if I agree with artichoke’s purpose in discussing privilege, but I agree strongly with the premise – discuss all forms of privilege. That’s what I do in my diverse high school classes – and the concept, in a nuanced approach, has been of high interest and tremendous value to my students – regardless of their ‘privilege’ or ideology.

    Personally, I think a middle-class black family will have more ‘privilege’ than a poor white one. But if all else is equal and the only different variable between these two families is race, than most likely white privilege is a factor.

    The poor woman cited at the top of the article is an excellent example of a white person who may be privileged in class terms, but in terms of life circumstance, she has clearly been dealt a devastating hand, and hers is an ‘invisible’ challenge. Which factors are more significant?

    Privilege is a valuable concept for anyone, regardless of political ideology, but it needs to be used as simply another concept for understanding society, not as some sort of objective, definitive concept.

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