Sometimes I feel that talking with people about race is almost pointless. The problem I find is that people are so entrenched in this thinking that there is no problem and that black people are just complainers. A person actually said that “Whites have gone out of their way (granted, I know some that make me cringe on both sides) to bridge the gap but nothing is ever enough.” This statement implies that whites have actually made everything between blacks and themselves equal yet somehow we blacks want more.
When in actuality each time blacks make noise to have a disparity ended white people start talking about some sort of special privilege. So if asking for equal pay for blacks since they are only making 78% of white pay is a special privilege then what is it when whites are receiving it? The same thing for equal access to employment, it equates to special treatment or preferential treatment for blacks. Yet when whites have unfettered access to jobs it is just considered life. When in reality it is what is considered white privilege.
White privilege seems to be the thorn in the white races paw. Denial of white privilege is high on the list of most white people who comments on my Blog and they will undoubtedly be out in force for this post as well. This denial goes so deep that they can sit and look right at a disparity and attribute it to the “bad day” or the “stupid individual” syndrome. I believe that white people are thinking that white privilege is equal to being told that they are racist or white supremacists in some way. White privilege is a byproduct of white supremacy and racisms of the past and present. In essence white privilege is the flip side of racism.
What exactly is white privilege and how does it affect people? When you seek admission to a university, apply for a job, or hunt for an apartment, you don’t look threatening. Almost all of the people evaluating you look like you they are white. They see in you a reflection of themselves – and in a racist world, that is an advantage. You smile. You are white. You are one of them. You are not dangerous. Even when you voice critical opinions, you are cut some slack. After all, you are white. I adapted that passage from Robert Jensen a Professor at the University of Texas.
Going by that interpretation of what white privilege is then what happens when you are black. When I seek admission to a university, apply for a job, or hunt for an apartment, I look threatening or like I might mean trouble. Almost none of the people evaluating me look like me since they are white. They see me as a reflection of every negative thing seen or heard about people who share my race – and in a racist world, that is a disadvantage. I smile. I am black I must be up to something. I am not one of them. I am dangerous. Especially when I voice critical opinions, I am cut no slack. After all, I am black.
According to the latest Survey of Consumer Finances, non-white Americans own 10 or 11 cents of wealth for every 100 cents of wealth owned by white Americans. And, even more troubling, the wealth gap between whites and non-whites expanded 21% from 1998 to 2001. The racial injustices of American history do not fully explain wealth disparities, but they are impossible to understand without reference to historical advantages and disadvantages.
Instead of reading this last passage and interjecting any and every excuse that does not involve white privilege why not just for once try and imagine that this phenomenon just might exist. And that these disparities aren’t explained away by racist rhetoric such as blacks don’t have education or are lazy and don’t want to work etc. It isn’t that hard to set aside the denial all the preconceived notions and or racist rhetoric and actually look at the disparity between the races which is flashing like a neon sign.