human behavior

White Privilege

Posted in American Culture & Politics, Race & Ethnicity by humanb on May 2, 2010

On Tea Partiers:

Protest is only seen as fundamentally American when those who have long had the luxury of seeing themselves as prototypically American engage in it.

White anti-racism crusader, Tim Wise

In the same article, Wise also defines white privilege as:

The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.

I’ve never been particularly interested in exploring the concept of ‘white privilege’. It seems to me an unfortunate fact of life that the majority group in any society will maintain the kind of privileges Wise describes. This only changes when the majority shrinks as a percentage of the population and a minority group grows in sheer numbers or in representation in positions of power.

Thus in the US, while the percentage of blacks hasn’t grown much, a greater percentage of us have entered positions of power, and we therefore exercise more (though still comparatively lesser) influence on what constitutes acceptable public behavior.

Of course, this applies only to blacks. Society will continue to find it acceptable to de-Americanize and delegitimize the attitudes and actions of other minority groups until their numbers in the halls of power grow. This is the nature of man.

Still, if we aspire to become a just and equitable nation, I suppose it’s critical that we at least understand our own nature. Only then is it possible to change – if not our instincts – then our acts.

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