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White Privilege is a Myth

White Privilege is a Myth December 23, 2015

THE MYTH OF WHITE PRIVILEGE PATHEOS ANDY GILL


The biggest misunderstanding of white privilege is that simply because you are white, you then automatically possess more privilege than someone who is black, Asian, Latino, i.e. “nonwhite.”

I’m beginning to think that white privilege is a myth, that it’s a means of inflating the ego of the light-skinned person, perpetuating a lie that another person is worth more based off of an arbitrary factor (i.e. race). All the while it’s deflating the ego of the nonwhite person, psychologically coercing them into believing they are in fact less than.

 

Yes, whites have differing privileges than nonwhites, but then again, I have differing privileges than many people that are white. So when I read an article that is written by a white male from Seattle titled, “10 Examples That Prove White Privilege Protects White People in Every Aspect Imaginable[1],” I can’t help but feel that this is merely 10 examples that show how white privilege is assuaging the white persons ego in every aspect imaginable.

“White commenters who were financially “better off” than me should assume only that, and no more. They should certainly not assume they were more privileged…”

Ta Nehisi Coates

I’ve said it before and it’s worth saying again, in order for this socially constructed hierarchy to work we all have to buy into it; yes, including those who are oppressed by it.

Now, I want to be careful and clear in that, I’m not saying that the oppression of nonwhite people is merely a figment of their imagination.

The extermination of native America, mass incarceration of the black person, the internment camps in which imprisoned Asian Americans, the racial wealth gap… these are all very real, and the direct result of what happens when a society buys into the myth that they are more privileged merely because they are lighter skinned.

The myth of white privilege, it offers a narrative in which I reject as a definition of my very existence and overall narrative.

It’s a subversive language, and psychological coercion, that inadvertently says if you’re not white then you do not possess privilege. While just as damagingly it says on the other side, if you are white, then you automatically possess privilege, widely ignoring the epidemic of impoverishment found in the white working class.

In other words, this subversive language internalized by the masses, it inverts a group of people with similar causes and pits them up against each other. It’s unconsciously rousing intergroup prejudice, tension, and therefore creating further division and segregation.[2]

Martin Luther King Jr. said, as most have heard before, “The riot is the language of the unheard.” Yet, when we riot, whom are we rioting against?

(Answer: each other; ourselves – we’ve just been made to believe it’s “the other group,” our opposer.)

It perpetuates wrongful assumptions that because you’re white, then every facet of your life is probably better than that of anyone else’s that is not “white.” I emphasize “probably” because, to say “definitively” would be outright racist, whereas probably gives your conscience an out, while still allowing you to be racist.

RACHEL-DOLEZAL-NAACP-LEADER-ANDY-GILL

Don’t get me wrong, there are in fact privileges to being nonwhite, but there are also privileges to having two parents, a nonabusive father (or mother), a natural-born clean slate of health, never fearing sexual violence, or deal with the bias’ created by heteronormativity (is that a word? Either way…).

“Whether you’re LGBTQ, living in a heteronormative world; whether you’re a woman, living underneath misogynistic principles; whether you’re a physically abused child, trapped in an abusive familial system; whether you’re a poor white, fighting economic inequity; blackness is one of many ontological symbols in which points to the reality of the oppressed person’s experience. These experienced realities oppressed persons face, of course, are all different and possessing various outcomes to differing effects/levels, yet they allow for an affinity that can create intersectionality between various oppressed communities.” 

The conversation, I fear, has been so overly convoluted as of recent, that it’s become unclear to the average person whether or not being a nonwhite categorically fixes a person as underprivileged; Again, it doesn’t. We’ve discussed it before, but it’s worth another mention, race is not a thing, and by that I mean, race is a social construct. At best, it’s just this “ontological” symbol that points to various experiences, despite one’s racial identity.

[1] http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/11/lessons-white-privilege-poc/

[2] Christena Cleveland, in her book Disunity Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart, breaks this down pretty well.

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