The Problem of White Privilege

A recent series of events at Moody raised the issue of white privilege once again. Here’s the contribution of one professor at Moody to the discussion. And here’s a link to some of the responses. Obviously, nerve hit.

Here’s one of the more cogent critiques of the whole thing by John McWhorter. Here’s a bit:

For that reason, I question this particular focus on sessions, modules, readings, and talks commanding whites to reflect endlessly about their privileged status. When parents are watching their 8-year-olds herded into racial groups for White Privilege teach-ins, they are neither racist nor “privileged” in being angry (especially since a lot of them aren’t what would have been considered “white” a decade or more ago). They deserve civil answers to their questions. The white high schooler who doesn’t get why she needs to be smilingly commanded to recognize her status as an unjustly “privileged” white person is not a racist because she doesn’t “get” it. She deserves to be given a rationale, and if that rationale is essentially a repetition of the White Privilege lesson paradigm, then we need to ask some more questions.

There are all kinds of privilege – race, class, gender, education, regional and even local (even to the zip code level) – and this list is not exhaustive. There must be a bitter way forward than mutual recriminations. I believe there is.

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