I am not a fan of the term "white privilege”

That’s how I see it used, *overwhelmingly, *regardless of the supposed theory behind it. I see terms like “white privilege” (or male privilege and white male privilege) used to demonize and dehumanize their targets, not for some “perspective on racism”. In fact the only time I ever see that version of it come up at all is in discussions where someone is trying to defend it, not when it’s being actually used.

I see it used to essentially say "So what if he’s sick/poor/oppressed/dead? He’s Privileged, and therefore deserves no sympathy, nor does he have the right to an opinion. He should remain silent, and suffer as he deserves."

Really, the main thing I see it accomplishing is poisoning the well and making it harder to talk meaningfully about people who are* actually* privileged and given special treatment, like the wealthy.

Personally, whenever I don’t get something, I take that as an indication that my privilege is getting in the way of understanding.

Like, I get what “body shaming” is in an intellectual sense, but I kinda don’t get it. I can’t help but think that people who talk about it are just a little hypocritical. They don’t have a problem with “intelligence” shaming or “personality” shaming. But when it comes to physical attractiveness, they think everyone is supposed to win a trophy. I don’t like that I have this opinion. I don’t willfully invite this opinion. But I have it nonetheless…because I don’t “get” it.

Why don’t I get it? Well, because I have “look” privilege. For one, I am lucky enough not to have to worry about physical attractiveness, either my own or another person’s. For another thing, no one has ever made me feel “less than” for my looks. I’ve never been body shamed before, so of course I don’t know how it feels.

What this means is that my opinion and perspective are not as important as the opinion and perspective of someone has suffered from lookism. It is also means I need to realize that I will almost always reflexively argue against the discourse rather than simply listen to it, since the discourse will usually make me feel defensive and uncomfortable. The status quo benefits me, even if I’m not consciously aware how it does. So of course I will feel uneasy about the questioning of the status quo.

“White” privilege is just one way to be privileged. There are few people who aren’t privileged in some way, so there’s no reason why white people should feel uniquely singled out.

Well, I didn’t think I had to post an exhaustive list, spelling out every single possible way in which a white person could experience privilege of this type. But surely you can think of an example that might apply to you. I mean, it doesn’t take much of an imagination. It’s quite likely you benefit from it without even knowing, if anything because your parents came up during a more racist time and profited from that oppression.

You’re over thinking it. White privilege, the way I see it, is that white folks get to go through their daily lives without ever having to think or worry about the many things a black person has to each and every day. Call it anything you like, but it speaks to the different life experiences of white and black people in the US (and, to a certain extent, other races and/or ethnic groups. too).

You and I don’t worry about being pulled over by the police, for instance (unless we have a reason we SHOULD be worried about).

Do you get hung up about the term homophobia, because it’s not really “fear” of gay people that we’re talking about?

This is not how it’s been used in my experience. In my experience, it’s mostly used to point out a lack of understanding someone might have about some aspect of racism (or some other bias).

A clear case of observation bias.

But the examples you gave were of people being jerks. Do you mean to say that white privilege consists in a greater ability to get away with being a jerk?

Except that’s kinda the point at issue - no one’s arguing with the existence of the phenomenon, just that it has a poorly chosen name.

A privilege is an extra cookie after dinner. Unsupervised use of the jungle gym. Getting to keep a television in your room. The term ‘privilege’ suggests some special unearned bonus that, if we’re concerned about fairness, should be taken away. Treating people with basic human decency is not a privilege.

Everyone should be able to go into a store without the clerks assuming they’re there to steal from it. Everyone should be able to find television programs that feature people ‘like them’. Everyone should have their job application evaluated on the basis of their skills and experience, rather than their skin color. Everyone should be able to walk down the street without worrying about being assaulted by police.

These are the things I get by virtue of being a white man, but the solution is not to take them away from me, but to also give them to everyone else, because they are things that people should have. They aren’t privileges. Personally, I think those are called rights. The problem isn’t that I’m getting privileges, it’s that other people are being denied rights.

When someone tells me that I benefit from white privilege, I become defensive. I think, “My life has problems enough already! Why are you trying to make my life worse? Get lost!”

When they tell me that I benefit from the oppression of people of color, I think, “Wow, my life has enough problems already, how much worse must it be for those people? I should try to help them.”

The words we use to describe problems matter, and I think this one could be better named.

I agree that it’s a bad name. It’s probably a perfectly fine term in academia, but lots of academic terms don’t do well in the real world. And then it gets used as a club by random people on the Internet and generally to shut down discussion. I don’t think “check your privilege” has ever lead to anything other than rancor. It’s like the annoying trend on parts of the Internet to label everything “[blank]splaning”.

It means getting away with being imperfect in a way that blacks and other minorities can’t.

The examples I gave were in direct response to the OP’s claim that whites are simply treated like everyone ideally should be treated. Unless you think this notion is true, then I don’t understand what you are struggling to understand.

If there really is a privilege, it was created, developed, and possibly is being sustained. But if you can’t identify them as unlawful, you shouldn’t undo them. Create your own environment of privilege. Or, use your feet.

It’s called white privilege because, all else equal, it is a disadvantage NOT to be white. If you compare two individuals at the same socioeconomic level, of the same gender, same advantages, same levels of education, and same work experiences, the white person would be more likely to succeed in their future endeavors because of societal bias. This is a fact, it cannot be argued against. Your mistake is taking it personally. There is no obligation to feel guilty about your privilege. But if you wish to be considered a person of conscience and wisdom, you do have a duty to recognize that an accident of birth has made certain aspects of your life less difficult than they otherwise would be.

Some of the folks that coined the term would (kinda) disagree. One of the arguments for talking about “privilege” vs “disadvantage” is that some sociologists view some of these things (like housing costs, educational opportunities, etc) as zero-sum, at least in part. In other words, for things to improve for minorities in a meaningful way, life will have to get worse for white folks in some ways.

Part of the discourse is that white people will naturally resist that, and will subtly (perhaps unintentionally) reinforce the old systems of oppression that held minorities back in the first place. Or possibly create new oppressions (I believe some folks would argue that white folks buying heavily into gangster rap in the 90s would be an example – this is part of why there’s occasional flare-ups of anger about white people listening to hip hop in general).

I think a lot of this winds up being sociological naval gazing, but it’s worth acknowledging that folks are making these arguments.

This is incorrect. People have acknowledged and discussed disadvantages of certain groups as long as sociology has been a thing.

The language of privilege was specifically devised to make white people feel guilty about their privilege.

If you don’t like it, you can go start your own country?

How many examples of that do we have in the 20th century? Singapore, North Korea, Cuba, several micro-states.

Can you unpack the quoted bit for me? I’m having trouble getting how white people listing into gangster rap is a problem.

On the topic of the thread in general; I wish some other term had been coined before “privilege” was used. But “[Blank] privilege” is the term we use now and trying to change that is pretty much pointless.

I actually find that the term racism is used too loosely & that white people are discriminated unfairly, expected to tolerate being wronged, expected to do things they shouldn’t have to. For example, if a black person is proud of being black, he is a proud man. If a white man is proud of being white, he is a “racist”. If a black man prefers dating white girl, he has a preference & type. If a white man prefers dating white girl, he is a “racist”. That kind of social oppression is commonly imposed on the white people, which is an eyesore.

Intelligent, honest people rarely have a reason to sidestep or backpedal on a question. In any case, I’m turning my BS radar on. :wink:

That doesn’t seem like a good idea, at least if the goal is to do something about it. Can you explain the reasoning behind this devising?