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What Is White Privilege?

Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

Ask the White Guy Luke ViscontiQuestion:
So in order for someone to be racist, they must be a minority in the entire country? What about places where blacks predominate like Detroit and D.C. where they hold the political power? Can they be racist there? You avoided the question. Are you telling me racism is related to national power and percentages of the overall population rather than the actions of individuals at a local level?

By the way, if you want to solve the “problem” of white privilege, then how about removing all the non-white people from the USA? Then everyone would be white and there would be no assumed benefit of being white.

This of course would happen instantaneously and without anyone ever even noticing the loss of this privilege particularly since it never existed in the first place.

Answer:
White people comprise the dominant culture in our country. Dominance is what racism is based on. The fact that some local areas are predominantly black, or have black political leaders, is meaningless.

There’s no “problem” with white privilege. It exists. The beauty of white privilege is that white people can apply it to help non-white people and their white privilege is not diminished as a result.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

I have a question for you: Why are you torturing yourself by reading this website?

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6 Comments

  • Gayle Edmond

    LOVED LOVED LOVED that last line! You are a hoot! When you retire, please go into the comedy field! :-)

  • Actually the fact that there is Anglo (non Latino white) privilege is a problem.

    It is not privilege based on the individual’s actions, knowledge, intelligence, education, skills, but only on the accident of birth. It’s equivalent to the “nobility” in monarchical societies.

  • Alfred Utton

    CEM, Thank you very much for comparing white privilege to nobility. It’s a very clear analogy that I will use in the future.

  • Karam Ley

    You missed the correct exit following this train of thought when you developed tunnel vision, but you can always leave the bandwagon and try to follow actual facts in lieu of spin and speculation. Those in power have always oppressed, subjugation knows no color and feeds off of inaction and confusion. Being of noticeable African descent is usually associated with poverty, crime, and so on. The reason for this is a culture developed through oppression, combined with profiling and more oppression. You sir, are confusing privilege with not being oppressed based on cultural stereotypes. Let me use an analogy, being able to pay for an expensive house away from poverty stricken areas is a privilege, however, not being targeted as a possible criminal based on your race is a right, not a privilege. You are lowering the bar on how we should expect to be treated by this police state. You are also forgetting about demographics, if you live in a low income area it doesn’t matter whether you are black or brown or white, the police will harass you regardless. If you peer deeper, you begin to see it’s about poverty. Poverty is the real problem and is closely tied to either being an unplanned child, a child of parents with deficiencies in finances or coping skills, or becoming a parent unexpectedly and having children beyond your means. Instead of describing a schism relative to your own biased perspective, try to see more of the picture. I grew up in poverty, and I have never been given a break. What I did find is that there is a link between poverty, drug addiction, and crime. There is also a link between large numbers of Americans of African descent and poverty. Poverty, crime, and drug addiction can be transposed as either cause or effect but it seems that poverty is the cause more often than not. There will always be those fed to the system until the system changes, and while the resource disparity continually grows, so too will the number of those harmed. You will only see a change in the ratio of impoverished races with proper education, healthcare(including state provided contraception), and a devaluation of negative cultural components. I fear that because you have a vested interest in your point of view that this is wholly pointless. Dissenters are not often welcomed, especially by those who are mere cogs in the system I referred to earlier, blind to all but profit and success by any means necessary.

  • Karam Ley

    Almost forgot to ask, I have yet to see anything coherent on the concept of white privilege. Specifically, how one could wield this mythical power to their benefit, and the benefit of others. You refer to doing this, yet never give an example, especially one that doesn’t sound like a contrived anecdote. No, I am not white but I tend to be confused as being Caucasian. I am only mentioning this as the go to rebuttal is usually centered around whether or not a dissenter is white.

    • I founded DiversityInc, which has changed the course of history. I attribute much of my success to the fact that I had no obvious stake in the game being white, Christian, male, heterosexual (and until 14 months ago, no disabilities).

      That’s how I used my white privilege. One tangible is the $1.4mm I’ve donated to charity, primarily to fund scholarships for poor students.

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