Friday, October 31, 2008

Living White Privilege

By Eavon Lee Mobley, Managing Editor at the Kirwan Institute

Wow. I hadn’t expected the response from my sister when I emailed Tim Wise’s article “This is Your Nation on White Privilege” to her. I thought the article gave easy-to-understand examples of the concept of white privilege as Tim Wise stated in his opening statement. My sister responded: “This e-mail is bad do I send you Nation on Black privilege.” I haven’t received her answer to my question: “What is Black privilege?”

But the point I want to make is that my sister’s response to being presented with the facts of “White Privilege” is all about blame. When someone feels they are blamed for something it is human nature to try to shift the blame to someone or something else. Come on … we have all at least one time in our life sought to avoid taking the blame for something. Maybe early on a parent or other adult figure taught us the value of taking responsibility for our acts. Or maybe we learned on our own as we wrestled with our conscience. Or maybe we are still learning. Or maybe we aren’t even aware.

The reality is that every day white people are living white privilege. And that privilege spans the whole range of socio-economic status in our society. Yeah that’s right…it’s a privilege whether you are white and rich or white and poor.

Let’s get back to blame. So what are whites blamed for…the inequitable treatment of nonwhites…and what do whites counter with…Black privilege (?)…

It’s a dead end street. What white people need to do is acknowledge the existence of white privilege and stop the blame game. We need to discuss white privilege in a transformative way and get beyond the finger pointing and on to working towards an equitable society for all Americans. Let’s bring the discussion out in the open. Yes… if you are a white American you benefit from privileges and status that are not available to nonwhite Americans… “it’s as plain as the nose on your face.”


  1. "working towards an equitable society for all Americans. Let’s bring the discussion out in the open."

    The trouble is, that the discussion will supress the considerable evidence that groups differ in average ability. We know in terms of evolution, that groups exposed to different environmental pressures may develop distinct genetic traits. This is clear in athletics.

    In terms of academic ability, it is quite clear that Ashkenazi Jews & East Asians, on average, outperform whites.

    For example, in Brazil, it is the Japanese who are the highest-achieving group. They were brought in as indentured labourers to work the plantations after slavery was abolished in 1888. Yet, today, the Japanese outscore Whites on IQ tests. Seven studies of Jews in Britain yield a median IQ of 110. In educational achievement, East Asians in Britain also outperform the indigenous Whites. Similarly in Australia, East Asians (mostly Chinese and Vietnamese) average higher than Whites in IQ, educational achievement, and earnings. There are pockets of ethnic Chinese elsewhere in the world such as in Mexico, Argentina, and especially Hawaii, where they also do well.

    These results are remarkably consistent over time, place, and situation, irrespective of the original status of the people, or the language, history, and political organization of the country concerned.

    By ignoring these factors, we risk demonising successful groups, as happened to the Armenian Jews or Jews in Germany. Also the Chinese in Mayaysia.

  2. Please, invest in my community for the next 40 years on a disproportionate basis and see the result.

    We [african-americans] were in slavery from 1619 to 1865, then the government was against us till 1965, then they killed the programs supposed to help us in the 70's ie OEO and its fellows. Then we had Reagan and twenty years of Reagan lite.

    Now in 2009 we have a chance to at last address the problems through a sunsetted 40 year investment in people, at least in Ohio we have that chance.

    This will change the environment for our children's children and expose the falsity the statement that [racial, ethnic, religious] groups differ in average ability.