5 Dec 2016

Confusing Social Concepts: White Privilege


(I originally posted this article on my other blog, The Bamboo Post, but I thought I should post it here too because it is a sociological topic.)

Society is such a complex thing. There are so many factors that go into social issues, and many times these factors are not discussed. Journalists and social commentators tend to throw terms (concepts) around to try to explain issues, but often times, viewers don’t know what the terms mean. As well, some of these same people don’t explore the terms deeply, while some misconstrue the terms so that it will fit their agenda.

So for today, I am going to discuss White Privilege, a term that (it would seem) not many people understand, and is misconstrued a lot.

First off, what is White Privilege?

The University of Dayton website defines White Privilege as:

“A right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by white persons beyond the common advantage of all others; an exemption in many particular cases from certain burdens or liabilities.”

Many (mainly conservatives) argue against White Privilege by saying:

“Oh, white privilege is not real because I’ve had to struggle and work hard to get to where I am today.”

or

“Racism doesn’t exist in North America anymore.”

or

‘I never owned slaves or colonized anyone, so I don’t benefit from White Privilege.”

(And there are so many other things that they say.)

But the thing is, racism is still very much alive, and even if you (or family) didn’t own slaves, you still benefit from it just for being white because of the ‘race’ hierarchy that colonization created. And as for the first argument, yeah, you probably did work very hard to get to where you are. But white privilege is much bigger than one’s financial success.

Here are some examples of things that non-whites experience:

- Non-white races are still prejudged and discriminated against based on their skin color.

- Schools, places of work, and law enforcement still use racial stereotypes to prejudge non-white people.

- People of color are underrepresented in the media. And sometimes, ethnic roles are given to white actors.

- Non-whites have certain fears that whites have never (or rarely) feel. An example is fearing that police or security will give us a hard time or possibly physically harming us just because of our skin color.

- White people are never viewed as terrorists.

- Violent white criminals get handcuffed and arrested by police, while violent black criminals get beat, shot, and killed by police.

- Schools teach white history year round, while non-white history gets taught during special months.

And all of this occurs because of systemic racism, which is defined by the University of Calgary website as: “the policies and practices entrenched in established institutions, which result in the exclusion or promotion of designated groups.”

White privilege is real, and the quicker you realize it is, the quicker you’ll be able to help end it.

If you want to learn more about this, check out the following articles/blog posts:

“Explaining White Privilege To A Broke White Person…” (http://occupywallstreet.net/story/explaining-white-privilege-broke-white-person)

“What Exactly Is White Privilege? Here Are 7 Examples” (http://www.care2.com/causes/what-exactly-is-white-privilege-here-are-7-examples.html)

“Tim Wise on Whiteness and the Historical Trick of Racial Privilege” (http://www.timwise.org/2014/12/tim-wise-on-whiteness-and-the-historical-trick-of-racial-privilege/)

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