As I read Facebook this breezy Saturday morning, I kept running into posts from my conservative friends that so, so, so made me want to respond. But were I to respond on their forums, I know what would happen: arguments, with no changing of minds. So instead, they become essay prompts on my forum:
📖🖋️📖 Prompt #1: Privilege 📖🖋️📖
One friend of mine shared the following, ostensibly from “American News”:
“PRIVILEGE is what Stupid People call the CONSEQUENCE of other people WORKING HARDER and MAKING BETTER CHOICES than them” — Kurt Schlichter.
If you’re not familiar with Schlichter, he is a conservative columnist recruited by Breitbart, which says quite a bit.
So where do I start with this statement? First, I’ll note the “Stupid” part. There are so many of these memes that bully and call people names, and the folks posting them think it is funny. It’s a mindset that is just wrong in this day and age, but bullying is often perceived to be the answer if you can’t make a real argument and convince people with facts. In fact, following this post, this person posted another meme that said, “If you need an answer, just find yourself a drink, sit back, and post the wrong answer on Facebook. Some asshole will correct you.”. Well, I’m just that asshole — and remember that without your asshole, you’d be even fuller of ….
But I digress. Let’s get to this assertion that privilege is really just people working harder and making better choices? Is that true?
I did a quick search to find some examples of White Privilege and Male Privilege (as those are the usual privileges of concern). Let’s see if this statement is true.
The following is from “Everyday Feminism”: 10 Examples of White Privilege:
- I Have the Privilege of (Generally) Having a Positive Relationship with the Police. So, white people being treated differently than black people by law enforcement. Walking through an affluent neighborhood: the scruffy black guy gets harassed more than the white guy. The whole “driving while black”. The whole issue of who goes to jail more, and who gets guns drawn at them more, and who get longer sentences. Is this just that the white folks worked harder and made better choices? Nah. Not when there are instances of well educated black people being hassled, and poor white folks being ignored. Working harder and making choices doesn’t help.
- I Have the Privilege of Being Favored by School Authorities. Here minority students are more likely to get suspended for offenses that for white students get a warning. Islamic students bringing in science projects that are viewed as terrorism; the same project from white folks getting a pass. Is that “working harder and making better choices”. Things being equal? Nope.
- I Have the Privilege of Attending Segregated Schools of Affluence. This is a lot of economic privilege, which could be viewed as parents making better choices — or growing up in an environment where white folks get better jobs and higher paying jobs. But certainly white segregated schools have greater resources than black segregated school. That’s not the product of the students working harder or making better choices.
- I Have the Privilege of Learning about My Race in School. History courses in America typically teach the White Christian view of history. Except for perhaps one week, the contributions of minorities are not discussed. How is what we teach an example of working harder and making better choices?
- I Have the Privilege of Finding Children’s Books that Overwhelmingly Represent My Race. Take a look at school books and much of popular literature. What is the color of the people in the stories? Look at our media, and the complexion of broadcast TV? How is this an example of working harder and making better choices?
- I Have the Privilege of Soaking in Media Blatantly Biased Toward My Race. I addressed this in the last item, but our media is predominately white. There is nothing about working harder and making better choices here. Even if you were to somehow argue that for news anchors, it doesn’t explain why scripted drama doesn’t reflect the complexion of the country. Further, think about this: look at the crime drama you see. What is the typical complexion of the criminal, and what is the complexion of law enforcement? Working harder and making better choices?
- I Have the Privilege of Escaping Violent Stereotypes Associated with My Race. Simple question: What makes you more nervous? A black guy with a visible gun or a white guy with a visible gun? How is your reaction “working harder and making better choices”? Same thing for the middle eastern guy buying the fertilizer and nails at the hardware store, vs. the white guy buying the same.
- I Have the Privilege of Playing the Colorblind Card, Wiping the Slate Clean of Centuries of Racism. This is attempting to ignore racism by not seeing color. In fact, the statement we’re examining is an attempt to be colorblind — to argue the issue isn’t racism, but something else. How is the ability to attempt to do that “working harder and making better choices”?
- I Have the Privilege of Being Insulated from the Daily Toll of Racism. Every day, minorities suffer little indignities: the nervous look, the lower pay, and so forth. How is that “working harder and making better choices”?
- I Have the Privilege of Living Ignorant of the Dire State of Racism Today. As a white person, you can easily go through your life not worrying about being hassled by law enforcement, confident that you can get in a door for an interview, that you’ll have the ability to get a loan and go to a college of your choice. All this because you’re the majority skin color, not because you work harder or make better choices.
When we look at male privilege, we can easily see differences. How does “working harder and make better choices” influence the fact that it costs more to dry-clean a woman’s shirt than a man’s shirt. That a woman doing the same job with the same education gets paid less. That opinions from a woman of equal training and knowledge to a man get discounted?
Privilege is not the result of working harder and making better choices. Privilege is having an easier life for no reason other than your pigment or gender.
📖🖋️📖 Prompt #2: Racism 📖🖋️📖
In the last day or two, I saw two statements that invoked the same reaction. Both were in response to pictures of the congresswoman who had been with the war widow when the President called. One shared a quote from @RealJamesWoods that said: “When #Democrats start wheeling out clowns dressed as saloon hookers, they are trying desperately to swerve away from the news.” The other said “How anyone takes seriously a person wearing a plastic cowboy hat is beyond me…”
As Steve Martin once said, “Excuuuuse me.”
Since when did we start judging the value of a person based on what they look like or what they are wearing?
Isn’t that just racism dressed up? Isn’t that just sexism? I judge Donald Trump not because of his ill fitting suits, how he looks on the golf course, his odd hair, or his ill-fitting tie. I judge him based on what he says or does.
Disagree with this congresswomen based on what she said, fine (even though her story has been verified). But don’t go down the path of discounting her because she wears a silly hat. Hell, you’d need to write off most of Texas if you were going to do that.