“It’s difficult to acknowledge white privilege because it’s admitting you’ve got cheat codes the rest of society doesn’t”

white privilege

 

This comment by RyanH on the post Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person

I’m a Straight White Middle Class Able-Bodied Male, but I grew up right on the poverty line, especially after my parents divorced. Not as poor as you’ve described, but we were on food stamps for a long time and scraped by for everything. I was lucky to be a highly gifted student, so I went to a good college for free and got a good degree; now I’m solidly middle class. All that being said, I try to be conscious of white (male, straight, able) privilege every day and not take it for granted. I try not to invoke it at all, especially to the detriment of other people. But I do recognize I’ve enjoyed advantages because of it. It’s difficult to acknowledge white privilege because it’s admitting you’ve got cheat codes the rest of society doesn’t. I don’t like it, to be honest. It disturbs me that I’m afforded privileges not afforded to others. However, acknowledging it is the first step towards affording those same privileges to the rest of society. People who enjoy white privilege have to -actively assert- that others deserve those same privileges, and call out those who attempt to deny them to non-white (straight, male, able) individuals.

People who share my demographic and location (hyper-conservative South Carolina) generally refuse to acknowledge white privilege, whether passively or actively. These people feel threatened when other groups ask for the same privileges they’ve enjoyed for centuries, institutionalized into the very fabric of society. I think that’s a natural, but negative reaction…it’s visceral, animalistic, Darwinian. It has to be consciously overcome.

So yes, white privilege makes me uncomfortable but I think in a way opposite from what you’re asking.

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Let’s Start a Conversation:

Is White privilege different from economic & education opportunities, family wealth, beauty, talent, loving support or any other kind of privilege?

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Comments

  1. Can you better explain what these privileges are, and how they apply to me?

  2. Theorema Egregium says:

    It all depends on what “whiteness” means to you: biological (white skin is white skin) or sociological (as seems to be common with “progressive” thinkers). In the latter case President Barack Obama is white, while Maria, the Roma girl is not white.

    Incidentally, this is all just US-American thinking. In my European country the social discussion is much less about “color”. That is because large parts of our immigrant groups/minorities are of light skin color too.

  3. This is a great blog on the subject, straight white male, the lowest difficulty setting there is. http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-the-lowest-difficulty-setting-there-is/

    • Cept in war, then being male is the hardest difficulty. ;)

      If privilege is blind to those who have it, does that mean women have privilege? And basically everyone?

      • 1. Being the sex who is primarily drafted doesn’t mean you have it the hardest during a war (even if drafting was still really an issue). The vast majority of deaths in any war tend to be the deaths of civilians. Who can be (and are) any gender.
        2. Yes. Women have privilege. White women, Able bodied women, straight women, cis women, nuerotypical women etc. Yes. Basically everyone has privilege of some sort. I mean yeah, there’s probably a black trans lesbian with both severe autism and cerebral palsy living in a third world country somewhere with no privileges to speak of. But in general. Yes basically everyone has one form of privilege or another.

        • 1. Its more than just the draft. Just as women were discouraged from fighting in the military men were encouraged to do so to the point that it has for a long time been hailed as a defining mark of one’s manhood. Men were taught and led to believe that they were supposed to be the warriors that protect the homeland. And then to top it all off once those men go off and fight and come back damaged they are usually left to the wayside (just look at how much of a shamble veteran care is).

          2. So why is female privilege so adamantly denied? (I’m not saying you deny it but it very often is).

  4. “Let’s Start a Conversation:

    Is White privilege different from economic & education opportunities, family wealth, beauty, talent, loving support or any other kind of privilege?”

    Is this question sarchasm? If not, I think I don’t understand it.

    White privilege is based on being…white. Where the following privileges would be based on (at least) money: Economic / Education Opportunities / Family Wealthy. Beauty could be based on race, but I would wager it’s more about weight (at least in the US…). Talent – I think it would depend on what the talent is in, loving support – I would call that mental health privilege, if such a thing exists…

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