Yeah, no doubt that everyone experiences privilege in some way as well as prejudices. However, I think that people like you fail to realize that the repercussions of slavery and centuries of anti-blackness still affect black people today.
I agree with your MLK quote about worrying about character, but the truth of the matter is that when a black person walks into a room, no one is concerned about their character at first. All they see is black skin and then the negative preconceived notions set in, we usually have to prove that we aren’t our stereotypes.
That is your self-perception. That is insecurity about your own skin.
If you walk into a room thinking people are judging you based on your skin color, then no matter what they are actually thinking you walk out assuming you were correct. They could spend the entire conversation idly chitchatting about furniture while thinking about their mother’s illness or last night’s football game. You will still walk out thinking that they were conjuring all sorts of negative stereotypes about you because of your complexion and that they were judging you inferior. There is no way to prove otherwise.
Nobody can change that but you.
Drilling into the minds of black youth that your perception is accurate, only perpetuates the falsely based insecurity about your skin color into your brothers and sisters.
I am not saying that “nobody is racist”. Of course there are countless racists.
I will reveal something about myself now. Here is honest reflection about my brain. I believe that the overwhelming majority of people are like me about this.
We all hold preconceived notions about race based on stereotypes. However, when it comes to judging an individual that we are meeting, we reserve applying that negative stereotype until we see them exhibit a trait of that stereotype.
So, for example:
If I meet a Jew, I will not assume that any of the stereotypes about Jews apply to him. If we go out for lunch and he leaves the waiter a tip under 15 percent I will think “Cheap Kike”. If he were anything but Jewish, I would think “Cheap, asshole”.
It works like that with all races: Let us assume that at that same meal there were two other people I was meeting, and one was Irish and the other was black. I would not assume that either of them carried the negative stereotypes of those races.
But, if the Irish guy ordered 4 drinks I would think “alcoholic, Mick”, while if the black or Jew ordered those drinks I would think “alcoholic”.
If the black guy admitted that he spends each afternoon in his office snorting coke, I would think “Lazy N_______”. While if the Irish or Jew made the same statement I would think “Lazy, loser.”
That is just the way my mind works. I am not judging you when you walk in the door. But I will judge your conduct, perhaps more harshly, if you exhibit the negative stereotypes of your race.
I suspect most people act similarly.
I do not think I am capable of changing that mindset. Fortunately, that is a form of prejudice which does not harm anybody. People are being judged by their conduct, not their ancestory.
Your point about Oprah is hard for me to accept because I am not Oprah. I am a regular black woman and due to systematic racism (not sure if you believe this is real), there are a lot of black people who are living in poverty (not to say that there aren’t black people who are poor by their own doings.) Oprah and other black celebs are the exception.
Of course, Oprah is no help to you. I used her as a principle example and then dialed back to a more relatable example of an affluent black man.
You keep saying “race race race”, yet, you recognize throughout your piece that everything about our looks beyond skin color plays a far more predominant factor in how we are treated.
By your admission, your face, clothing, and apparent status of being a success will play a far more important role in receiving privilege than race.
If you are a true social justice warrior (as your bio claims), why would you care more about the less important factor of race? Should not the efforts of a warrior for social justice start with the greater injustice of “pretty privilege”?
You said some of my points weren’t very important but how about the fact that job applications with black names are likely to be overlooked, imagine not having your job application even looked at because of your name …
This probably happens. It is certainly wrong. If you can suggest a reasonable means of addressing this problem I will march with you in support.
or that black people get longer and harsher sentences for the same crimes.
I do not know if this is true. I agree that if true, this should be remedied and it seems far easier to remedy than the job applicant issue. I would appreciate your source for this information.
Again, these are just a couple of examples. Also, I want to address your advice on saying I should reply “You’re pretty for a white person.” This. cannot. work. White people are societies standard of beauty. From a young age black women, especially, are told that they are ugly. They are too dark, their nappy hair is ugly, their flat noses are ugly, their big lips are ugly — now it’s a trend though because Kylie Jenner got some lip injections (I’m rolling my eyes at that btw.) So many black women bleach their skin, get nose jobs and destroy their beautiful hair because they want to look white. Saying “You’re pretty for a white person.” does not work because white people are supposed to be the most attractive race.
I was being partially serious with my snappy retort. I thought it would be a clever response. The point is, that looks are so subjective that Person A thinking that one race is more beautiful than another is empty.
But I understand what you are saying. Your point is that American culture feeds the notion that typical “white features” are prettier. From the button nose to the blonde hair. I get it.
I do not know how attitudes of beauty can be addressed by any movement.
Perhaps a movement that emphasizes how focusing on looks is a vapid perspective would help. It would also serve as a precursor for dismantling the “pretty privilege”.
I grew up in Africa, where almost everyone is black and I STILL got made fun of for being too dark… which I’m really fucking not. White beauty standards have literally made their way to a continent that is predominantly black. There are lots of American shows in Nigeria (where I grew up) and a lot of what I see on my T.V. are white faces and when we are constantly exposed to that, we start to believe that is what we are supposed to look like. I’m sick of things being associated with evil when it’s black.
I truly understand your frustration.
I will prove that I understand it.
Popular culture crams a lot of false ideology into society’s perception and twisted American pop culture spreads worldwide.
You deal with it in the fact that pop culture dictates “white=pretty”. Conservatives deal with it, in pop culture spreading the myth that people are born gay. Muslims deal with it, in pop culture spreading the notion that sex, dressing like a hooker and more sex are the key to happiness.
Pop culture is way too influential in a myriad of ways. The only answer to that, is to hit the media in its pocketbook. But that is very difficult.
Also, I was not complaining that I can’t joke about cancer omg, I don’t want to do that. I was just pointing out how people would joke about a disease in Africa but not one that white people can be harmed by. The jokes would not be as common if they affected white people. I’m using cancer because everyone knows cancer, we may even have people we have lost to it but NEVER in my life have I ever heard anyone joke about it. However, when I found out that Ebola made it’s way into Africa, I was in London at the time and I honestly can’t tell you how many jokes I heard.
I dont think it is necessarily racial. People mocked Asians walking the streets in surgical masks when they had a flu epidemic.
People just suck.
I disagree that a black teen would be scrutinized by a black security guard. Honestly, because black people go through so much crap in America, there’s a bond we have. I know for a fact that if that just a regular teenager walking into a store, causing no harm, a black security guard is not about to bother him. They’d probably fist bump. I think there is sometimes an unspoken connection between black people and it is because we all have one thing in common and that’s the possibility of being exposed to racism everyday, and knowing that we have to fight against racism and dangerous stereotypes constantly. Why do you think we call each other brotha/sista?
I am really unsure if this is true. You may or may not be right. It would be an interesting study.
I have had a difficult time researching a related issue. Maybe you can help me.
To me, the whole BLM movement originated off of a perception that white cops are killing black teens.
What if that perception were irrefutably proven false? This is how we can learn if cops are killing blacks because of racism.
Every time a cop kills a black, there is an uproar. Yet, the headlines often focus on “Cop kills black” and will ignore the race of the cop.
Would it not be interesting to analyze whether black cops are killing blacks as frequently as white cops are killing them? If 20 percent of all cops are black, and roughly 20 percent (or more) of all blacks killed by cops are shot by black cops, would that not show that the shootings are not generally racially motivated, but that black youths are putting themselves at an unusually high rate of situations that they are likely to be shot?
On the other hand, if 20 percent of all cops are black and only 10 percent of all blacks killed by cops, die from the gun of a black cop, would that not show that white cops are probably more trigger happy around black offenders than they should be?
If somebody could find these numbers about percent of black cops and percent of shootings by black cops I would be grateful. I have looked, but I have had no success.
As for the black teen who can get free drinks and favors over a 50 year old white man, I agree. That takes me back to my point about different privileges, pretty privilege exists too. White privilege however is the most important privilege there is and realizing it may prove to be helpful and useful in changing America.
Why is it more important when it is less impactful?
If you could convince all Americans that “white privilege” exists and is more meaningful than “privilege X”, how would that recognition help America? How would recognition change anything? We recognize pretty privilege yet that does not change its impact. Why would recognizing white privilege change anything?
I understand your point about being Jewish, yes I have heard Jewish stereotypes but no one knows you are Jewish by looking at you. You are still a white male and that is what people perceive.
So my ability to hide who I am means that if I put on a kippah I am asking to be discriminated and therefore deserve it?
If white privilege didn’t exist, why are there things like affirmative action that give minorities, disabled people AND women a boost? Affirmative action is one of the first solutions. If white people started to acknowledge their privilege, maybe the things that affect black people and other POC due to their race can slowly be diminished.
I do not really understand this. In the previous post you issued resentment that people think you got a job you did not deserve. But now you are advocating for that to be a more commonplace occurence.
Ivy league schools provide a 500 point advantage on the SAT’s to POC over Asians. How is that not racist?
Think about white privilege, and how it impacts your life. Think about how easily and freely you move through the world, safe from the same racist suspicions that people of color face, often daily … When someone asks you to “check your privilege,” that’s all they’re saying — think about how your whiteness impacts your perspective, and consider whether you might be missing something. Listen. Learn.”
I address this below.
I know I do not need your approval to be successful, that’s not my argument. My argument is that there are people who may obstruct me from my success simply because I am black. I will definitely overcome though.
The point about obstruction is very possibly true. I agree thatbyou will very likely overcome it. Intelligence and drive are great indicators of future success. Plus you have “pretty privilege”. ☺
I get that we all face prejudices but the ones black people face are pretty damn bad.
Ezinne Ukoha says that “White people are seen as humans with flaws while black people are seen as imperfect and brutish in a way that is unfairly limiting.”
Ezinne Ukoha sees everything in skin color. Sometimes she is correct. Often she is not.
I don’t want to write too much and lose you and I understand that I may not be able to convince you about this topic but that’s okay. I can see how it may be hard for you to accept something that you have never experienced.
You are too immature to understand the realities of life. You cannot understand what I am saying, because you are just too immature. I know far better than you. So your best course is probably to shut up and quit while you’re behind.
Do you see what I did there?
I issued a fastuous, asshole, statement about your maturity to dismiss you and your opinions as being utterly meaningless in comparison to my supposedly superior qualifications of understanding based on experience. So I will clarify (in bold so nobody misses it):
I do not believe you are immature. I wrote that paragraph for one reason. So you could read and feel what “check your privilege” is really saying.
When somebody tells me to “check my privilege” they are saying “you have not lived my life, so you cannot understand and your opinion has no meaning so stfu.”
It is fastuous and it is fiction. Just like choosing to dismiss a mature intelligent person on a supposed lack of maturity, is said with the intention of dismissing people without hearing their thoughts.
Have you ever been hanged? No. But you still can understand that it is a terrible position. Similarly, I do not need to be black to understand that there are certain ways that being black might suck on a day to day basis.
You being prejudiced on the basis of your skin color, however, does not mean that I am privileged on the basis of my skin color.
There is no “privilege” in not being as disadvantaged as others.
Your claim that black prejudice equals “white privilege” is the same thing as saying: i) a person born healthy is “privileged” because people are born with cystic fibrosis; ii) a person born with one leg is “privileged” because some people are born with zero legs; and iii) a homeless person on the street is “privileged” because some people are homeless and sick.
So no, I do not think there is significant white privilege. Certainly not a white privilege that seems rectifiable. But there is black disadvantage. In a way, that may be a deeper recognition than you seek, because “black disadvantage” implies a disadvantage next to all races, not just whites.
Furthermore, privilege implies war. It implies “we must take people down” to our level. Disadvatages can be overcome. As you, no doubt, will overcome those disadvantages, so can any black person.