I am a white male 47 years old and I suffer from White privilege. I mean, I really suffer. It irks me to no end to hear all about the white privilege. Oh, I understand it, I see it and I certainly can understand why honest hard working people of color, (blacks and latinos primarily) have a problem with it. It isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that my parents were not rich. Were I able to start off life with a couple of million dollars, man, I’d be really wealthy right now. But my parents were middle class, my Dad and Mom both rose up from pretty low stations.
The argument is that because they were white it was much easier for them to move out of that situation. Maybe so, but many of the mexican boys my father went to school with have achieved far more success than my father with all his privilege was able to attain. WHY is that. Well my father may tell you it was because they had a good idea, worked hard, and became successful. The American way.
Life is not fair, never has been and never will be. In fact, it is terribly unfair. As much as it sucks not being born rich, I imagine it sucks to be born black in America. But really, would it be better to be born black in Africa? Maybe if you were born to a rich or powerful family or something. Otherwise, I suspect it might suck like most Americans could never imagine. So yeah, I am happy with my American Privilege.
Let me say that first of all I am not a racist. I do not think any “race” is inherently better than another. I have had very good dealings with people from all races: black, japanese, vietnamese, mexican, puerto rican, I have found friends from all these races and cultures. I do not thinks all cultures are equal though, I may be biased.
So I could be said to be a culturalist, I think that my white, middle class, Christian, American culture is better than other cultures I have been in contact with. I think it is better than white, middle class, secular, european culture. I think it is Far Far better than middle eastern, any income level, muslim, Arab, Persian, or Turkish culture.
I also think that my culture is better than white, upper class, liberal, american OR black, lower class, ghetto american. I have yet to be convinced otherwise.
So even saying that I value my own culture above others, does not mean that I think that individuals from those other cultures are “bad” or that I might not find good in their cultural practices. But of course, familiarity equates to comfort.
Yes, I am as well. To say that you are not prejudiced is to either lie, or to leave yourself so vulnerable as to probably not count towards that statistic very long. Prejudices keep us alive. I pre-judge based on information I collect, both from my own observation as well as the words of those we trust. This is where the problems come in. When we trust people to tell us how we should interact with other cultures, rather than learning the truth, we internalize their biases and build on them. These biases can be broken down, as evidenced by people like Daryl Davis, actively working to break down barriers, but they must be broken down by work.
I know where not to go in my town. Places where my white skin would raise attention and get me in trouble. When I walk into a convenience store and there are a number of black males with their pants around their knees and hats on sideways, I am on high alert. That same store filled with camo wearing rednecks, offers no fear to me, but might have a similar effect on a black man. Perhaps at some point in his past he was intimidated or victimized by rednecks. I may know that those rednecks go my church, would probably go out of their way to be friendly and helpful, but that man can only go by the prejudicial thought process that keeps him safe.
I pass a carload of young black people broken down on the side of the road, too bad. I dislike the culture, the coarseness, the loudness, the inability to speak english that I can understand. By the same token, an older black couple, dressed what I think of as normal. I will stop and help. What can I say, I am prejudiced.
I think everyone should have the privilege to attempt to attain their dreams. There are roadblocks for all of us. I could argue that there is black privilege in athletics. I wasn’t even allowed to tryout for some sports because I was a skinny white guy. It can be shown that jews, as a race, are far more over-represented in achievement, education, and cultural power. Should I be fighting jewish privilege as well?
The problem with trying to explain the failure of a minority to achieve goals promulgated by another class/race/culture is complex, and just trying to combat the inequities by assuming the majority holds all the cards is simply wrongheaded. To assume that the majority should shoulder all the responsibility for the social injustice that is “apparently” the only reason for minorities not achieving their life’s goals, is foolishness perpetuated by people whom I don’t feel really have the best interest of these minorities at heart anyway.
Some say the definition of “Crazy” is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Thus a sane person does the same thing over and over, and expects the same result. Thus sane people learn from their observations. I absolutely abhor the idea of “Stop and Frisk” I cannot believe that we allow this unconstitutional act to continue in America. I am not alone in this and funny, (not) but people of color are often targeted far more often than white people. NYPD’s defense? From an article in the New Yorker:
“Defending the fact that close to nine in ten of the people stopped under the program in 2011 and 2012 were black or Hispanic, the city pointed out that “approximately 83% of all known crime suspects and approximately 90% of all violent crime suspects were Black and Hispanic.” Based on their analysis, Smith and Purtell argued that the city wasn’t racial profiling. Rather, they argued, the disproportionate stopping and frisking of blacks and Hispanics could be attributed to the disproportionate number of black and Hispanic people in the pool of criminals and potential criminals.”
What we are seeing is the police using their “tool” to target the races they have found most commonly involved in crime. Statistics and all of that aside, perhaps we are seeing a cultural problem within the minority. I have watched a number of videos by David Carroll and I am pretty sure he dislikes white folks. But I am interested in his fairly critical examination of his own culture. If black people listened to him, learned from him, and examined their own culture and turned their lives inward towards bettering their culture, I suspect a lot of things would change.
It is funny, I grew up in west Texas without being prejudiced against black people (there weren’t many). They were culturally much more like me than the Mexicans, mostly being army brats from Fort Bliss. Not that I didn’t have mexican friends, two out of three of my best friends were mexican, One the son of a doctor, the other the son of a laborer. Both spoke perfect English, were interested in the stuff I was interested in, and dressed and acted in ways similar to us. I didn’t have any close black friends, none lived close enough to see easily after school. But I was certainly prejudiced towards mexicans. I had my stuff stolen by mexicans, I was extorted, by mexicans, I was intimidated and pushed around by mexicans. If your were a mexican in a pair of chinos, a white t-shirt and had a bandanna, I kept my distance and my eye on you.
So when we moved to the deep south during my freshman year of high school. I was deeply disappointed to find myself the subject of prejudice. I sat by and had a number of blacks, male and female in my classes, and made open overtures of friendship as I was new in the school. I was outright rejected by most of the black males (all but one) and a few black females. I didn’t realize at the time I was the subject of prejudice or racism, but I know now. The worst part was that these blacks were as culturally similar to me as I would ever to be likely to find again in the South.
But I have seen a change in my area. It started after I was in college. It was not for the better. Rather than things getting better, I saw things getting worse. I saw more of a divide coming between Black and White. I cannot say that some of it was not a result of white racist assholes. I obviously would not be privy to much of that, but I saw it more and more the other way. I saw more and more affluent black people who had an obvious disdain for white people. I saw more and more cultural change in my area, away from the culture that I am familiar and comfortable with, to something I didn’t understand, and didn’t like. Much of this was due to the influx of people moving south after the Auto Industry had such an upset in the late ’80’s. This influx of a street culture that wasn’t present in the South, has had terrible effects with regard to race relations. More and more crime resulted, whether from simply the increase in population or the change in culture I don’t know, but statistics aside, it was widely perceived to be due to the increase in the minority population.
It is wrong for to be targeted due to your race. But if we had a rash of young, blonde, women, suicide bombers killing innocent women and children, you can bet people would look at young blonde women a bit different. Perhaps sideways watching them for any signs of crazy, or big heavy bags, or heavy coats in the summer. That is human nature. But until that happens it will be sideways looks at dark skinned or foreign looking men.
Prejudice will never go away. We will always judge a culture by the actions of those of that culture that most effect ourselves. Yes, it is probably wrong to judge all of one class, race, or culture based on the actions of a few, but it may be necessary to maintain the safety of yourself and your family.