Does white privilege exist?

Oh, colander, you think you’re so smart with all your “studies” and “experience”. Can’t you see that white people have this covered? Who needs facts? Are you implying that white people aren’t capable of figuring out everything on their own? After all, who knows more about racism than white people? Certainly not people who’ve been subjected to it, or people who spend their lives studying it. All that can be completely dismissed, because a white guy on the internet says he’s never seen it happen.

Since it was a black woman who had actually experienced this and noticed it and brought it up in an interview, I think you need to take it a little more seriously.

Sure, when you go out an do that. But I’m talking about when people base things on their own experiences. Which they do alot.

Sure. So now you’ve proven that. Doesn’t diminish my point one bit.

Exactly. They may be wrong sometimes, they may be right sometimes. But as you said, only an emperical study can prove it.

I hope you’re not referring to me, because I have never said anything like that, and you don’t know what race I am either. Sorry if you mean someone else.

I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen that happen. Most people who I see complaining about “white privilege” are, like the OP, simply offended by the implication that such a thing might actually exist, not upset that it does.

The OP did not express any offense by the implication that it exists. In fact, the OP clearly stated that I believe it DOES exist.

You seem to be overreacting to the suggestion that we even discuss whether it does exist, and if so, it’s nature. Let’s just have a discussion without questioning motives or any of that, please.

That’s not the question that defines white privilege. The question is - will they be scrutinized differently from an equivalent Black/Latino/Martian. And they will.

Of course you can.

A subtler thing than “things”. It’s a colour to every interaction, a flat note in every cultural exchange. It’s not one thing, or a bunch of things. It’s all the things read together. It’s the Gestalt of the “things.” You can pick items of privilege out, but there’s nothing about a particular privilege that marks it as part of White privilege. Only context does that.

By a thousand little indignities not visited on White people.

I didn’t say it’s not a bucket of things (though it isn’t), I said it’s not a bucket list - trying to pin it down to “these and only these items” is beyond futile. It’s fallacious, in fact.

No, I don’t think they will. I don’t think being white will bail those people out of being scrutinized as security threats in a store.

No, you can’t. Every person is different. The world is not, literally or figuratively, black and white.

Oh, come on. White privilege is that someone smiles at you a split second longer or something? Get real.

Okay. But they are still items. Life is items. As you say below, “little indignities.”

Okay. Start with one.

Well, there is always the study that showed that applicants with typical black names are less likely to get called for an interview with ones with typical white names independent of qualification. That seems to be a pretty textbook case of white privilege.

Good thread. Maybe someone will answer my question this time.
Has anybody here ever heard of Tim Wise? This is just a short clip from a longer lecture. I think he gives quite a provocative lecture on white culture and privilege, but I wonder how one-sided or even factually correct he is.

What he points out is that in earlier times, there was no such thing as a “white” person. There was simply upper-class and lower-class. Then, around the time of slavery, the peasants outnumbered the rich so much, that they needed to divide the people by an arbitrary means. So, they gave white peasants “carrots”, meaning a little land and power, and used them to keep black people in bondage. Since then, these ideas of black and white culture have persisted.


Except that brings up another issue - why call that white privilege? It’s simply racial discrimination. I’m not sure why we needed a new term for that.

Unless, as some have suggested - and please don’t attribute this to me yet, I’m just pointing out what others have said - the term white privilege is meant to instill guilt and responsibility in those who benefit from discrimination even if they don’t participate in it or ask for it.

I’ll have to look him up, thanks.

In what context? Europe? That doesn’t really make any sense. In America, race mattered only because there were so many blacks and they were almost exclusively slaves. That happened from the very beginning.

Perhaps he means poor whites who were given carrots like cheap land out west? He’s saying poor whites who tended not to own slaves were used to keep them in bondage? Huh? Or they elevated the status of poor whites in order to differentiate them by race?

I guess I’ll have to go look it up.

Well, just watch the clip because a lot of the questions you are asking are the same ones I have.

Shit. Wrong clip. This one is better and alludes more to what I was saying.

Tim Wise - the creation of “whiteness”

John Scalzi wrote an interesting essay on the subject: Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is.

Surely it is racial discrimination. But, at least in this case, there is indeed a privilege in having a non-AA name. Privilege is perhaps too loaded a term, but surely that’s preferable to calling HR racist for making this often subconscious reactions.

I guess that’s one way to think about it, but I guess I don’t think of guilt in these areas as a particularly bad thing. If an HR director feels guilty by the results of these studies maybe they will be a bit more conscientious when evaluating applicants.

There seems to be a common strain of thought in the white community (as much as there is such a thing) that just because the more virulent forms of racism and segregation are behind us that there is no complicity or responsibility. I understand that way of thinking, but I think it lets individuals off the hook, as it were, far too easily. You can’t just “opt out” of benefiting from discrimination. And acknowledging reality is the first step towards attempting to make things better.

So is that what this is about? White privilege is the result of unconcious or unintentional racism?

No, I mean guilt on the part of the white applicants who *benefited *from the privilege. Even if they may not even know it, or have a way to stop it.

Wait - yes, of course you can’t opt out. So you aren’t necessarily responsible for benefiting. If you don’t ask for the benefits, I’m not sure how you’re culpable.

It’s like I said on another thread - if I were a white person who saw a sign that said “whites only” on a shop, I wouldn’t enter the shop. But I can’t be responsible for store security not watching me as closely as a black guy, or do much about it.

I think a lot of people ignore the connection. They think of this as discrimination for white people rather than discrimination against non-white people - and somehow that’s okay. Because they didn’t tell themselves they weren’t going to hire anyone who was black - an idea they recognize as discrimination - rather they tell themselves they’re going to choose to hire a white person. Or they tell themselves it wasn’t discrimination because the black applicants didn’t have jobs before and they don’t have jobs now - so nothing was taken away from them and it’s not like they were fired for being black. Or they tell themselves it wasn’t discrimination because only one white applicant was hired so most of the white applicants didn’t get the job either - so it’s not like all the white applicants were hired and none of the black applicants were.

The reality is this is genuine discrimination, even if it’s as hard to see as the difference between having the potential to be hired for a job and having no chance at being hired. But because it’s hard to see, it’s easy for some people to ignore it.

I look at as a deliberately loaded term - calling it “privilege” means that you can sneer at the “privileged” person as unworthy vermin. It means you can shift blame for the the structural problems of society on that guy over there, who can do nothing about it yet now somehow deserves the blame for it. And its main purpose IMHO is to justify racism towards whites, and paper over other forms of prejudice like ageism, classism and sexism by making it all about race. It’s so you can do things like look at the homeless white guy eating out of a garbage can and sneer at him as being “privileged”. Labeling someone as “privileged” absolves you as having any sort of moral responsibility towards them, any need for compassion or concern over non-race issues like income inequality or sexism. You don’t need to care if a white guy is dying because he can’t afford medical care; that’s no more than just retribution for “white privilege”, it’s not because America’s health care system is so screwed up and backwards.

It rather reminds me of the way some feminists have historically blamed everything wrong in the world on “the patriarchy”, and labeled every single man on Earth as being part of “the patriarchy” and therefore automatically evil. It’s a way of labeling them “the enemy”, regardless of anything they do. A white person can’t shed “white privilege”, which is very convenient for someone who wants to hate, blame or dismiss such a person.

It’s not racist- it’s classist at best; I’d be willing to bet that sight unseen, some blond haired, blue eyed Brad Pitt looking white guy with a name like “Cletus Lee Wilkins” will get the same treatment as the Denzel Washington looking black guy named “Dashaun Marquise Tubbs”, and a man of either race named “Robert Johnson” who looks like a fat grungy stoner won’t be treated funny because of his name.

It’s a stereotype thing- people hear “Cletus Lee Wilkins” and they’re thinking about some guy that looks like Larry the Cable Guy, except with less teeth, a Fu-Manchu and a bigger gut. Dashaun Marquise is going to generate a different, equally untrue stereotype. Robert Johnson, OTOH, doesn’t really make anyone think of anything; it’s generic.

It’s classist and stereotypical, but not necessarily racist, but since race and class are so tightly interwound in the US, it’s easy to mistake one for the other.

And unlike racism, admitting classism in America even exists (or is unjustified if it does) is still somewhat taboo. The same with prejudice against males and young people. If someone is mistreated because they are a young, poor black male, it’s OK to blame racism, but not to point out the prejudice against his class, age or gender. If there’s more blacks in prison on average than whites that’s because of prejudice; but if there’s more poor people and males on average in prison than rich people and females it’s because men and poor people are simply bad people who deserve prison