White privilege definitely exists, but it’s not what you think it is.
Since becoming a graduate student, I’ve been bombarded by the idea of “white privilege” so hard I feel like a black stripper at a Duke lacrosse party. White privilege says that I, as a white guy, reap advantages from living in a racist society that keeps people of color (not “colored people”) in poverty. Since I’ve been acculturated in the dominant culture of America, life is one big bachelorette party, and I’m the guy who shows up with the right amount of cologne and washboard abs—it’s just too easy.
Grad school goes on to teach me that, because of my white privilege, I must be sensitive around racial minorities who may happen to be poor and stupid. After all, they’re only poor and stupid because they live in a culture that inadvertently oppresses them at all times of day, even at 11 am when they’re still sleeping.
This gives us a glimpse of what white privilege really is.
First, let’s go back to the example of the poor and stupid minority. It’s insensitive, nay racist, to call this minority—let’s say he’s Mexican—poor and stupid. To make such a claim about minorities is to not understand the system of oppression that is America. But if I, as a white male, am poor and stupid, people will line up to tell me just how poor and stupid I am, right to my face.
Get it? It’s better to be white because it’s okay to criticize white people.
To be criticized is one of the best things that can happen to you. It’s like getting a painful massage—It may be uncomfortable in the moment, but afterward, you’re a better person. Then you have a better chance of not being so poor and stupid all the time.
When I’m stupid, nobody apologizes for me by saying that I’m intelligent from my cultural perspective—I’m told to read more.
When I’m poor, nobody tells me it’s because I haven’t been given a chance—I’m told to work more.
When I gain weight, nobody tells me it’s because I live in a poisonous environment—I’m told to exercise more.
If I’m wearing something that makes me look like a clown, like an upside-down visor, people gladly tell me I look like a clown without fear of offending my traditional culture that is the state school fraternity.
If I go for a job interview and don’t get the job, nobody tells me it’s because hiring policies are inherently racist. Instead, people tell me it’s because I must’ve done something wrong. Even if I didn’t do anything wrong, turning the lens on myself makes it more likely I’ll get the next job.
If I partake in any sort of tribalism, by taking pride in my race, for instance, I receive the gift of learning exactly what it means to take pride in my race—that it’s racist. Now there’s one less thing in my life that could keep me poor and stupid.
If I, in any way, project to the world I’m an idiot, by saying “axe” instead of “ask,” or by ending every other sentence with a “youknowwhatImsaying,” people have no problem pointing out these verbal retardations, and just how retarded they make me look.
Since who I am and what I believe are open to criticism, the soft spots in my psyche and intellect and personality are exposed. As such, I’ll be in a better position to know about them. And since I don’t take criticism as an attack on my race or heritage, I’ll be in a better position to fix them.
For me, society is the no-nonsense football coach—he will always be there to make sure I’m not making too many excuses. For minorities, society is the overprotective mother—she will always be there to validate them.
I’d like to believe that if I was a racial minority, I’d listen to criticism when it does arise (in the form of what we now call racism). But, unless my dad was Thomas Sowell, I probably wouldn’t. Growth and comfort rarely overlap, and comfort is usually eschewed only when you’re surrounded by others who know better than you. This is especially true when you’re young and establishing your operating system.
This is why it’s better to be white in America. Society tells me I need to grow, while society tells minorities they need to be comfortable. Given this, I cannot help but feel sad for the little black and Hispanic kids who run around my neighborhood. They don’t have much of a chance in American society, especially if they go to grad school.