What Is ‘White Privilege’?

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

The president of the University of Missouri, Tim Wolfe, had to go. He had to go because he benefitted from “white privilege.” That, at least, was the victorious argument of the intellectual heavyweights of Concerned Student 1950, who insisted that Wolfe acknowledge his “white privilege” before leaving office in a handwritten – not typed, dammit! — letter.

This raises some rather obvious questions, like: What is “white privilege”? Why is it that Tim Wolfe’s “white privilege” mattered while that of Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel (salary: $3.1 million for helping men in pads hit each other) and Assistant Professor Melissa Click (gets paid to study Lady Gaga and 50 Shades of Grey) does not? Why is it that “white privilege” only manifests when the left wants it to manifest? Why do low-IQ dolts make up terms that only apply in Cloud Cuckoo Land, but that we all have to pretend to care about? Was Western civilization truly built brick by brick so that those same low-IQ dolts could mewl about their feelings?

You know, the simple questions.

But let’s just start with that first question. What is “white privilege”?

We might as well use the definition recommended by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the left’s favorite radical think tank dedicated to mislabeling all conservatives racist, sexist, bigoted and homophobic. These are the intellectual heavyweights of a movement that brags about its associations with Katy Perry and the Kardashians. On their website, tolerance.org, they recommend teaching children the definition of “white privilege” from Jennifer Holladay’s massively popular bestseller White Anti-Racist Activism: A Personal Roadmap. Here’s that definition:

White skin privilege is not something that white people necessarily do, create or enjoy on purpose. Unlike the more overt individual and institutional manifestations of racism described above, white skin privilege is a transparent preference for whiteness that saturates our society. White skin privilege serves several functions. First, it provides white people with “perks” that we do not earn and that people of color do not enjoy. Second, it creates real advantages for us. White people are immune to a lot of challenges. Finally, white privilege shapes the world in which we live — the way that we navigate and interact with one another and with the world.

Ah, well then. That solves that.

“White privilege” is something that attaches to you, rather like thetans in Scientology. “White privilege” gives you societal superpowers. You get perks such as – and no, I am not making this up – “the flesh-colored band-aid generally matches my skin tone,” and, “complimentary [hotel] shampoo generally works with the texture of my hair.” Some might say that more white people live in America than black people, and that therefore, companies cater to their market. But no – that is just your “white privilege talking.”

You also get advantages from “white privilege.” These advantages include skin color not working “against me in terms of how people perceive my financial responsibility, style of dress, public speaking skills or job performance.” So, for example, “white privilege” means I, as a white man (well, a Jewish man, but close enough), will receive government-subsidized mortgage loans without proper credit in order to rectify past racial imbalances; or that critique of my shabby dress will be dismissed as covert racism; or that my speaking skills will be touted even if I bloviate and stumble off teleprompter; or that I’ll be protected, as a white man, from firing in special ways thanks to my race. Oh, wait, perhaps those examples are poorly chosen.

Other advantages of “white privilege” include people “not assum[ing] that I got where I am professionally because of my race (or because of affirmative action programs),” mainly because there are no affirmative action programs for white people, while people of color now routinely get admitted to top universities across the country with inferior statistical qualifications. So, given the choice between getting into Yale with a lower score and being able to bitch about a black guy getting into Yale with a lower score, clearly more Americans would choose the latter. That’s “white privilege.”

Another advantage: “Store security personnel or law enforcement officers do not harass me, pull me over or follow me because of my race.” That may be true, although there are no statistical studies proving it and my own personal checkbook is filled with speeding tickets. But that could also have to do with heavier police presence in low-income, high-crime neighborhoods, which are disproportionately non-white. Oops, there’s that damn “white privilege” presenting facts again.

But never mind the advantages – “white privilege” also is a worldview. That worldview says that white people “made [America] what it is” and that national monuments feature lots of white people. You might think that’s because white Christian males founded the country, or because the majority of the American population has been white and Christian since its founding, or because white Christian males were central to the vast majority of major changes to American society, or because America’s movement toward racial and gender equality has accelerated since those monuments were built. But that’s just your “white privilege” talking.

Like Scientology’s thetans, you can pay a price to remove the “white privilege” soul-leeches. That price: self-abnegation at the feet of anyone who claims you have “white privilege.” How will you know if you do have such “white privilege”? You’ll be told you do by your victimhood-hierarchy superiors. That’s your privilege. If you’re truly a beneficiary of “white privilege,” you’ll know it by all the people telling you to accept that you are an arrogant person undeserving of your success, a secret racist, and subject to demands of every sort from those who are not beneficiaries of “white privilege.” Your benefits may even include being fired for the color of your skin, like Tim Wolfe.

How exciting.

Well, now you know what “white privilege” is. The question is: what will you do to repent?

Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News, Editor-in-Chief of DailyWire.com, and The New York Times bestselling author, most recently, of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.


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