The Flip Side Of Racism

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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.

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6 Comments

Filed under African American, Black community, Black People, Racism, Subjugation

6 responses to “The Flip Side Of Racism

  1. Pingback: Pages tagged "equal"

  2. Pingback: African American History

  3. If there’s anyone reading this who sincerely doubts the existence of “white privilege,” but would like to learn, I highly recommend Peggy McIntosh’s work on the subject. Most of my white friends grew up understanding how whites and blacks are treated in this society, but for many others, this seems to come as a relevation.

    There’s a short, animated film online which illustrates several of Peggy’s key examples of white privilege. I have a link to the film on my blog, at http://blog.jdewperry.com/2007/12/22/187/.

    Thanks,

    James

  4. bgfall,

    If you want to reply to this blog next time use responsible language. Also, I don’t give play to a bunch of racist rhetoric.

    Thanks but no thanks!

  5. I think that you are confusing ‘white privilege’ with the fact that most of the people that you meet, in a predominantly white country, are white. Naturally most of the jobs will go to white people, most of the people in the street, in University and just about every other place are going to be white. That is what happens in a white majority country.

    If you feel that people are judging you purely on your race because they are white and you are not, well quite frankly that’s racist. You are assuming that they are simple minded racists who simply only ever see the colour of your skin, rather than the skilled professionals that they no doubt are.

    If that is how you feel in every situation then really nothing, other than only even mixing with black people, is going to help you in a nation where 80% of people are white.

    The fact that you only feel comfortable when you see a black face says more about you, than the people you are facing.

  6. Charlie,

    I think you are confused. There is a thing called white privilege and it doesn’t depend on the amount of white people in the area. There was white privilege in South Africa under apartheid and they were the minority. So think again.

    Also, what does it say about white people that they reported that they feel more comfortable in a majority white situation? What person does not feel comfortable with their own race?

    Have you ever been the one white person in a group of any other race of people on a daily basis, say for work? NO! So, please don’t begin to lecture me on how it is to be the only black person at a company of a thousand or so people.

    Why don’t you explain to all of us the white flight phenomenon? Why does it say more about me to be happy to see a black face? What is it saying about the majority of white people who practice white flight? I guess I am not so different than you or white people after all.

    People such as yourself talk with this self righteous attitude. Do you live in an all black area? If not why not? Do you seek employment where you will be the minority? If not, why not?

    Also, I know racism when I am dealt it, so again do not begin to tell me what was in those people’s hearts as they doled it out. I never said that ALL white people are racist and act in such a way. I said that specific white people were discriminating. Unless you somehow know that white people do not discriminate, EVER.

    So it says a lot about you that you feel this need to defend a racist society as if the people being discriminated against are the problem. Not those giving it out. Until you actually stop trying to act as if there is no racism and people are equal everywhere, you will never be able to have an honest conversation regarding race.

    Thanks for the reply.

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