The concept of privilege, especially used the way it is today is a tricky one. In this article I'm going to climb down into the weeds of statistics, opinions, and truth, to find a reasonable explanation for the differences in racial groups we see today. I'm going to investigate where the concept of white privilege originated and how the term evolved to the point it is at today. I will look for possible correlations for differences of treatment and outcomes of different racial groups and attempt to explain some of the reasons, whatever they may be, behind these differences.
Most of the information I will address is in response to this article.
Before I begin I would like to define some terms. In this essay I will be generally looking at the white and non-white populations. Because Caucasians are such a large majority it makes it simpler to look at these groups as a whole, but the majority of non-white people are either African-American or Hispanic or Latino. Most of the issues addressed here will be more applicable to the differences between Caucasian and African-American people, which I will colloquially refer to as white and black for the sake of readability and simplicity.
It is also important to note that the consensus currently is that race and ethnicity differ, so Hispanic is an ethnicity and African-American is a race.
According to The US Census Bureau:
The concept of race is separate from the concept of Hispanic origin. Percentages for the various race categories add to 100 percent, and should not be combined with the percent Hispanic.
White. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. It includes people who indicate their race as "White" or report entries such as Irish, German, Italian, Lebanese, Arab, Moroccan, or Caucasian.
Black or African American. A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa. It includes people who indicate their race as "Black or African American," or report entries such as African American, Kenyan, Nigerian, or Haitian.
American Indian and Alaska Native. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment. This category includes people who indicate their race as "American Indian or Alaska Native" or report entries such as Navajo, Blackfeet, Inupiat, Yup'ik, or Central American Indian groups or South American Indian groups.
Asian. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam. This includes people who reported detailed Asian responses such as: "Asian Indian," "Chinese," "Filipino," "Korean," "Japanese," "Vietnamese," and "Other Asian" or provide other detailed Asian responses.
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands. It includes people who reported their race as "Fijian," "Guamanian or Chamorro," "Marshallese," "Native Hawaiian," "Samoan," "Tongan," and "Other Pacific Islander" or provide other detailed Pacific Islander responses.
Two or more races. People may choose to provide two or more races either by checking two or more race response check boxes, by providing multiple responses, or by some combination of check boxes and other responses. For data product purposes, "Two or More Races" refers to combinations of two or more of the following race categories: "White," "Black or African American," American Indian or Alaska Native," "Asian," Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander," or "Some Other Race"
This is the source I used for my percentages of race as well as my definitions of race. Please feel free to investigate the studies yourself.
Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, “white privilege” was less commonly used but generally referred to legal and systemic advantages given to white people by the United States, such as citizenship, the right to vote or the right to buy a house in the neighborhood of their choice.
The term "white privilege" originated to describe real racism. The ability to vote and exercise basic freedoms was something only white people had, thus the term, "white privilege."
Today the term has been weaponized to refer to some inherent advantage white people have simply because of the fact that they are white.
One huge claim in an article I recently read on tolerance.org was that white privilege is being able to walk into a store and see products designed for their hair type, skin tone, and traditions, without having to go to an "ethnic" section for specialty products. Now I will allow that in the past this was probably more true, but in our current day I have a difficult time looking through a hair care section in a super market without seeing products specifically designed for people with different hair textures. That's simply anecdotal however, and I presume there are others who have had a different experience.
Now to look for some reason behind this, we can look at the population by race. According to this table by the US Census Bureau, white people make up 76.6% of the population of the United States. This in itself should explain the imbalance in product marketing. Companies, (at least good ones), do not conduct business for the sake of signaling virtue or being as inclusive as possible, they exist solely to make a profit. The beauty of the free market is that anyone can make their way to sell whatever they want, as long as there is a demand for that product or service. Companies cater to the majority. It doesn't make sense for stores to carry the same amount of products catered toward people of color as they do for whites. It doesn't make sense for companies to manufacture the same amount of goods marketed directly at people of color. These products exist, are available to the minority that are black people, and because of our current outrage culture and lack of free thinking individuals are now almost just as readily available as products for white people. The fact that stores didn't carry them had nothing to do with the race of the consumer, it had everything to do with the fact that whites are an overwhelming majority.
If being a majority in any country is a privilege, just nuke the world now. I wholly support companies making products for people with different needs and preferences, and thanks to the free market, this is easily doable. I have nothing against seeing more products for people with textured hair in Hannaford, but I will not be blamed for being part of a majority and as a result having certain things more readily available to me.
Another touted inequality is the representation that white people experience in media. Well, as we just discussed, this would be largely due to the fact that the overwhelming majority of the country is white. Based on this list of the top TV shows of 2018 by The New York Times, I can easily conclude that non-whites are actually vastly overrepresented. Just the cover photo for the article contains two black men, an Asian woman, two white men and a white woman. Based on the easily accessible statistics referenced earlier, this means whites are actually being underrepresented. That's completely fine. Let the best actors for roles play those parts no matter their race. But don't complain there are too many white people in the media when it is very obviously not the case.
When we examine some of the titles the article references, we make some interesting finds. America to Me, a documentary about a high school in Chicago that features almost exclusively black people, is the second show on the list. The third show is Atlanta, again starring majority black actors, and while many other shows on the list are majority white, they do feature black characters. The bottom line of this is: if you want to watch a good show where black people are a majority, you can. If you want to watch a good show where white people are the majority, you can. In both of these situations life is realistically portrayed and no one is being oppressed. No one is censoring shows about black individuals, the differences arise again because of population. Additionally you have the issue of storyline. You wouldn't expect to see a black person in a show about a white family and their hijinks in America, the same way you wouldn't expect to see white people in media produced in Nairobi.
To conclude this section, African-American representation in the media is actually quite high, so that is essentially a lie. Products made more readily available to the white majority is good marketing, not systemic oppression.
Another fact that this specific article referenced was the higher probability of people of color to be targeted by police, killed by police, or generally judged by the public as criminals based on "racial profiling."
Now its not difficult to find stats for this type of thing. This report shows that the majority of unarmed people killed by police officers in 2017 were actually white. The numbers are as follows: White, 51 people, Black, 49 people, Hispanic, 34 people, 11 remain unknown and 2 Native American and Asian were each killed as well. Now the point of the data was to show that more non-whites had been killed than whites, and I suppose that's true. But if you consider the fact that black people are more likely to commit a crime, (by number of members of the racial group,) even though they are a minority, this shouldn't really be a surprise.
0.02% of white people committed a crime in 2017. 0.05% of black citizens committed a crime the same year. The results are consistent if you go through the years, and again, this information is all available online for anyone to check themselves. In fact I encourage you to stop now and look at some of the stats cited. Check for yourself to ensure I am not embellishing data.
White people are not privileged to not be profiled by police, they simply commit less crimes. Now there must be a reason for this right? In the US in 2016, 24% of white children live in single parent homes. Contrasting this a staggering 66% of African-American children with only one parent at home. Most of the time this is a single mother, and often she has more than one child. In addition to this, 72% of African-American births are out of wedlock. (2013) In 2017, 77% of black children were born to a single mother, as opposed to 30% of white children. Research has shown consistently that children who grow up in single parent homes are more likely to commit crimes and drop out of high school. 5.2% of white youth drop out of high school, while the number for black youth is 6.2%
So the correlation is clear: black people are more likely to have children out of wedlock, live in single parent homes, drop out of high school, and therefore commit crimes. People who commit crimes at a higher rate are more likely to be profiled by police when they share characteristics, and while everyone deserves equal opportunity to have their name cleared for anything they have been accused of, the outcomes speak for themselves. This isn't to say that there aren't evil racism cops who kill black people because they hate them, it's just that very few people would ever agree with them, and they should objectively be punished for committing murder, regardless of who it is they kill.
Racialism is defined by most dictionaries as synonymous with racism, but many people use it as a broader term. For example, racism is bigotry against as individual for the color of their skin, racialism is bigotry towards an entire ethnic group for their differences.
This is simply a terrible way to look at it. First of all, any racial difference commonly pointed out, such as those I have already addressed in this essay, is easily supported by facts, and is caused either by simple differences in population, or is caused by the racial group themselves.
For example, black people tend to live within their own communities. As do Hispanics and Caucasians. There's nothing wrong with this until you start complaining that people when treat you differently when you are consciously choosing to live surrounded by others of the same race as you. Within majority black communities there is a higher crime rate, higher poverty rate, and more single mothers. These are simple facts that can be accessed by anyone at any time. The insistence that white people are being racialist by living with other white people and existing is ridiculous.
Both racism and bias rely on what sociologists call racialization. This is the grouping of people based on perceived physical differences, such as skin tone. This arbitrary grouping of people, historically, fueled biases and became a tool for justifying the cruel treatment and discrimination of non-white people. Colonialism, slavery and Jim Crow laws were all sold with junk science and propaganda that claimed people of a certain “race” were fundamentally different from those of another—and they should be treated accordingly. And while not all white people participated directly in this mistreatment, their learned biases and their safety from such treatment led many to commit one of those most powerful actions: silence.
Starting from where we haven't yet covered, there is no arbitrary grouping of people. Black people choose to surround themselves with other black people and that's their choice and completely ok. Saying it historically fueled bias is at least partially true, but are they not being biased against whites in this very article?
Next we look at the next sentence one word at a time.
Colonialism is actually not evil. White and specifically British colonialism has helped pave the way for technological advances in India and Africa. While murder and the wiping out of populations was not morally acceptable, much of the land taken by colonialists was tribal land, essentially unclaimed by indigenous tribes who didn't know how to farm properly and didn't, most times, even have permanent dwellings. Interestingly we never hear about the Mongol conquests throughout the world, widely regarded as some of the most brutal and deadly wars in history, but we hear incessant complaining about how Europeans wiped out Native Americans when they settled America.
Zimbabwe passed racist laws in 2000 banning whites from owning land and essentially taking it out from under them. Whites, mostly of Dutch descent, owned approximately 70% of farmable land in the country. After whites were successfully kicked out of the country , Zimbabwe experienced a 12 Billion dollar loss in agricultural production. They were forced to accept handouts from neighboring countries just to feed their people, and Zimbabwe was essentially forced to ask the white farmers to return and take back over the farming.
Whites were actually the first group to outlaw slavery and put an end to it. Many whites in America never owned slaves, and blacks were the ones selling slaves to the European traders. No racial group is exempt from guilt when it comes to slavery. So saying whites were silent is blatantly false, and history shows this very clearly. In fact, slavery still exists in some parts of the world, perpetuated mostly by Muslims.
A huge claim by those on the left is that we live in a world that worships white men. What they fail to ever mention is that white men invented pretty much every single modern commodity, and white men are responsible for the majority of scientific advances in the world. Nothing stops anyone else from making a name for themselves, and it's time we stop blaming slavery, because there was an entire country full of black people who could have made any number of advances with no restrictions. No one forced white men to make discoveries, and today no one stops black men from doing the same.
This article dives into racial hiring bias and what it really is in depth. One quote from the beginning struck me though:
There is also evidence that inner-city blacks often do poorly in job interviews in part because they lack the work experience that is so often a focal point of the interview, and in part because of race and class related differences in culture.
We've already gone over the differences in crime rates and high-school completion rates by race, so the next logical step is the job market. According to the quote above, many black people lack job experience that would make them better candidates for jobs they interview for. This can be linked to the higher crime rate and lower high school completion rate. Anyone can learn skills young and finish high-school. Anyone can choose not to have a child but instead get a job and learn a skill. These are basic fixes to problems illustrated in the fact that companies have to institute hiring quotas just to seem inclusive, due to that fact that they can not find enough people of color to fill the positions.
Again there are bad people. Some bosses would not hire a black person because of genuine racism. But that is exceedingly rare. Most people will hire whoever is most fit for the job, based on merit and performance, not skin color.
These differences we see are not because of skin color, they are a result of cultural beliefs that permeate black culture. Growing up without a father is damaging. Not finishing high-school is damaging. These things and more contribute to the lack of opportunities for African-Americans in the workforce.
Why are most successful businessmen, politicians, and leaders white? Well it comes down to the cultural differences discussed here. Different cultures raise children to aspire to different things. They raise their boys with different pictures of what it means to earn something. The dictionary defines earn as "gain deservedly in return for one's behavior or achievements." This means that those who work will receive something in return. The people who provide the most value will make the most money. The person with the best ideas will run the company. CEOs are some of the most busy people on the planet. Anyone who says they were handed anything because of race or any other arbitrary measure is simply wrong.
Harvard professors Michael Porter and Nitin Nohria tracked how 27 CEOs...of companies with an average annual revenue of $13.1 billion spent their days. Data was collected from the CEOs in 15 minutes increments, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for three months. Overall, the study collected 60,000 CEO hours.
It reveals, on average, the leaders worked 9.7 hours per weekday, which totals just 48.5 hours per workweek. They also worked 79 percent of weekend days at an average of 3.9 hours daily, and 70 percent of vacation days with an average of 2.4 hours on those days. Altogether, the study found that CEOs worked an average of 62.5 hours a week.
As clearly represented, these men and women spend the majority of their time working. On weekends and vacations even. They put in extra hours and receive extra benefits. Literally more time was spent working than sleeping. Many people, regardless of race, are not willing to do that.
Now in government it's a similar situation. The most qualified people are elected, (most of the time,) and those who put in extra work to win people over come out on top. Especially in today's political climate you'd have an extremely difficult time claiming a person of color was not elected because of their race.
The personal faults or missteps of white people will likely not be used to later deny opportunities or compassion to people who share their racial identity.
So blaming all white people for racism and slavery even though the majority of Americans don't even have ancestors who owned slaves isn't this? I'll just leave it at that. Draw your own conclusions.
The main difference between winners and losers is winner take ownership of everything and use the knowledge to become better, while losers blame others and refuse to improve, blaming the system or anything except themselves. This is what we see here. The sooner people stop blaming systemic bias and white privilege for their own life choices, the sooner we can begin to work toward a country where people get along and share responsibilities. We need to teach kids to want to earn, rather than blame privilege. Winning takes effort, and if we acknowledge the effort people put in to win, the country will be a much better place.