You’re trafficking in a lot of currently trendy and stereotypical cliches about the relationship between blacks and whites, but they’re obscuring the real issues. There are at least three separate questions at issue:
- Should blacks and whites be integrated and equal? (I think we both agree they should.)
- Are they currently integrated and equal in all or most significant respects? (I think we both agree they are not.)
- What is the best strategy for achieving full integration and equality? (This is where the disagreement seems to be.)
I separated these questions out because you’ve devoted space to trying to convince me that blacks, essentially, still have the short end of the stick in America in 2016, and it’s not an issue as to which I disagree. I simultaneously hold the views that (i) in terms of poor material circumstances and natural implicit bias that follows when a racially marked group is disproportionately represented in the underclass, blacks certainly have it worse than virtually all others in America and are largely victims of this kind of institutional and implicit racism, while whites are largely its beneficiaries; and (ii) in terms of overt (rather than implicit) racism, legalized race-based preferences and the culture war that’s being waged by minorities and their elite lackeys in the media and academia, blacks are largely aggressors and whites, especially poor whites, are largely victims. Many people get confused because, for them, you either think there’s racism against blacks, or else you think there’s racism against whites, and you can’t hold both views simultaneously, much less make nuanced distinctions in terms of the types of racism being faced by these groups. I don’t have this kind of zero-sum attitude towards these things. I can clearly see both types of racism and empathize with both of these groups for different reasons.
So now we come to the issue of “white privilege.” As I’ve explained in my article about why talking about white privilege is racism, pure and simple, if what “white privilege” means is simply that white people generally still have it better than blacks in America in various ways, sure, generally, that’s true. But giving this idea an accusatory race-based label and going around crowing about “white privilege,” accusing people of displaying it or telling them to check it is no better than going around crowing about “black criminality” and telling blacks to “check their criminality” before they take part in discussions about law enforcement practices, etc. In fact, to make the parallel even more clear, you can, as I’ve described here, come up with a list of items constituting “black entitlement” that’s similar to the “white privilege” list and go about accusing blacks of it. And, as I clearly said in that article, this practice would be racist. For the same reasons, talking about “white privilege” is racist. It takes something that’s only generally true and makes it into a racist stereotype that’s being deployed unfairly to brand each and every white person, even those who are not remotely “privileged” in any conventional sense.
Even if you look at a lot of your language in your post, you’re making all sorts of general, sweeping statements about what white people (as a race) have done, should do or need to do, etc. I see these kinds of sweeping statements made about blacks and whites everywhere, and I’m sure I’ve made some myself. My point is that, instead of going whole-hog into the maelstrom of destructive identity politics where we emphasize precisely those things about ourselves that divide, polarize and anger us, we, as a culture, need to be sensitizing ourselves to all racial language and thinking of every sort and purge it from our collective consciousness. It needs to be not okay to talk about people on the basis of race. But my point in many posts has also been that as long as blacks still comprise an un-integrated underclass in America, this isn’t going to happen, because these kinds of racial binaries will still be too obvious to everyone to get them to stop thinking in those terms. This is why the biggest part of my solution to the issue of racial inequality is economic integration. There must be a broad, cross-racial coalition comprised of poor and working-class blacks and whites working against poverty and inequality (conceived of in non-racial terms), and when such a coalition is mobilized, it’ll disproportionately help blacks, which is exactly what we need, but because it won’t be conceived of in racial terms, whites won’t feel alienated in the process, and it’ll be a common project of creating a better, more integrated, more equal society that will result in the eventual purging of racial divisions and categorizations from our midst.
Right now, however, we’re going in the exact opposite direction. We’re making racial divisions and categorizations more obvious and palpable. Accusing whites of racism and “white privilege” isn’t winning anyone any friends. It’s digging people deeper into their positions, it’s polarizing them, it’s making them increasingly conscious of their “whiteness” and, as such, of the “blackness” of black people. As I’ve said many times in Medium posts, you can’t shame, scold and browbeat racism out of people. That approach just forces them to internalize it and seethe underneath and then, eventually, explode, and we’re rapidly careening towards that explosion.
So, you see, our disagreement is largely about how to achieve racial equality and integration. I believe that emphasizing racial differences and racial categories is completely counterproductive. It achieves the exact opposite result from the one we’re supposed to be workings towards. Black equality and integration can’t come at the expense of white people, or, at least, it can’t be framed that way, because if it is, most white people won’t accept it. It needs to be a common mission, and that means racial distinctions and categories need to be downplayed, not emphasized. That’s the only approach that’ll work.