Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Here's An Interesting Take On So-called "White Privilege"

John Stossel continues to impress me sometimes.
But black writer Shelby Steele argues that whites do blacks no favors wringing their hands about white privilege.

"I grew up in segregation," Steele told me. "So I really know what racism is. I went to segregated school. I bow to no one in my knowledge of racism, which is one of the reasons why I say white privilege is not a problem."

Steele claims, "the real problem is black irresponsibility. ... Racism is about 18th on a list of problems that black America faces."

Whites' preoccupation with guilt and compensation such as affirmative action is actually a subtle form of racism, writes Steele in his book "White Guilt". "One of the things that is clear about white privilege, and so many of the arguments for diversity that pretend to be compensatory, is that they advantage whites. They make the argument that whites can solve [black people's] problems. ... The problem with that is ... you reinforce white supremacy. ... And black dependency.

I agree. If you believe in "white privilege" then you must believe that whites control the destiny of blacks. I don't accept that.

Of course, there is still racism in America. At ABC News we've aired hidden-camera video showing sales clerks spying on black customers, cab drivers passing blacks to pick up whites and employers favoring white-sounding names.

Steele says those are minor problems.

"The fact is," he adds, "we got a raw deal in America. We got a much better deal now. But we can't access it unless we take ... responsibility for getting there ourselves."

Hard to disagree with that logic, but I'm sure some will. sigh


Ellen K said...

There's no question that racism and all other kinds of ism's exist. That's part of the human condition-not a nice part, but a part nonetheless. What is a problem is that many issues that are not of themselves racially based, are painted with the taint of racism in order to achieve political gravitas. A prime example of that is the simplistic notion that if Sen. Obama fails to be elected president, that it will be because everyone who doesn't vote for him is racist. That's a pretty broad based assumption and doesn't take into account those voters who vote for Obama precisely BECAUSE of his ethnicity. That too is racism. Personally, I think the man is well educated, charming and glib. But I also think he's a socialist and I don't support socialism. In some people's eyes that makes me racist. And if you can apply the term of racism to a person's individual freedom to choose, then it's not a far cry to apply it to everything.

runawayfred said...

If you believe in "white privilege" then you must believe that whites control the destiny of blacks.

That's just silly. Just because whites have a wide array of systemic and quotidian advantages over blacks and Latinos and others doesn't mean that whites control their destiny. It's just a set of variable advantages that makes life a bit easier for whites. In tons of ways. As a white person, I have no problem acknowledging that. And even trying to counteract it.