Summer Rerun: The Victory of Privilege

Yves here. Lambert recently flagged this 2018 post on privilege by our sometimes guest writer, Andrew Dittmer, who was fond of the handle Outis Philalithopoulos, as having been on to something.

I feel compelled to add that here in 2021, when the idea of privilege would logically be even better established than in 2018, from what I see in Alabama in 2021, it isn’t. And if my belief based admittedly on limited indicators is correct, it illustrates how big and diverse (if you want to put a positive frame on the phenomenon) or fragmented the US is. I saw this as a child moving from paper mill town to paper mill town, which in theory should have had a lot of commonalities, but without exception had very different caste/status systems. Despite the intervening decades national network programming to provide cultural homogenization (admittedly now in reverse due to Internet-spawned narrow interest content and news), my belief is the amount of acceptance of new social norms is shallower that elites and influencers on the coasts remotely comprehend.

Yes, in my part of the Deep South, there are more blacks more willing to accuse whites of racism to to their faces than before, but I don’t see that as coming out of the “privilege” discussion as Black Lives Matter, which I see as focusing much more on tangible issues, with discriminatory policing and sentencing being top of the list. Words like privilege have a funny way of hazing out concrete demands. But even in purple Mountain Brook, I don’t see privilege as having penetrated as an idea, even though a university is one of the biggest employers in town and our suburb is in the top 100 in the US in BAs per capita. In fairness, I may be missing an underlying shift due to not having much contact with young people, but most here go to Alabama schools, or if they are more ambitious, to Duke or University of Virginia. The conversations I do hear at the gym from them are gossip from their circle, useful information exchanges, or who is doing what when, like camp and vacations. The one in depth discussion I heard was from Bible study class.

So another implication of this article is that many well informed people treated the privilege issue as having been settled: it exists and Something Must Be Done. There’s now been a series of moves, starting at universities but being emulated in primary and secondary schools, to implement remedies. But as Lambert has pointed out, universities are authoritarian institutions. Even if there really were a societal consensus about combatting bad thinking, as in privilege, top-down university imposed schemes would seem guaranteed to generate pushback. As one reader who monitors right-wing media put it, “Don’t get between a mama bear and her children.”

A related issue, that Dittmer addresses, is whether correcting attitudes is the best way to improve the conditions facing “out” groups, as opposed to combatting the most damaging outcomes. Black Lives Matter had a simple initial ask: have the police stop killing people of color, which later morphed into “defund the police”. Either way you have it, Black Lives Matter had concrete material demands designed to reduce deaths. And the protests worked. The areas of the US that had demonstration saw a bigger fall in police violence against blacks than those that didn’t.

By Outis Philalithopoulos, a ghost haunted by the mystery of the origins of modern political ideas.

This post first appeared on September 5, 2018

The notion of privilege has by now become entirely mainstream. Listening to someone discuss their privilege, watching as someone is told to check their privilege, hearing about someone acting in a typically privileged way… all of these experiences are by now familiar, especially in progressive circles. There is a network of activists who work as facilitators to raise public consciousness of privilege – one proud member of this group refers to himself, a bit tongue-in-cheek, as part of the “white privilege brigade.”

What does it mean, that privilege has become a preferred way to discuss structural unfairness? How does using its vocabulary affect the way social patterns are understood? How does it influence the way people talk to each other, and the way they treat each other?

The popularity of ideas can become a barrier to understanding them, as people become reluctant to ask questions about behavior that everyone else seems to find normal. In the case of privilege language, proponents consider it a straightforward description of injustices permeating society, while opponents may be able to articulate a critique but often seem simply irritated by it.

However, once one starts to think about it, very little about privilege is obvious.

A Story

Any history of the modern concept of privilege discusses a 1988 talk by Peggy McIntosh, a professor at Wellesley: “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” (see here and here). According to McIntosh, she started brainstorming about ways she was unfairly advantaged by being white. She compiled a list of 50 things she could count on that she believed African-Americans she knew could not count on.

Reflecting on her “invisible knapsack of advantages” forced her to make painful psychological sacrifices – she now felt obligated to give up on the myth of meritocracy. She in fact concluded that it was appropriate for her to be seen as an oppressor. She went on to challenge her audience to use their unearned privileges to “reconstruct power systems on a broader basis.”

Tools for Understanding the World

McIntosh urges facilitators presenting her work to

help participants or students to think about what it is to see society systemically and structurally, rather than only in terms of individuals making individual choices.

Participants learn to think of oppression as not involving merely actively wronging others, but also as benefiting from advantages others do not enjoy – hence the slogan “privilege: the up-side of oppression and discrimination.”

The Problem of Definitions

Critics have responded that it is not clear what is and is not a “privilege.” Does the term include benefits enjoyed by any majority population, such as the ability to speak a language fluently? Does it include physical attractiveness? Does it include literacy? Does the term include advantages that are actually human rights that everyone should enjoy?

McIntosh does not reject such critiques. Already in 1988, she allowed that

[…] we need a more finely differentiated taxonomy of privilege, for some of these varieties [of privilege] are only what one would want for everyone in a just society [while others are more negative]

She has, however, not gotten around to carrying out this taxonomy herself.

When the blogger Will Shetterly made his own attempt to unpack the idea of privilege, he began by classifying McIntosh’s examples of white advantages into four categories:

1. Items that have some objective truth
2. Items that do not apply to the white working class
3. Items that were no longer true when McIntosh wrote
4. Items that are purely subjective

One might however wonder whether this nitpickiness is missing the point. After all, isn’t the important thing here a recognition that other people might suffer in ways that we don’t fully understand, partly due to benefits we unthinkingly take for granted? And that many social advantages are distributed in ways that are demonstrably unfair? Why get hung up on specific list items or on precise definitions? Isn’t the aim of all of this more heightening of moral sensitivity than carrying out careful sociology?

Privilege and Moral Reasoning

The Invisible Knapsack is in fact full of a sense of moral urgency. McIntosh expresses her disappointment in those who are not “truly distressed” about “conferred dominance,” alerting her audience to how certain privileges can “give license to be ignorant, oblivious, arrogant, and destructive.” She instead encourages white people to realize that “we are justly seen as oppressive,” even though they are probably like her in that, before she constructed her privilege list, she “did not see myself as a racist.”

Should we then conclude that the Invisible Knapsack is more about fostering contrition and a consequent moral awakening than about descriptive precision? According to McIntosh, absolutely not:

My work is not about blame, shame, guilt, or whether one is a “nice person.”

Instead, the goal is

observing, realizing, thinking systemically and personally.

It is to strengthen “intellectual muscles,” make “people smarter” and to foster “accurate thinking.”

At this point, we are going in circles.

If privilege is a language designed to help people acquire a deeper and more thorough understanding of the world, then whether or not its terms have a consistent meaning is important, and privilege lists should be designed to be as accurate, nuanced, balanced, and nonrepetitive as possible. If it is more about thinking systemically than about moralizing, it should eschew imprecise and tendentious language in favor of respectful clarity.

But if this is really not what privilege is – if it is more about inciting people to rise to a higher ethical standard of behavior – then why deny it so fiercely? And in any case, why would using charged terms in amorphous ways be more conducive to fostering good behavior than careful sincerity?

The Upside of Confusion

And yet, McIntosh herself seems to think that it is. In her 2010 instructions to facilitators, she describes precise definitions as a “trap”:

Do not get trapped in definitions of privilege and power. They lack nuances and flexibility.

What McIntosh means by “nuances” is not immediately obvious – it is difficult for an undefined, “flexible” concept to be “nuanced.” But McIntosh’s preferences here are at any rate consistent, going back decades.

Three years before writing the Invisible Knapsack (in Feeling Like a Fraud, 1985), McIntosh lamented the fact that the conventions of expository writing insist

that one make a case which is cohesive and clear, an argument which has no holes in it

and throughout that speech she used the word “clear” with negative connotations.

McIntosh appears to see a certain degree of conceptual confusion as a positive value. Applying this point to the edifice of privilege itself, we start to wonder if the curiously oscillatory ideas we find there might not be the result of enthusiastic carelessness so much as something else, something more akin to a modus operandi.

How This Could Work

The general system of the Invisible Knapsack starts by identifying things some people can do, including mundane ones, that other people cannot. Most of her list items begin with “I can,”and so highlight those who “cannot.”

Including an item on the list does not depend on an analysis of where the disparity comes from, only that a disparity exists. For example, the item “I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race” might or might not be absurd if its message is that music by black people is disproportionately hard to come by. However, the general principle illustrated here is that if typical music stores have few selections that can be classified as of a given ethnic group, then that group should include this fact as an item on their list, without further ado.

It is in this sense that privilege discourse is non-moralistic and only about thinking and observing.

Lists are only made for groups, so the items on the list are generalizations rather than individual experiences. The most common group distinctions discussed remain race and gender, although sexual identities have become more frequent and other axes of distinctions can come up as well.

It is in this sense that privilege discourse is about seeing “society systemically and structurally,” although these words signify not that any structural analysis will take place but that the analysis will focus on groups of people.

Once the framework has been set up, key vocabulary words are attached to the possession of advantages on the lists: privilege, racism, oppression, and many others (unearned, unfair, discrimination, dominance, etc.).

These are of course not neutral, descriptive words – they connote injustice and many of them imply a high degree of intentionality.

Many people are willing to acknowledge that they enjoy advantages that others don’t, and that these advantages are not ideally distributed. Fewer are willing to proclaim that they consciously perpetrate injustice.

It is here that avoiding precise definitions can become highly functional. If “privilege” signifies – flexibly – anything from possession of advantages to deliberate oppression, then the person who gets to decide which it is holds a great deal of power.

What dynamics are possible within this structure? Here is one way things could play out:

Everyone in an “oppressive category” lives under the knife of responsibility for their privilege. But those who defer to privilege culture can still hope that their privilege will be considered largely formal. As they painfully acknowledge their privilege, describing their advantages as intentional faults for which they know they should make amends, others may (hopefully) see their privilege merely as advantages distributed by a flawed society, without this circumstance reflecting negatively upon them.

The ratchet is turned in the opposite direction for those who resist the premises of privilege culture. They are at the very least oblivious of their privilege and lack empathy for those hurt by societal injustices. If they do not desist, their oppression and racism will be treated with the full ordinary connotation of those terms: as callous and intentional infliction of wrongs upon the innocent.

The Balance

If verbal acknowledgements of the reality of oppression inherently represent progress, then the model of privilege discourse described above is undeniably effective at eliciting such acknowledgements. It is therefore a valuable strategic tool.

If we are concerned not just with words but the psychological state behind the words, the balance is less clearly positive. Participants in the system described above are punished when they try to attach a consistent meaning to words instead of following the cues of those already integrated into privilege culture. The incentive structure does not foster empathy for those with whom others don’t empathize, but tense conformism.

This is a model. Is it how privilege discourse is actually deployed in real life?

At least sometimes, it is. In its most methodical form, it becomes a sort of machine, with minimal thoughtful content, that seeks principally to replicate itself. It sets itself up as the way to talk about disadvantages faced by groups and defends this niche aggressively, training its adherents to treat dissenters without empathy.

Is this, then, all that privilege represents?

I will argue no. A strong case can be made that something else is going on here. The language of white privilege was born out of a set of sincere, deeply felt concerns, and echoes of these can still be discerned within the culture that has grown up around it.

As it happens, these concerns had nothing to do with empathy for black people.

This post is part of a series. The second part will appear tomorrow.

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  1. Dave in Austin

    Yves is a keen observer. Like me, she seems to come from northern roots and she passed through the southern world of lumber towns and Mountain Brooks looking and listening… while going off to a northern education

    Privilege is a funny term. Both Yves and I were born into stable families that valued education and I assume taught the value of savings, prudence and honesty (although mine was the lower middle class, North-Eastern Irish Catholic version). My Chinese, Lebanese and Korean friends grew up studying behind the counters of Watts liquor stores and small-town gas stations; my Jewish refuge friends grew up in Mexico or the Bronx with one message: “You will study and do better than us”.

    My first-generation Latin American neighbors 25 miles from Austin are more like the Poles of my youth- work hard; a paycheck matters more than education; honorable behavior and keeping your word matters; a USMC flag flys proudly on the porch; if you knock her up you marry her… and you both make it work. But I note the girls all now head to junior college and don’t get married at 18 and the boys all wear pressed dungarees and keep the new pickup clean- because the girls want it that way.

    These are the forms of privilege that matter in the U.S. and as Moynahan and Glaser noted fifty years ago, urban blacks often don’t have those forms of privilege. I was a 1960s supporter of the civil rights movement in the U.S. but inadvertantly government policies, black popular culture (“Going to the chapel and we’re gonna’ get married” turned into woman-hating rap) and immigration and out-sourcing reduced the number of blue-collar jobs for black men. Urban schools were intergrated, became more violent… and the intact black and white middle class headed for the next county outside the reach of judges.

    So the inevitable search for a scapegoat began. Yves notes that “Either way you have it, Black Lives Matter had concrete material demands designed to reduce deaths. And the protests worked. The areas of the US that had demonstration saw a bigger fall in police violence against blacks than those that didn’t.”

    Well, not actually reduce deaths. The small reduction of deaths at the hands of city police (both black and white) is far smaller than the huge increase in black male deaths at the hands of other black males- almost always the product of unwed, female-led households. I know some of the women; the party is over for them, they work had at menial jobs and when puberty hits, the boys hit the streets. Oddly enough, the daughters are getting the message; there has been a drop in the number of young, unwed black mothers so 18 years from now the problem will be smaller.

    Right now I’m sitting in a tripple-decker in working class Pawtucket, RI. I’m here because of sick, older relatives and friends. The neighborhood is mostly from the islands and central American now, but still safe. The folks are married, working, with one or two kids and buying tripple-deckers to house themselves, an occasional illegal immigrant cousin and a family paying rent living upstairs. They, also, share in the privilege of a stable, prudent family… and economic opportunity.

  2. workingclasshero

    this is insufferable sociological muck.bright minds making stuff up.oh yes,do a deep deconstruction of the white bourgeoise concept of equality before the law.glad i won’t be alive to see what replaces it.

  3. Pelham

    “The areas of the US that had demonstration saw a bigger fall in police violence against blacks than those that didn’t.”

    True. But what happened to overall homicide rates in these areas in the same time frame?

    1. PKMKII

      That wouldn’t be relevant without, at least, looking at the overall homicide rate as compared to both areas as well as long-term, historical rates.

      1. Carolinian

        Well the same “unknown variables” objection could also be lodged against statistics showing decreased police violence against blacks.

        There are claims, to be seen mostly on rightwing sites to be sure, that light policing is producing greater crime in general in places like Seattle. If we lived in some long ago world where everything isn’t politicized maybe we could get a dependable answer to your objection.

  4. Jackman

    The whole conversation of ‘privilege’ has become the opposite of radical thinking, appearances notwithstanding–it’s now the best way to insure that nothing of consequence changes. ‘Privilege’ has gone from being a useful insight into the world, into a key intended to distinguish those whites who ‘get it’ from those who ‘don’t’, and therefore those who are virtuous and willing to apologize reflexively on demand, and those who are ‘racist’. In practice it subverts any calls for broad-based cross-tribal class solidarity based on common needs, and plays magnificently into GOP efforts to undermine material gains. Alas, the Democratic Party does that pretty well, too, so it’s a perfect solution for both parties. In the final analysis, though, I suspect it strengthens the right for the simple reason that there are simply too many white people, and in today’s neoliberal horror, far too many struggling white people who don’t quite see their lives as ‘privileged’, and are not apt to get the ‘message’. So it’s another magnificent wedge issue that allows us to keep sliding inexorably to the bottom of the sea.

  5. Peter Dorman

    Five years ago I wrote this about privilege. No need to read the whole thing; the key idea is the distinction between zero-sum (or positional) situations where redressing inequality means taking from those with more to benefit those with less and positive-sum situations where that isn’t necessary.

    Several months after I wrote this I experienced a blowup at my college (Evergreen) that made national news. Rhetoric about privilege played a role. I wrote up a detailed account which incorporated reflection on aspects of woke rhetoric and social dynamics that played a role. I tried to get it published but failed. Here are a few paragraphs on privilege:

    Meanwhile, we have had to fall back again on the crucial word “privilege”, and until we unpack it we won’t understand the full scope of the need to manage speech. I should begin with a biographical disclaimer: I’m old enough to remember slogans like “Health care is a right, not a privilege.” Some things were rights and everyone should have them, while others were privileges that some could obtain only at the expense of others. The rights/privileges distinction in language corresponded to a conceptual distinction between things that could and should be universalized and things that were inherently positional. Everyone, it was thought (and many of us still think this), could be given access to health care, a non-toxic environment, and freedom from the fear of being randomly beaten or killed by the police. But some benefits by their nature can’t be made universal, because they are the result of exploitation. Everyone can’t benefit from cheap, off-the-books household services from undocumented workers, because the workers providing these services are part of “everyone” too. Everyone should have the right to join a union, but if union membership is restricted to certain families or ethnicities (the situation a half century ago) it becomes an unjust form of advantage—a privilege for the few rather than a right for the many. There are many inequalities in this world. Some take the form of unequal provision of rights, where nothing need be taken away from those who have more to satisfy those who have been denied. Others take the form of privileges, where those on top must give up some of their benefits if conditions are to be made more equal. Men didn’t have to give up much of anything when women obtained the right to vote; most have to give up a lot if the burden of housework is to be shared equitably. So, drawing on this distinction, privilege is a moral category: if my benefits are at your expense, I don’t have a right to them and should give them up.

    Today that distinction has largely been erased, and the word “privilege” is used to denote virtually all inequalities of position. Whites who don’t fear being shot at by the police are privileged, as are heterosexuals who don’t face the hostile media stereotypes reserved for the gender-nonconforming. They should feel unease from enjoying advantages they don’t deserve, and they should understand that those who are denied these privileges are on the bottom only because the better off are on the top. Each of us in the favored identity has the deep moral obligation to give up our privilege, to take less so that the oppressed can take more.

    Erasing the distinction between inequalities that are intrinsically positional and zero-sum (one’s gain is another’s loss) from those that are about incomplete provision (all should gain rather than only some) seems like a fundamental error, so I was curious how it evolved. No doubt it deserves a more careful study than I can provide, but I did pore over Privilege, Power and Difference by Allan Johnson, a book that has served as a bible to diversity and equity practitioners since its first publication in 2006. (It is now in its third edition.) Whenever I asked about this word “privilege”, colleagues would direct me to Johnson, so I decided to take their advice.

    Before putting this book under the microscope, it is only fair to point out that it hardly pretends to be a scholarly treatise; no work with a section entitled “How Capitalism Works” that occupies a scarce one and a half pages should be held to too high a standard. But it is exactly the popular, nonscholarly style that makes it a useful resource as a guide to common practice rather than deep argumentation.

    So how does Johnson explain privilege? In short, he admits the rights/privileges distinction in theory but ignores it in application. Right at the beginning he announces, “The trouble we’re in privileges some groups at the expense of others. It creates a yawning divide in levels of income, wealth, dignity, safety, health and quality of life.” (p. 7) So privilege is the same as inequality. And then: “Privilege is always at someone else’s expense and always exacts a cost. For everything that’s done to receive or maintain it—however passive and unconscious—results in suffering and deprivation for someone.” (p. 8) Thus all inequality takes the form of privilege, and all privilege is zero-sum.

    A bit later, however, and citing an earlier author, Johnson admits there might be distinctions within privilege. He adopts the term “unearned entitlements” to refer to inequalities in things all people should have (the emphasis is his) and “conferred dominance” for the power some have over others. So is this the same as our rights/privileges dichotomy? It’s not so simple. Yes, power is positional and constitutes a privilege in the older sense, but so are many inequalities of entitlement. He admits that “in some cases it’s possible to do away with unearned advantages without anyone losing out….[but] in many other cases, however, unearned advantage gives dominant groups a competitive edge they are reluctant to even acknowledge, much less give up….” (p. 23) Well yes, but then this means that the earlier distinction now appears within a subcategory of the general category of privilege, two levels down. That would be only a matter of inconvenience if Johnson were to retain the distinction, but he quickly abandons it, and throughout the rest of the book all inequalities are characterized as privileges, and all privileges are characterized as zero-sum. A typical quote: “I can’t have it both ways. If I’m going to welcome the way social categories work to my advantage, I also have to consider that when those same categories are used against others through no fault of their own, it then becomes my business because through that process I am being privileged at their expense.” (p. 119) If others have too little it is because I have too much. I can remedy their lack by giving up my excess.

    Anyone familiar with contemporary equity-speak recognizes this use of “privilege”. (I have been through several diversity and anti-oppression trainings myself.) It is also deeply embedded in equity discussions at Evergreen. One of the co-chairs of the Equity Council, for example, in a major public presentation, posed the question, “If equity is not about the willingness to give up something, what is it about?” No doubt this was understood as rhetorical.

    This framing of inequality has striking consequences for public communication. If we think that oppression is essentially the result of a culture that broadcasts some voices while silencing others, Johnson’s analysis fits like a glove. If the marginalized are to be heard, it means the privileged must be unheard in equal measure. And since, in practice, the abstraction of culture is located in each individual’s thoughts and expressions, this stricture applies to each privileged individual in each social situation. Here is another reason why dissent, especially if it emanates from less- or nonoppressed identities, must be silenced.

    Of course, there really are situations in which the total amount of feasible speech is more or less fixed, and greater voice for some means less for others. In my classroom seminars, for instance, I closely monitor who, individually and categorically, is holding the floor most often, and if I think some students need to be heard more I will intervene to try to rebalance participation. (I first try methods to break the existing pattern non-pejoratively and resort to direct appeals to the über-talkers only as a last resort.) Wherever there exists a relatively fixed space for communication, this dynamic has to be addressed. But many fora are not fixed or at least somewhat expandable. This obviously includes email (to our collective disadvantage) and many political contexts where more opportunities exist for expression than are normally taken advantage of. (There could easily be more political parties, more manifestos, more demonstrations, and so on.) A lot of political speech is both/and rather than either/or: we should hear from both currently represented and underrepresented groups, since it’s not necessary to hear less from one to hear more from the other. It is a small step from the view that communication is inherently zero-sum to a policy of managing who is entitled to say what.

    1. Sue in SoCal

      Thank you for this, Peter Dorman.

      Thanks for the piece, Yves. Interesting. The fam is originally from the East Coast. My 1st gen American father moved to Phoenix in the 40s. Believe me, “The Baby State” was a southern state indeed. I came home from elementary school and asked him what “Dixie” was. He said “don’t pay attention to that crap. The south is crazy. Ignore em.” No common ground for the dad. Well, that’s fine, but did I learn anything about the history of this country? Noooo….according to school, the slaves were cared for and happy! Just listen to these spirituals, class! I was at sea, let’s just say that. I thought the songs were incredibly sad. “Privilege,” as such, wasn’t an issue – ever.

      But I discovered southerners were not all “stupid and racist” when I had business conferences there. Some of my colleagues from the Midwest were worse. Hope I’m not too far afield…

      (Rest and recover, Yves! :)

  6. CanCyn

    I knew a community college instructor who attempted to teach her Communication 101 students the invisible backpack. It totally backfired on her. Many of them saw the same ‘insufferable sociological muck’ as workingclasshero. The rest simply got upset at being accused of being racist. Not what she said, of course, but nonetheless, what they inferred. Once they landed on the ‘I am not a racist’ reaction, there was no going any further than that. If it could somehow be modified and demonstrated more simply, it might, just might be a good place to start in helping people understand privilege and it’s insidious, systemic nature. I do think we need more than academic exercises in critical thinking. Jane Elliot’s blue eyes, brown eyes experiment, with all of its controversy, comes to mind, but that was about racism, not privilege.
    I see in MacIntosh’s work an aspect of critical theory too. This is but one lens with which to look at society, art or culture – I believe it adds to the us vs. them ditch that we have dug ourselves into. We need to start working on finding common ground and solving our wealth and healthcare inequality. I think some natural lessening of privilege and racism might occur.

  7. JEHR

    When I think about privilege I think about it as a pyramid with the very, very highly privileged at the top, the middle with some privileges, and people becoming lesser privileged as you go towards the bottom of the pyramid. Even among the unprivileged there are classes of differences. Only the most unprivileged hit rock bottom with nary a privilege over others. Such an awful world we human beings have made!

  8. Alfred

    Privilege is a defined word. People take that and apply it to themselves and others as something that they have, as if in some tome “it is written that” and Yves mentioned that this “caste system” varied from town to town. A lot of times people just make sh*t up about what their privilege is, and if they have enough personal power or strength or a gun, others will agree. Someone who holds a gun on you and demands your money is asserting his privilege to take your money without giving anything back, except maybe sparing your life. There’s not much room for discussion. Privilege is pretty much bullshit IMO and only agreement holds it together in the long run. It’s fear mainly that makes people agree.

  9. athingtoconsider

    Speaking of privilege without one mention that government privileges for banks favor the more so-called “creditworthy”, typically the richer, typically white, at the expense, one way or another, of the less so-called “creditworthy”, typically the poorer, typically non-white?

    Yeah, let’s ignore that elephant in the room…

  10. reefer man

    The USA, where class conflict has been cynically sold to the masses as race-based animosity.
    We may never get right.

  11. drumlin woodchuckles

    The spotlight is put on “white privilege” in order to keep the cameras away from Rich Privilege.

    No wonder Rich Corporations pay DeAngelo so much to conduct her “white privilege” trainings.

    No wonder someone with Academic Privilege ( and probably Tenure Privilege too) came up with “white privilege” to keep the cameras away from her own Academic Privilege ( and probably Tenure Privilege too).

    Here’s a solution to the “white privilege” problem. Police killing black people at a higher proportion than white people? Instruct the police to kill white people in the same proportion as they kill black people.
    Black infant mortality higher than white infant mortality? Lower health care for white mothers and infants to get white infant mortality as high as black infant mortality. Black people get followed around in stores more than white people? Follow white people around in stores just as much as black people are followed around. Etc. etc. etc.

    Hey, presto! ( As Kurt Vonnegut might would have said). No more “white privilege”! The problem is solved.

    Well, that’s the sort of solution that the inventors of “white privilege theory” invited when they invented “white privilege theory”. The solutions you get depend upon the way you frame the problem.

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