Your Nation on White Privilege, by Tim Wise

It’s not often that I re-post articles, but I think this one is worth consideration. Time wise is an author, scholar, and preeminent anti-racism activist in the United States. You may not agree entirely with all he says, but consider the truth behind the disparities he points out.



This is Your Nation on White Privilege
By Tim Wise

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are
constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this
list will help.

.      White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like
Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of
your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you
or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and
Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as
irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

.      White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin” redneck,”
like Bristol Palin”s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes
with you, you’ll “kick their fuckin’ ass,” and talk about how you like to
“shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy
(and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

.      White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six
years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then
returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no
one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a
person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and
probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative

.      White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town
smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with
about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of
Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all
piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term
state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested.”

.      White privilege is being able to say that you support the words
“under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for
the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately
disqualified from holding office–since, after all, the pledge was written
in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn”t added until the
1950s–while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their
rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a
prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only
supported by mushy liberals.

.      White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make
people immediately scared of you. White privilege is being able to have a
husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your
state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was “Alaska first,” and no
one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you’re black
and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home
with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she”s
being disrespectful.

.      White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and
the work they do–like, among other things, fight for the right of women to
vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child
labor–and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely
question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no
foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college–you’re somehow
being mean, or even sexist.

.      White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even
agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running
mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has
inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party
a “second look.”

.      White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your
political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a
typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely
knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you
must be corrupt.

.      White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose
pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George
W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian
nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological
principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict
in the Middle East is God”s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and
everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if
you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin
Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often
the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism
and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates

.      White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked
by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such
a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word
answers to the queries of Bill O”Reilly means you’re dodging the question,
or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

.      White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has
anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and
experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a “light” burden.

.      And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly
allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90
percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing
their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from
world opinion, just because white voters aren”t sure about that whole
“change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say,
four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem

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