To You Who Deny White Privilege, 5 Lessons To Take Advantage Of Yours
The people who ‘deny white privilege’ or just ‘privilege’ all together don’t know how to use there’s to their advantage so I was inspired to help.
To begin, it seems they misunderstand what it is.
‘White privilege’ is the resulting ‘tide’ of the world that plays within the system we’re all trying to play in.
The same world that’s reached a higher state of enlightenment which should be trying to make progress, but more importantly, is the result of how human beings cooperate.
Therefore ‘white privilege’, or any ‘privilege’ is often the result of effective human cooperation which requires core values and belief systems to align to communicate well.
This is why groups of people for time immemorial have worked together based on core values and beliefs and why we have ‘culture fits’ at work.
Yet this is the exact point of this piece, and the reason most I’ve seen who ‘deny white privilege’ aren’t able to understand that it’s the result they’ve created for themselves because they’re bad at cooperating with others in the first place, aka being ‘successful’ or whatever you want to call it in this context of work and power in America.
The purpose of this piece is not to say white privilege does or doesn’t exist — but mostly that we misunderstand what’s been coined as ‘white privilege’.
And to the people (of course not all) who run around yelling that ‘there’s no such thing’ as ‘white privilege’ or ‘privileges’ in general, I want to clarify a few things so they can better take advantage of their own privileges no matter what color they are.
But yes, this piece was inspired by a white guy who was denying any and all privilege and clearly didn’t understand how to take advantage of his own.
But First, Some Context on Me— My Experience Working In America And How I View ‘Privilege’
I’m an Iranian American son of immigrants born and raised in the Washington DC area — so definitely not ‘white’.
I come from an educated family who worked hard to make it here and I do empathize with the people who inspired this article.
I certainly feel privileged for the result my family and I created for ourselves.
I’m now privileged because I worked hard and played the American game of capitalism as best I can and yes having my family help and support helped me in a few cases where I needed it.
So I made myself a privileged person in America though it’s mostly because I worked hard and made myself / ourselves get lucky.
I accomplished this mostly by surrounding myself with the people I wanted to be like, and the people I’d eventually need to cooperate with to win in this system.
So in a way, the culture and values I created matched to those (of all colors) of people in power. And of course, many and most of the people in power happen to be white.
Sharing belief systems, values, and understandings are what make effective cooperation possible and what matters most in all myriad contexts we’re talking about.
‘White privilege’ today, ends up happening because of how humans cooperate pragmatically. As in, cooperating toward a common goal is hard. Very very hard. It’s exceptionally hard. I’ve watched this first hand doing start up companies the last ten years.
So while most of the time you’re hunting for the ‘culture fit’, it’s resulting in discrimination.
I’m not saying people don’t discriminate like crazy (they do) or that there isn’t systemic, subconscious and racism that exists.
But in the context of most daily Americans who aren’t racist and to our disgruntled white friend who feels like he has no privilege in his world, this is what I feel like he’s missing and why he hasn’t taken advantage of his own privilege.
He likely has the mindset of ‘working to get paid’ or ‘I rely completely on myself’ etc. etc.’
So if I’m spending all day with you working toward a particular goal, it would make sense to be on the same wavelength when it comes to beliefs, values etc.
And yes, even share personal stories and friendship based on ‘tribal similarities.
It’s how we’ve cooperated for thousands of years and more, whether it’s hiring at work, making policy decisions or being a worker on the hill trying to get promoted to make those policy decisions.
It’s less about race (though yes there are deeply engrained forms of racism in our consciousness and that is a very important but different article), it’s about how we cooperate as humans which is why we do actually have (again, not saying the result is equal but I’ll get to it) all kinds of people in power.
Ie. Barak Obama was able to cooperate with people in power whether they were white or black. Did he have it 100x harder than a white person because of it, definitely.
The result is these forces clearly make it harder for someone to achieve over time if there are cultural differences with people you’re trying to work with but it’s not necessarily about race, rather, it becomes a pragmatic decision at that particular decision point.
So culturally, in the work context, in an arena where most of the people happen to be white (and yes some or many may even be racist but even assuming if all weren’t), Barak Obama is easier to cooperate with because to cooperate effectively, sharing belief systems and values is critical.
This is why being a ‘culture fit’ at work is important.
Not about race, though it does end up working against people of color.
Pragmatically, it’s about beliefs and values — being on the same ‘wavelength’ to best work together.
‘Privilege’ Isn’t Conscious, Malicious, Or Even On Purpose
Humans cooperate imperfectly, the ‘white privilege’ part has become the by-product of that cooperation in America.
What makes human beings better yet more imperfect than others is their ability to cooperate in large numbers.
We’re the species that has the capacity to engrain beliefs in consciousness so deeply, that it’s very hard to get rid of them (why racism still exists today even though a person may not realize it does) even after decades and hundreds of years (though this is not a lot of time in the grand scheme of centient, conscious beings).
We can even believe made up myths so deeply to the point we’d kill ourselves. Isn’t that fascinating yet crazy?
“You couldn’t promise a group of chimpanzes endless bananas in monkey heaven and get them to believe you like you can with humans and religion.” -Dr. Yuval Noah Harari
When you look at what what makes teams of people cooperate well, it’s values and belief systems.
Naturally, when you want to work with someone, you want to ‘operate on the same wavelength’ which often means sharing many of the same philosophies, understandings, knowledge and values.
It’s more out of being practical than being racist or privileged or whatever though it certainly appears that way and the result ends up being discrimination.
This is why ‘culture fit’ at companies is such a critical piece to a company’s hiring practices — it leads to success. If people aren’t a good culture fit, they don’t work well together.
So if you look at people in any positions of hiring where they’re accountable for results, they’re going to optimize for effective cooperation.
This is why you’ll see a team of bankers who all look the same who may happen to be mostly white.
Or ever see teams of Latino/Indian/Iranian/Chinese/Brazilian/Russian/Ethopian etc. work together and exclusively hire one another at work? All the time.
They’re taking advantage of their privilege.
They aren’t racist, they’re just cooperating as best they can and sharing value systems and beliefs is effective in the work context.
Yes, if you’re blatantly making decisions because of skin color, you’re a racist scum bag. But I don’t believe this is the cause or reason of the tide that has become ‘white privilege’.
Though there’s of course a serious conscious and unconscious problem of racism that’s still deeply engrained in consciousness, a long with the system of our country, for the purpose of this piece, assume it’s the majority of the country who isn’t a racist rather is more oblivious to the tide that is ‘privilege’ based on pedigree or connections etc.
You can argue that Indians and Ethiopians practice their ‘privileges’ the same way whites do. This is by no means racist, it’s how people cooperate best.
Again, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t try to diversify for diversifications sake or that this is ideal or right. But in a pragmatic sense, when you’re trying to achieve a goal (which is hard enough on it’s own) it makes sense to work/mate/choose etc. people who share values, belief systems — independent of race or not.
Now, allow me to pause, I’m not saying there aren’t deeply programmed tribal bonds that drive subconscious decision making (why I bro out with a group of Persian dudes) or that given whites today, in our more enlightened world, shouldn’t recognize that there’s a disproportionate amount of power in their hands and should be off-set somehow but that’s a very important but different discussion. Yes, we’ve reached a state of affairs and state of human enlightenment where we can acknowledge that if a particular group, has a ton of power, and it’s being abused ( which it very much is and has been in this past century), we shouldn’t acknowledge it or do anything about it. We should.
The context here is for the pissed off ‘privilege denyer’ who usually complains about when they feel like they don’t get any help and deny the existence of privileges at all.
So back to our scheduled programming:
To our friends who deny that ‘white privilege doesn’t exist’, here are five ways to take advantage of yours:
1. It’s Not About Race, It’s About Your Low Standards So Raise Yours
Aim higher. Grow personally and professionally.
You’re probably working hard to make ends meet which is fair, but it’s because you’re likely not as good at cooperating with others (or show expertise and competency), which is also the same reason you’re unable to recognize why and how ‘white privilege’ works in the applicable contexts of your life.
So all you see is how ‘hard your life is’ and how no one does you any favors so again aren’t able to understand how to use your privilege.
Raise your standards and you’ll attract others with those standards who can provide you ‘privilege’ to get ahead.
2. Hangout With People Who Are in Positions Of Power To Learn From Them
Hangout with people you can learn from and are smarter than you.
Dead end job? Hangout with whites, blacks, latinos — anyone for that matter who you can learn from.
The blacks and latinos will more likely want to hangout if your’e white because they’d be getting ahead by hanging out with you if you’re white.
Learn from them and take advantage of your white privilege by hanging out with people in power.
3. Learn To Love Reading
This addiction transformed my life and it would probably transform yours. I promise if you read a lot about humanity, the mind, the world, anything really, you’d eventually understand how to take advantage of your white privilege.
4. Network With Others You Want To Be Like
Most people are successful because of their networks of friends. Yes the work you do matters but in today’s competitive world with the internet and 7 billion people, you need great work and friends in high places.
Makes sense right?
The more people you know in positions who can increase your chances for success, the more you will rise as they rise and you will help each other.
Another way to take advantage of your white privilege.
5. Put Yourself in An Environment That Will Force You To Take Advantage Of Your White Privilege
Don’t go to the bar. Go to the symphony.
Try to meet with someone who’s in a position of privilege or power and learn from them and elevate yourself. They’re usually very kind and willing to help a hard working aspiring anything you’re looking to become.
Perhaps they can elevate you. You’ll learn about values and belief systems of others who know how to use white privilege.
Practice these five things and you’ll have a strong foundation to take advantage of your privilege. Send me notes to help.
Thanks for reading. Please recommend the piece if you made it this far and enjoyed it or were provoked by it. Thank you for reading and commenting.