Hopeless in Portland: Analyzing ‘Privilege Speak’
“My ex-girlfriend, who is white, hates white people because she’s obsessed with the concept of white privelege. Wouldn’t she and you both do more good if you had some good things to say about everyone?”
In an online discussion of race and racism, a young white guy uttered the above. To break it down, his ex girlfriend hates white people because she is obsessed with white privilege. His conclusion, that “she hates white people because she’s obsessed with white privilege” is one of the more AMAZING comments I’ve ever seen.
Because she, I’m guessing, is opposed to/aware of, OR, anti-white privilege and TALKS about it, this causes alarm and discomfort in this young white man. He perceives her not being on board with white privilege as being anti-white or hating whites, though, she is white herself. Because I was critical of white privilege in the conversation, I assume he believes I hate white people or wish to do them harm. This is confirmed in his next sentence:
Wouldn’t she and you both do more good if you had some good things to say about everyone?
Now doing good, NOT talking about or being obsessed with white privilege, or simply saying good things about everyone (meaning white people), are synonymous, at least implicitly. Condemning racism and white supremacy would logically be bad. I was never good in logic, so would someone please explain that to me?!
It hurts me to be considered inherently racist just because I’m white, man. That’s not going to help the cause.
And I don’t have a great deal of understanding of the “white privelege” concept but it also sucks to hear people say that everything i’ve worked to become is based on social privelege rather than on my own efforts.
Dude, it hurts me to be strung up by the neck and thrown off a bridge and hear my neck snap like Cap’n Crunch. It hurts to be racially profiled, everyday, pulled over, followed in department stores, sold cocaine that black folks don’t fly over from Columbia. It hurts to be taught that you have no history, that civilization began in Europe when your people had been on the earth thousands of years before there was a Europe. It hurts to have ones people erased like a turd in a toilet bowl and then be told this country was founded by the white Pilgrims who did the flushing. But I digress…
This is a call for help. I need someone to explain to me where I have gone astray. I thought racism was a system. I thought it was a system that permeates, to paraphrase Neely Fuller, all eight or nine areas of people activity: labor, law, education, sports, entertainment, politics…and I’m spacing on the others. It is a global system, or so I believed, causing untold suffering to millions of non-white people.
But I could be wrong. This young white man believes that we live in a world where our own efforts define our trajectory, where speaking well of each other is the answer to the ills in the world, where having limited knowledge of certain concepts, like for example – white privilege – should not deter anyone (white) from speaking with authority.
Somebody teach me