White Privilege; My Problem with Blanket Generalizations

If the title wasn’t clear, I mean that white privilege shouldn’t exist as a concept because it does more harm than good in the grand scheme of things — something that I intend to illustrate both through personal experience and example in this post.

As far as I am aware, white privilege tends to mean something along the lines of this: The freedom from negative stereotypes that greatly inconvenience the lives of minorities. If that is indeed the working definition, then we already have a few problems.

To start, not all whites are exempt from negative stereotypes. I know this from personal experience, being a first generation American born of white European immigrants. My parents often have me answer the phone for them because they lack English fluency and don’t want to be perceived as unintelligent for it. I have an unusual last name that reads similarly to ‘Reject’ on first glance, and I was constantly mocked for it during my early childhood. The values I was raised in (humility, putting aside my needs for those of the group, reservedness, etc) are often detrimental to possess in American culture.

And that’s putting aside the ‘rewards’ my family should possess because of our white privilege. My parents were neither wealthy nor well-connected. I had to take out student loans to attend university and still struggle to find work to this day.

I don’t think it’s an accident that the people pushing this ‘white privilege’ concept the most tend to be affluent minority students as well. Jonathan Butler of Mizzou protest infamy, for example, comes from a household whose net worth is in the millions. He has the peace of mind to be able to protest instead of studying profusely or working to offset future loan payments. A peace of mind not entirely incomparable with the ‘white privilege’ his kind of activist pushes. I don’t deny that he likely wants to be in solidarity with his peer group, but he surely doesn’t face the same level of challenges as an impoverished African American would.

That brings me to the point I want to bring home — It almost seems like these sorts of racialized protests obfuscate what typically buys privilege in modern Western Society: Wealth! Money gets you the private schooling, the tutors, the extracurricular activities, the unpaid internships, and all the rest that typically add up to success in our society. None of the aforementioned are restricted to some arbitrary skin color, just to the size of your pocketbook.

Even if the average white experience is easier than the average African American experience, are we going to deny the struggles of that white person on the lesser fringe just because of his skin color? The ‘white privilege’ generalization does just that.

Overall, I don’t think we should be blind to the nuances of race on an individual’s experience, . Ultimately, there’s someone of every shade with a struggle.

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