John Hawkins is one of the vast army of right-wing bloggers and columnists that churn out simpleminded nonsense at at astonishing rate. In his latest column, he denies the existence of white privilege, saying that “only losers whine about” it. To the fiskmobile, Robin.
Remember when you were young, bratty and complaining about something stupid? Maybe your brother got to stay up later than you because he was older, maybe you were upset because nobody would watch you dive into the swimming pool or maybe you were even angry because your sister’s hot dog was cut into 5 pieces while yours was cut into only 4 pieces.
So, you unleashed the favorite complaint of small children, “That’s not fair!” Then, almost inevitably, some adult responded by saying, “Life’s not fair. Get used to it.”
Now, if you were denied that formative experience, maybe it would explain why you’re one of the losers who runs around crying about “white privilege.” I say that because whining about “white privilege” is nothing more than the liberal equivalent of saying, “Life is not fair.” That’s pretty appropriate since liberals like to think of themselves as sophisticated, but their thought processes are as simple as those of children.
Boy, if only my thought processes were as “sophisticated” as this bit of stupidity. In order to maintain that there is no such thing as white privilege, one has to ignore reams and reams of data on the subject. Social scientists have studied this subject thoroughly and have shown beyond all reasonable doubt that being white carries enormous privileges and being black means almost certainly being discriminated against. Let’s just cite a few studies.
Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan did a study on discrimination by employers, sending out resumes with identical qualifications but giving some of the applicants white-sounding names and others black-sounding names. “Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal?” they asked. The answer was a resounding yes.
White names receive 50 percent more callbacks for interviews. Callbacks are also more responsive to resume quality for White names than for African-American ones. The racial gap is uniform across occupation, industry, and employer size. We also find little evidence that employers are inferring social class from the names. Differential treatment by race still appears to still be prominent in the U.S. labor market.
The same is true in the housing market. Though it is illegal to discriminate in housing on the basis of race, study after study shows that it happens constantly. The Department of Housing and Urban Development did a similar study to the one above with 8000 people searching for a home. Again, they had both minority and white prospective buyers with virtually identical credit and income profiles and the white buyers were significantly favored.
In one test, a white customer looking for a two-bedroom apartment was shown a two-bedroom and a one-bedroom and given applications for both, while a Hispanic customer who arrived two hours later was told that nothing was available. In another, a real estate agent refused to meet with a black tester who was not prequalified for a loan, while a white tester was given an appointment without being asked if she had prequalified.
The study was the fourth of its kind since 1977, when the results showed a starker form of discrimination known as door-slamming. In 17 percent of the cases in that study, whites were offered a unit when blacks were told that none were available. In 2012, when the new study was conducted, the vast majority of testers of all races were able to at least make an appointment to see a recently advertised house or apartment.
But once they arrived, they were given fewer options. Over all, black prospective renters were presented 11 percent fewer rentals than whites, Hispanics about 12 percent fewer rentals and Asians about 10 percent fewer rentals. As prospective buyers, blacks were presented 17 percent fewer homes and Asians 15 percent fewer homes, but Hispanics were given the opportunity to see roughly the same number of homes as whites.
White testers also were more frequently offered lower rents, told that deposits and other move-in costs were negotiable, or were quoted a lower price. Taking into account fees, deposits and rents, apartments were more likely to cost whites slightly less in the first year of rental than blacks might pay.
The study did not examine discrimination in lending practices, though there is already considerable evidence that minorities have suffered significantly from predatory lending and were far more likely during the housing boom to be offered subprime loans even if they qualified for cheaper conventional mortgages.
There are literally dozens and dozens of similar studies on a wide range of forms of discrimination and every single one of them shows the same thing, that implicit racial biases cause discrimination against non-whites. And I’ve written at great length about the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, where blacks and Latinos are far more likely to be arrested for using, buying or selling drugs even though whites use and sell drugs at the same rate. The evidence is so overwhelming at this point that one could only deny it out of utter ignorance or clear malice.
But that is at the core of what privilege means. The ultimate privilege is to remain blissfully unaware of one’s own privilege. It’s how racist jerks like John Hawkins can call those who believe in the undeniably truth of white privilege “whiny losers.”