White pride and white privilege

Omarosa, in her book, tells of asking Steve Bannon whether it’s true that he’s a racist. “No,” he answered. “The same way you are a proud African-American woman, I am a proud white man. What’s the difference between my pride and your pride?”

All the difference in the world.

Pride can have many sources, some appropriate, some not. I’m proud of many things about human culture that I associate myself with. Whiteness isn’t one of them. Talk of white pride (or black pride) makes the racial identification salient, which it can be only in relation to the other race, and relations between them.

The central fact of that relationship is the long past history of blacks, as a people, inferiorized and suffering at the hands of whites. Black pride is an aspect of rising above all that. Like Jewish pride at overcoming all that Jews have suffered. If you’re not Jewish, being proud of your non-Jewishness would equate to anti-semitism. Likewise, white pride can only be understood vis-a-vis non-whites, setting oneself against them rather than for something. It’s negative rather than positive; a rejection of racial amity. It has the odor of burning crosses.

And of Confederate monuments. They’re not about honoring a supposedly noble past history. They were erected to send a message: that blacks are lesser beings. Why else memorialize men who fought to preserve slavery?

White pride, in fact, has the odor of burning flesh. Of the thousands of innocent human beings lynched, often hideously mutilated, burned alive, to keep blacks terrorized “in their place.” I don’t think American white southerners have a noble past history to memorialize and take pride in. It’s a vile history requiring instead atonement.

So white pride cannot be whitewashed as merely some innocent positive feelings about one’s own race. It’s not remotely analogous to black pride.

Yes it is

If blacks take pride in overcoming, can whites take pride in creating the evils blacks overcame? Human beings, acting in their humanity, have achieved great things. White people, when acting in their whiteness, conceiving themselves apart from non-whites, have perpetrated horrors.

White priders take a leaf from the victim playbook, as if merely seeking fairness. This is an Orwellian mockery. For all the affirmative action practiced — at the edges of society, really — the far bigger reality is still that one is better off white. Those who march for white rights are not disadvantaged because they are white. They are disadvantaged because they are the sort of losers for whom “white pride” seems to make sense. That’s what puts them on the outs in today’s America.

No we’re not

At the opposite end from white priders are liberals suffering white privilege guilt. We’ve been hearing an awful lot about white privilege. I’m reminded of the Eddie Murphy SNL skit where he discovers white privilege by masquerading as white. Sitting on a bus, everything is quietly normal . . . until the lone black passenger exits. That frees the rest to break out the cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, turn on the music and start dancing in the aisle.

Of course that’s not how things are; “white privilege” is a misnomer. People aren’t favored because they are white (“You’re one of us, so you get special treatment”). That certainly doesn’t apply for the losers described above. Instead, it’s just that whites are not discriminated against on account of race.

No it won’t

Some non-whites may take offense at whiteness being seen as the normal, default condition of a human being, implying that non-whites are something apart, not quite full members of the club, or members on sufferance. But that reads too much into the situation. All it is is that if you pick an American person at random, she’s more likely to be white than black. More likely brunette than a redhead too. That doesn’t mean redheads aren’t part of the club. In fact there is no such club. True, there are some whites who do see there being a club. And for them there is one: a club of losers to which blacks shouldn’t want to belong. It sure isn’t the club of American society.

So white privilege is not a thing. It’s the absence of one. Whites do not get some undeserved benefit as the other side of the coin of non-whites undeservedly disadvantaged. What whites get is nothing more than what everyone should get.

Seriously??

White privilege does not invest Caucasians with the guilt of original sin. Instead we are individual human beings, each of us come fresh into the world, and who we are is defined by what we do.

 

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3 Responses to “White pride and white privilege”

  1. Nowhere Tribune Says:

    Very well said here, sir.

  2. Lee Says:

    I think I disagree in part. “White privilege” is a thing. While there are many aspects of it, one that is particularly relevant to your article shares many aspects with the “Old boy network,” which bestows privilege to those who are liked by people with privilege.

    Take my case. I work in science, a field that strives to promote people who have scientific merit. I have gone to schools with strong reputations, received advanced degrees, and have otherwise done very well in demonstrating my merit. It would be very easy for me to conclude that I have made it to where I am because a color-blind society chose me based upon my merit.

    However, as I look back at the two high school teachers who took a special interest in me, the three mentors who were quite helpful to me in college, my advisor in graduate school, my strongest mentors at my first job, etc. I see a pattern. They were like me. All but one of them were male. All but one of them were white. Many of them had the same religious background as I. As far as I know, all were heterosexual. Most of them had a similar economic background to mine. Most of them had the same educational background as I would eventually achieve. By far, most of them were just like me.

    I cannot help but conclude that I was chosen from among my peers, who also went to good school, etc., in part because there was a rapport, a comfortableness, an implicit understanding of common values, etc. My mentors and I got along well, shared the same humor, and had many, many other cultural similarities. In no small part, I got to where I am because people with privilege saw me as similar, liked me, and bestowed their privilege upon me. And now that I have privilege people raise their judgement of me because of the connections that I have.

    So, yes, my merit has taken me far. But someone as strong meritoriously who does not benefit from privilege in the way that I do must work ten times as hard to get where I am. Several times a day, a typical white person will choose something comfortable over something more foreign, and this is death by a thousand cuts to people of color. Whether you call it “white privilege,” “white supremacy,” “white supremacy culture,” “whitewashing”, or any of host of other names is a question of semantics. That, pretty much, each and every white person has to carefully dismantle these seemingly innocuous choices is something that absolutely has to happen.

  3. Yateesh Audho Says:

    White people are stupid to give in to Niggers. Remember that the blacks were captured by other blacks and sold as slaves.

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