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What is White Privilege?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
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  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2016
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White privilege is a term used to describe the unintentional benefits given to people of Caucasian descent. Experts are divided over the presence and prevalence of white privilege in modern society; some believe it is a serious problem with little hope of solutions, while others consider it a dwindling concept in the modern world.

Privilege may be defined as a benefit given to a group simply because they are members of that group. White privilege is often referred to as being "invisible" because the recipients may be unaware that they are in a race-based system of decisions. The concept of white privilege is not simply determined by whether you believe in the superiority of one race or not. It is a generational problem, in the United States tracing back to the earliest days of the colonies, with European interaction with Native American, Central American and African populations. Centuries of laws which were clearly preferential toward white people have allowed family fortunes in white families to be more easily maintained and passed down. Some families in America still maintain power and money from those days, giving them a natural advantage particularly in terms of wealth.

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Some studies done in the 21st century have shown that white-preferred hiring and housing practices are still unofficially in effect, even for candidates with identical backgrounds. Despite a clear shift toward equality in racial politics since the late 20th century, some studies show that white people are still far more likely to get better positions and more job offers than non-whites, particularly African Americans. Some experts suggest that this may be due to the racial and age makeup of company leadership; an older, often less equal-rights minded generation is still in charge of most businesses.

Many experts who argue that white privilege is a widespread problem point to public education as a major factor in the system continuing. Children in classrooms are often divided by ability, and as white children are generally better prepared for school due to early learning opportunities, they are often segregated from minority children and placed above them in skill level. While dividing by skill level can’t be accurately considered racist, it often can break down classrooms incidentally by race. Some also believe that it is unfair to teach standard English as the correct form of language learning, as it doesn’t take dialects or cultural differences in learning styles into account.

A vocal minority argues that many make too big of a deal about white privilege. They are quick to point out the hundreds of scholarships and programs available to minority children and college age students that are determined by race, and not available to white students. Many also point out that free speech is limited by fear of appearing racist; in polite society, certain words are considered unbelievably racist when said by a white person, although the standard does not apply equally to all races. There are certainly examples of white people adversely affected by race relations, yet some people believe that racism against whites or anti-white privilege should not be spoken of, or counts as racism.

The goal of most progressive race relations is to get beyond terms such as white privilege, not by ignoring statistics about race related issues, but by solving them. Studies indicate that white privilege is still a clear problem in many areas, most particularly throughout the American justice and economics systems. Yet with the first generation born after the Civil Rights movement reaching their 40s and coming to power, it does look hopeful that the effects of racism and privilege will continue to diminish as time moves forward. Race relations are not an unmovable line of inequality, and the changes that have already been made, as African-American Senator Barack Obama said in 2008, “gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.”

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Alexb65
Post 9

This does not explain why Asian students outperform whites though. Even with transracial adoption studies, asians tend to score higher on IQ tests. Rushton, J. P., & Jensen, A. R. (2005). Thirty years of research on race differences in cognitive ability. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 11, 235-

Don't give any credibility to this observation of so-called "Asian Student Superiority". All what you see and touch from our European-based system of government, laws, culture, medicine, technology, cars, airplanes, cell phones, television and all the thousands of other, basically everything, is the work of the white mind. No Asian, no anybody else.

What happens today in the United States is that whites have been displaced from their ancestral environment. For the past

50 years they've been abandoning their cities and towns where they had been living for decades among other white people, friends and acquaintances. Their lives were normal and they could dedicate themselves to the pursuit of further education, knowing that they would find easy employment and acceptance because out there they had to deal only with their own people, people of the same race, and not deal with any rejection or discrimination.

Today, the white students feel isolated, having moved from one place to another with their families to escape black and Hispanic criminality and other people moving into their neighborhoods and they have to compete in an unfriendly, non-white environment for jobs and other opportunities and deal with discrimination.

At school, most of the time, they are in the lowest minority and bullied and assaulted by non-whites. Their parents have problem finding work even from white employers who would easily hire a black or Hispanic or other non-white, rather than give a chance to a white person. Asians, being a protected and isolationist group, benefit from their status and being protected by the government don't have the same problem that oppressed and demoralized white students have.

White students see the prospects of advancement with this discriminatory system geared only to lift up non-whites are very low, and combined with continuous white flight, what they do? They drop out or lose the passion to achieve high grades in education. It's not that Asians have a better intellect than whites. This is a lie.

What I say also covers the plight of whites and their need to be able to live among their own white people and not to be forced to live with others. It's against natural laws and against our right of freedom of association to push us whites to forcibly live with non-whites with whom we have nothing in common.

anon332723
Post 8

Yeah. Old white men are so narcissistic!

anon323475
Post 7

Intolerance and idiocy are hardly the monopoloy of any social category but when whites display it becomes an acceptable basis for social policy.

White privilege is when people agree to equate the racial prejudice of jim crow racism with anti-racist affirmative action because we all know that anti-black oppression is precisely as bad as relatively tepid measures to redress historical wrongs and right the social imbalances that white racism so lovingly manufactured.

I recommend reading: "Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society by Michael K. Brown, Martin Carnoy, Elliott Currie, Troy Duster, and David B. Oppenheimer."

anon159840
Post 6

To Bob017: The difference isn't whether the child is white, black, brown or yellow. Rather, much of the difference in educational differentials is a result of institutionalized favoring towards certain groups, and group ethos.

For example, many studies and research have found that a particular worldview of Asians and hard work ethic is what pushes them to do so well on all types of tests. Many asians are pushed to excel, right from being young children, and are in environments that are cohesive to their excelling. Chinese children are not "naturally smarter" than black children, but many times, due to different socio-economic statuses and obstacles faced by blacks (including embedded, institutionalized racism, low income, lack of good support system

, educational opportunities, etc.), different types of asians are more successful.

Also, consider that blacks in the United States have been victims of slavery for centuries, and victims of internalized racist policies and societies. Asians and many other ethnic minority groups are more recent immigrants to North America, and these immigrants are usually from the middle class skilled worker category, so they occupy both a different status, and worldview than blacks. Already, many of these immigrants, though these face racism, do not have to fight against the systemic, cyclic poverty that blacks have been in since slavery.

Some good food for thought.

BioNerd
Post 5

How do we draw the line between racism and this "white privilege" mentality? It seems to me that the line is often quite blurred, allowing truly racist people to hide behind a veil, as well as leaving people who accidentally appear to be racist open to false accusations.

The secret to the race war is forgiveness and a liberal application of the benefit of the doubt, as well as a realization that we are all fundamentally the same, and the term "race" is somewhat arbitrary.

BigBloom
Post 4

@Armas1313 - These questions could be taken as statements, since you seem to imply that the answer to both is "no." While I would agree that there are certainly fundamentally American ways of determining how proficient a child is, I believe that this is one of the main points of the article.

There are certain ways of teaching (in America) which favor children whose thinking is more American, instead of being flexible and diverse in accepting and helping children grow into their own cultural expectations.

Armas1313
Post 3

@Bob017 - Would test-taking comprise the primary assessment of educational proficiency in America? Aren't creative ability, innovation, independent thinking, etc., also key factors in determining ability, particularly in America?

Bob017
Post 1

"as white children are generally better prepared for school due to early learning opportunities, they are often segregated from minority children and placed above them in skill level."

This does not explain why Asian students outperform whites though. Even with transracial adoption studies, asians tend to score higher on IQ tests. Rushton, J. P., & Jensen, A. R. (2005). Thirty years of research on race differences in cognitive ability. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 11, 235- 294

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