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Why Do White Americans Ignore Their ‘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:
Why do you think white Americans ignore their “white privilege” that is a direct result of the history of slavery in this country? For example, I often hear whites comment, “I didn’t own any slaves … so why do I owe an apology/money/etc?” I just want to scream, “Yeah, but you
ALL directly benefit from it.”

Answer:

Most people do not think of “history” beyond their own experience. I would also say that my enlightenment has also led me to understand that the history I was taught was “whitewashed.”

 

Although you’re absolutely right about all white people benefiting from white privilege, most white people have never given it a thought.

 

Although there are bigots out there, the underpinnings of comments like “I didn’t own any slaves” are almost always ignorance, not bigotry.

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3 Comments

  • Whites don’t owe blacks anything. They weren’t involved, but the fact of the matter that blacks still suffer for centuries of mistreatment, so the decent thing to do is to be supportive of equal rights and help out your fellow man regardless of race.

    But I would never proclaim that they owe us for what their ancestors did, that just has a several misunderstanding of being guilty is.

  • Why are there tens of millions of white men unemployed? Did they forget to get their white privilege card? White men are the last group in America that doesn’t have political groups working night and day to get them special privileges. “Affirmative action”, aka black privilege, gives minorities and especially blacks a free ride through life, discriminating against white men in university admissions, all facets of employment, union apprenticeships, government contracts, military promotions, civil service, police and fire department hiring, etc etc etc.

    The whole country is rigged to favor minorities – don’t talk to me about any mythical white privilege.

    • Luke Visconti

      White people still enjoy a higher employment rate than Blacks or Latinos. Until a lawsuit recently forced the issue, the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) was 94 percent white in a city that is only 35 percent white. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

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