Using white male privilege

All I do is try to hang out with cool people. I don’t really think about race, religion, national origin or anything like that. I think most people are greatly overthinking the problem and I don’t consider myself especially liberal. It is much more about individuality. I don’t give two shits about what someone thinks about the Koran, Bible or Torah. Those are personal choices based on upbringing.

I do care if someone can show up on time and have a good conversation and almost anything is allowed after that. I know everyone from literal KKK members to radical muslims and we all get along just fine. I don’t do finger wagging because everyone has their own story and it isn’t usually the one you would expect. I don’t want to sound like a neo-hippie but you can learn a lot if you just talk to lots of different types of people with zero judgement. Most of them are fairly decent if not a little misguided.

I don’t want everyone to think the same way I do. That would be boring and a replication of effort. I am happy to talk with almost anyone with any beliefs to find out where those came from. The modern Left is notoriously bad at that type of tolerance and acceptance these days but I am hopeful that they can broaden their world-view.

Unless somebody is walking around with their Amex centurion card raised over their head, it’s hard to tell social class and wealth from a distance. Sure dress and style communicates a lot, but skin color can often overcome that message.

The knowledge of how to behave in a professional situation or be confident in a novel environment may be related to SES. I will believe it. The kid with professional parents is likely to learn the appropriate behavior, while a kid with chronically unemployed and under employed parents may not.

On average, for many reasons which are unimportant to this discussion, whites have a higher SES on average than some minority groups. That is white privilege. The white guy knows how to behave in the bank lobby or the posh hotel, because that’s something they’ve experienced before, for example.

I don’t know if this is still available, because it is 3 years old. I remember this old Daily Show podcast where they talk to Michael Che (now the black guy on SNL weekend edition) as being incredibly enlightening on white privilege or black penalty, etc.

Episode 03: Michael Che, Travon Free & Jo Miller


**Using white male privilege

Where does one go to get some of this privilege of which people speak? I’m 68, white and male, and no one has ever given me a damn thing because of it.

The very fact that you have never had to think about it *IS *your privilege.

This is why I never pay for anything, I’m a white male and no cop would ever arrest me. If I’m speeding usually the cop will assume that I’ve got an emergency and escort me where ever I want no questions asked. Heck I go into random companies and start working because the interview process is only for others.

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Ever been followed or approached by security in a store, even though you’re not stealing anything? Ever been pulled over by a cop for no reason? Ever not been given a job because of your skin color?

The OPs story reminds me of a story one of my great-aunty’s friends told about her after she died - going back to the 40s and 50s when they were gift shop staff on cruise ships. Aunty had a knack of getting her girls together and swanning them into high-class bars on-shore, where they totally didn’t belong … but she had the knack of just waltzing in with an ‘of course this is fine’ attitude whose halo effect was sufficient to cover her companions as well as herself, and just start talking to people like she’d known them for years.

Thing is, this wasn’t really ‘white’ privilege (for starters, Aunty herself wasn’t entirely ‘white’ and almost everyone else was) it certainly wasn’t ‘rich person’ privilege and it wasn’t even ‘pretty young thing’ privilege since these anecdotes date to when she was probably in her thirties (mutton territory, by 1950’s standards). She was just enormously socially confident and socially adept and projected charisma, which can get you through all sorts of situations.

Now my privilege story - I somewhat private-school-privileged myself into a job. :eek: Which is kind of embarrassing on multiple levels - not only do I philosophically believe that this is the kind of thing which ought not happen, also I’ve always been entirely dismissive of the possibility that it could happen to me. I’m in IT, ffs - a highly non-girly occupation, which my girly-private-school cohort stuffed with doctors and lawyers ought not to be the slightest networking help with. As it turns out, however, you can network through doctors to get to other IT people. Who knew!

Ha! People are going to hate me for bringing this thread up, but I’m gonna do it anyway because I believe its related to what you’re talking about. It’s what I term black-induced hyper skepticism.

So in the thread in question, here were the facts presented:

  • A female pedestrian and a child are hit by a runaway car and then literally smashed against a brick wall. The traumatic scene is caught on a surveillance camera. Both victims are hospitalized with severe injuries, but amazingly survive.

  • A cop interviewed in the article calls the woman a hero. Why? Because by putting herself between the car and the child, they believe she saved his life. Not only that, but the article notes plans to honor her with a celebration.

  • Being what it is, it is hard to make out this act of heroism on the surveillance footage. That said, an astute eye can see her entering the frame two times: the first, well before the impact and the second, immediately before impact.

People might find this hard to believe, but all it took was for me to read the thread’s comments for me to guess the woman was black; didn’t even need to look at the video. Had my suspicions after reading the 3rd post, and by 7th or 10th I was almost sure of it.

I’m convinced that thread was afflicted with black-induced hyper skepticism because normally rational posters were acting like no one on the scene actually witnessed what happened, which would’ve carried more weight than that micro splice of time and space captured on film. It was almost as if posters assumed a piece of flimsy surveillance footage was all that there was go by, and used that absurd assumption to justify doubt.

If the story was about a white man, I honestly can’t imagine so much energy would’ve been given to skepticism. People’s failure to clearly make out heroism from the video would not have been taken as evidence he wasn’t a hero. Instead, I believe people would’ve been more inclined to take the story at face value because there would have been no reason not to.

That is so much bullshit.

Explain it to me. Is racism not real? Or is it that people who suffer the affects of racism aren’t actually hurt by it?

I tend to dislike the word privilege because it seems to trigger something in other people, but think of it as getting the benefit of the doubt.

What kind of opened my eyes about it is the realization that a black male my age who is scruffily dressed will be looked at as a vagrant or potentially someone up to no good, but my scruffy middle aged self just projects suburban dad on the weekend, or someone working on a home improvement project, and is left alone by store security.

A month ago, my wife and I went off to do a couple tasks: She was going to the grocery store with our younger son, I was buying a used car (privately) on behalf of my older son.

My wife was in the checkout with our son and one of the “special” grocery carts made to look like a car. While she was checking out, an older white employee came to the register and told the cashier (without looking at or addressing my wife) “She doesn’t take that cart out of the store”. When the bagger started putting bags into the cart, the woman came back with the plain cart and repeated that my wife was not to take the cart out of the store and the bags would need to be moved. While this was happening, my wife watched some other guy roll the other cart through his line and out the door with his groceries. Which by itself wouldn’t be surprising since I’ve seen the carts out in the cart corrals before. He was white, my wife is Hispanic.

Meanwhile, I was buying my car. It all checked out so I handed over the cash and signed the title, etc. The seller mentioned that he had to take the plates off and I said no big deal. No one cared about me anyway since I was a middle-aged white dude. And, sure enough, I drove 40 minutes home without incident in a car with no plates or tags of any sort, including past a police car.

Now, obviously one can say all manner of dismissive things here: Maybe the cop was distracted and barely noticed me, maybe the employee so worried about her precious cart going into the parking lot somehow missed the same cart in the other lane, etc. I couldn’t help but notice the irony that my wife couldn’t be trusted to take a plastic car into a parking lot to load some groceries but I could blissfully drive for the better part of an hour without plates on my car. And the real sticker to it was that I felt safe doing so. I wasn’t worried that, even if I was pulled over, I was going to get cuffed for suspected auto theft (or worse) or that anything would come of it beyond a couple moments delay while I showed the title and explained the situation. I felt protected by the fact that I am a middle-aged white dude and socially invisible unless I make a show otherwise. My wife was left feeling as though she can’t buy milk and eggs without someone thinking she’s going to – hell I don’t even know – run away down the street to the barrio with their precious shopping cart and keep it in her living room? She actually found a manager and confronted him about it and he didn’t have a better answer than “Yeah, sorry, I’ll be sure to talk to someone about it”.

On the flip side, I wouldn’t worry a bit using the store’s fancy cart but I guarantee you that my wife would want nothing to do with spending 40+ minutes in a car just begging to be pulled over, title or no. That feeling of safety, when I’ve none nothing more to deserve it than my wife has, is my white privilege.

Jeeez. How did I miss that thread?! And now I may have to add new posters to my shit list after reading some of those responses.

Yes, hero gets thrown around too often. But for someone to think that’s a good example…SMH.

White privilege isn’t about what you’re given, it’s about what you don’t have taken away. Ranging from your dignity to your life.

Your story reminded of my own grocery story “discovery”.

While we were still dating, we’d occasionally go to the grocery store together to pick up ingredients for dinner or breakfast during the weekend. My then-boyfriend always took his reusable grocery bags with us so that we’d never have to bother with plastic ones. The first time at the store together, he blew my mind. He actually started putting things in the bags while we shopped.

Me: “What…what are you doing?!”

Him: "Uh, shopping?

Me: “But…” (looking around furtively) “But won’t people think you’re stealing? Because you’re sticking it in the bag instead of the basket?”

Him: “Um, no?”

But I couldn’t shake that concern out of my head. I still can’t, so even today I don’t shop like he does. I’ve been conditioned to believe that sticking merchandise into your bag (even if it’s a grocery bag) makes you look suspicious as hell, thus opening you up to all kinds of searches and seizures and whatnot. But my (white) husband lives without that concern. Being perceived as a shoplifter apparently is not something that he entertains very seriously.

Plus, even if an employee DID ask me what I was doing, I’d feel confident that saying “Well, putting stuff in my shopping bag to buy” would be an obvious and sufficient answer to end the conversation. I wouldn’t seriously entertain the notion that security or the police would get involved or that I’d be asked to leave. At worse, they might say “Please use a cart or basket.”

I agree with this. You are not using white privilege, just Upright Citizen Privilege. I can give a concrete example. I am a white female, my Gentleman Friend is African American. We both have jobs that require a good deal of travel, much of it by car, and I was complaining to him about the difficulty of finding clean restrooms on the road. His suggestion to me was to do what he always does, which is to pull into the parking lot of one of the nicer hotels you find clustered around the Interstate, and just walk into the lobby like you are a guest and use the bathroom. He is a real suit & tie kind of guy, so even though he is African American, he presents like any other businessman, walks in with confidence & looks the desk clerk in the eye, does his “business” & leaves. He says he has done this more times than he can count and has never been asked a thing.

I know, right? But it’s not that I think a security guard would rough me up or anything. It’s more that merely being questioned would fill me a sense of shame and embarrassment, and make me never want to go back to the store again.

Whereas, I suspect my husband would laugh it off the same way he laughs when people mistake him for Ed Norton Jr.

I am glad to hear this. I’m not being sarcastic or condescending. There was a time when African Americans had to carry a book listing the places they could stop while on the road.