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If you need assistance from the government, you’re free to apply for it. There is temporary cash assistance (although this is very hard to get nowadays, and one mistake on the application can land you in jail for a long time). Food assistance. Help in housing. Medicaid. If you need it, it’s there for you same as to others, so I am not entirely sure I understand your question as to “where” it is. Generally speaking, it’s better to accept help and use it as a springboard for improvement than to remain in poverty as a matter of pride. People who end up homeless because they refuse help are a far larger drain on society than those who apply through HUD for subsidies. People who have access to food think more clearly than those who allow themselves to starve. People who have access to internet connections are better able to apply for jobs, although do keep in mind that in the past 40 years, the phenomenon of the “working poor” has cropped up: people who remain in poverty despite working 40 hours a week. This characterizes pretty much anyone working for minimum wage or up to 50% above minimum wage.

When I speak of privilege in the aggregate, that obviously does not mean that no poor white people exist. If you think that that is what I am arguing, then you’re beating up a strawman. It should be rather obvious that having privilege in society compared to other races that were enslaved for hundreds of years and couldn’t even attend the same schools only half a century ago does not mean that you’ll automatically be rich. I’m not sure how to explain that to you more clearly. (As an analogy, when the meteorologist tells you that it’s the hottest year on record, you can’t point to a single day that was cold and say, “Nuh uh!”)

The concept of white privilege is not about you as an individual; it is not some kind of personal attack. Let me explain to you the sort of daily, unspoken, unseen privilege that exists for white people on the whole (this is just one example, but I can give you a raft more if you insist): as an experiment, a group of mental health professionals were given a group of psychological profiles. For each profile, there was a copy that was assigned a “black name” (Tyrese, LaKeisha) and a “white name” (Gary, Bonnie). These professionals were asked to give an overall assessment of the mental health characteristics of each profile. For the exact same profile, those that were assigned a black name were consistently overviewed as being more hostile, more dangerous, more negative, more likely to fail etc. In other words, a personality profile that lists characteristics X, Y, Z and is labeled as “Bonnie’s” profile is far less likely to be deemed hostile, psychopathic, etc. than a profile that lists characteristics X, Y, Z (very same characteristics) labeled as “LaKeisha’s” profile.

Whether you’d like to admit it or not, these are the kinds of subtle yet very, very important and impactful differences in others’ judgments that you don’t have to worry about as a white person but that a black person deals with every day, and in every interaction. Be honest with yourself: would you gladly trade places with a black person, all other things being equal? You’re not likely to say “yes” (if you’re being candid with yourself). That’s not to say that there actually is something wrong with being a black person, but that it’s just so much damn harder to achieve the same quality of life because of the immediate judgment foisted upon a black person by sheer virtue of his or her race.

If you’re actually interested in exploring the issue further, I am happy to provide you with some links.

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