As a student at a public institution of higher education, many hot political and cultural issues unfold on my campus on a regular basis. On an average day, I’m likely to see both a Christian missionary and a Marxist organization pass out literature to further their respective ideological agendas. My generation of men and women, the oldest of whom are entering into college age, are exposed to hot socio-political topics at a young age perhaps more than any generation us. Because of the phenomenon of digital interconnectedness (aka, the internet), opinions and information can be shared to millions within moments. When the muddying of waters between entertainment and politics is taken into consideration, effectively, whoever controls the children, controls the future of the political world.
More often than not, topics pertaining to gender issues, race relations, and cultural appropriation are assumed by many of our predecessors, with Millennials and Baby Boomers being notably more liberal than the demographics before them. Because of this, the concept white privilege, among other tenants of progressivist ideology, floods mainstream politics and culture. White guilt enacted by demanding reparations for past grievances experienced by one’s ancestors and by the increasing concern revolving the abstraction of “racial whiteness,” has been assumed by many Millennials and college professors.
In an article titled, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” the prolific feminist scholar Peggy McIntosh provides a five page manifesto covering the necessity of men adopting the accuracy of intersectional progressivism’s unequivocal condemnation of both white privilege and male over-empowerment. Some of the points that McIntosh offers as examples of a first-person experience of white privilege include the following quotations. The quotations from the source concerning white privilege are in bold and indented, followed by my response to the accusation.
“I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.”
Who cannot do this – and what is wrong with it? A defining element of progressive identitarian politics and leftist collectivism, which seeks to classify all individuals who possess similar characteristics under a common agenda, is the promotion of races being given environments to thrive and prosper without being forced to assimilate to Western standards. It is not difficult to notice that the majority of the global population choose to associate and identify with persons who resemble themselves in appearance and mannerisms. This is not in any case a universal law, and there are undoubtedly exceptions; however, humanity’s deeply tribalistic nature is what leads to the natural self-segregation of co-existing races, religions, and cultures. It is, in a way, a survival instinct to keep the flame of one’s identity burning.
Additionally, if this is to be considered a tenant of white privilege, why is it that non-white demographics also associate primarily, and often exclusively, also maintain friend groups and social structures composed of people of their respective race? It appears to be a universal aspect of racial identity to self-segregate, or at least to care for one’s own identity more so than the identity of others.
“I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.”
What I can only imagine the author is referring to is the existence of “white suburbia,” where PMSing housewives and effeminate men dwell indigenously.
I have never lived in what the author assumes to be a stereotypical upper middle-class white American neighborhood and in no time during my life have I been “pretty sure that my neighbors will be natural or pleasant to me.” Certainly, I would love to assume the best about people; yet, common sense dictates that one should never assume that people are generally good. Call me cynical, but I never assumed that my neighborhood would be kind to me on any basis, regardless of their appearance or identity.
“I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.”
I live on my own. I pay my bills. I buy my groceries. I’ve gone into the grocery store on many occasions, and my presentation has varied greatly during my shopping trips. On some days, typically when I dress nicely for a meeting of some sort, I will appear as an outstanding citizen, not carrying the profile of a shoplifter. On other days, when I don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning and head to class in my pajamas, I will appear “rough,” to put it shortly. When I present myself as someone who fits the profile for a shoplifter, whether intentionally or unintentionally, I have seen security guards follow me around the store. Everyone can look sketchy, regardless of their race; everyone can look nice, regardless of their race.
“When I am told about our national heritage or about ‘civilization,’ I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.”
My first response to this accusation is that people of my color are what made by national heritage “what it is.” The initial pilgrims who settled in North America were similar to me in appearance. The Founding Fathers of the United States were unanimously white men descended from Western Europe. To suppose that basic history, including depicting the appearance of a nation’s prominent socio-political revolutionaries accurately, is somehow exclusively a phenomenon associated with “white privilege” is absurd. If one were to take a course in national history or heritage in a South African country, then they would undoubtedly be confronted with many persons of color. There is nothing wrong with this.
“I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.”
I am not sure if any child in the United States has been given curricular materials that testify to the non-existence of their race. To suppose that the existence of a racial majority in any given community is somehow tantamount to racial oppression or hatred is preposterous, as an identitarian majority will always exist in hierarchal societies. Seeing that hierarchies are a naturally occurring social phenomenon throughout the animal kingdom means that such a structural reality is not naturally oppressive. Those who believe that existing as a minority is automatically, or by default, to exist as an oppressed person are either woefully mistaken or ignorant.
“I can swear, or dress in second-hand clothes, or not answer letters without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race.”
I grew up living under the legal national poverty line. It was a rare occasion for me to have the privilege of buying new clothes, and as soon as I could begin working to make my own money, I worked as long and hard as I could. I have had many individuals attribute my impoverishment with bad morals or the illiteracy of me as an individual. Offensive assumptions, however, only possess the power you give them. If somebody is simply wrong (this includes instances of individualized racism, whereby one person operates on a set of presumptions that leads to discrimination), then it isn’t the end of the world. Other people do not control you, and you are not simply the sum of others’ opinions. Rather than spending countless hours protesting someone’s faulty opinion, it would be wiser to invest such time into a productive outlet. If they are wrong, then prove it.
The only reason why anyone in the United States would grow up in poverty is because of poor parental decisions. It is true that poverty is structurally more than simply a lack of income; however, in the United States, statistics exist that show popular denominators among the impoverished demographic. In 2001, national data was gathered by the National Center for Policy Analysis that revealed trends among impoverish American citizens.
- Only 1.2% of adults receiving some education beyond high school are poor long-term.
- Only 9.6% of high school graduates are poor, compared to 22.2% of those without a diploma.
- This drops to 3.3% of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Married couples without children have a long-term poverty rate of only 1.3%.
- Only 2.6% of people 16 years or older with full time jobs are poor.
- On average, a child raised by a never-married mother is 9 times more likely to live in poverty than a child raised by two parents in an intact marriage.
- Nearly 80% of children in long-term poverty live in some type of broken family or with a never-married parent.
What one may notice about the above data is that no a single one of these issues is related to one’s skin color. As an individual, everyone can work full-time, pursue at least a high school diploma (and often, a certificate/license or undergraduate degree), and not have children out of wedlock. If an unprecedented amount of a particular demographic is experiencing poverty at an unfathomable rate, then there is something within that demographics’ identity that is causing said poverty. It would seem, however, that most are satisfied with simply blaming an unseen, abstract entity (e.g. “the white man is keeping me down), for their current predicament rather than exercising their individual free will to earn a better lot in life.
In closing, I think that what those who propose the existence of “white privilege” fail to understand that privilege is actually a good thing. Every parent should want their child to be privilege, and everyone should favor their own kindred over a stranger. There is no shame in having your parents make wise practical decisions or in coming from a wealthy background. This has not been my experience as a white, male teenager, though I have no resentment against such figures.
We are all fundamentally alone in this world, and as such, we do not deserve anything from anyone. The very premise that someone should give up their seat for another on the basis of alleviating their burden, while very Christian in theory, practically cultivates a culture of identitarian entitlement. To succeed, one must labor alone, without expecting some external force to bend over backwards to place you on par with the more successful demographic.
I am a white, male teenager, who happens to be both a journalist and a part of the newly-defined Generation Z. I did not receive a head-start in life, by any means, yet I am financially independent and attending my state’s flagship school. It should not be assumed that my responses to the points listed above should be understood as unanimously shared among my generational cohort, but should rather be taken on the basis of its own merit.