On the issue of Charlotte's pervasive notions of white privilege | CLT Blog

On the issue of Charlotte’s pervasive notions of white privilege

Posted on 19 May 2009 by Desiree Kane

To quote Rage Against the Machine: “If ignorance is bliss then knock the smile off my face.” White privilege is alive and well in Charlotte.

Wikipedia puts it in a nutshell:

White privilege is a set of perceived advantages enjoyed by white people beyond those commonly experienced by non-white people in those same social, political, and economic spaces (nation, community, workplace, income, etc.). It differs from racism or prejudice in that a person benefiting from white privilege does not necessarily hold racist beliefs or prejudices himself and can be, as is often the case, unaware of his privilege.

There’s no doubt in my mind that there are people who will emphatically deny that white privilege is present in Charlotte — but just because Charlotte is a cosmopolitan city in the new millennium doesn’t mean nasty Old South values aren’t still in our midst. Pinning down this surreptitious thing into something formidable is tough. The definition of this concept highlights that – those whom are given the privilege are often unaware.

I, too, was unaware of such a thing until recently. At the risk of sounding self absorbed for a moment, I’ll explain: I excel in work settings where I’m given the liberty to do what comes naturally; helping people and being tech savvy are the two areas in which I excel. In my job as an executive assistant and unofficial office manager, I interact a lot with those in my very ethnically diverse office. So much so that I know everyone’s face, first and last name plus their extension number.

I started out at the bottom, in the largest department which has notably the highest turnover because it’s the call center department. Soon, I became the admin assistant then the receptionist. Quickly after that, I was promoted to executive assistant, where I also became the defacto office manager, or, as I like to call myself the “Chief Factoum.” In less than a year, I was promoted three times. Along the way I noticed white privilege sneaking into my perception.

It came to me in forms of comments like “I knew you could fix this for me!” or “I knew I could count on you!” Now, mind you, I was not doing anything earth shattering, simply things that came easy to me because I am a GenY poster child with second-nature computer skills, like how to un-hide accidentally hidden rows in Excel or how to set up a default printer on someone’s workstation for them. At the time, it struck me as strange that someone with whom I’ve never interacted and who would otherwise be unfamiliar with my skill set had such pronounced faith in my abilities.This still happens to me regularly, so much so that it’s almost egregious. There’s no possible way that I’ve created this reputation for myself in the office as so reliable, smart and naturally talented as some of my co-workers suggest.

Then I started noticing it in other places too: like the grocery store’s Band-Aid section when I thought to myself that the bandages didn’t match anyone’s skin tone. I wondered how acutely aware of this people of color were because those bandages weren’t going to match their skin tone either, though it was blatantly obvious to me the Band-Aids were made for Caucasians. I noticed it even when people exit elevators in Charlotte, no matter where in the city I’m at, people of all ages expect the white girl to get off the elevator first. I’ve never had so many people look at me with surprise as when I wait my turn! It was upon exiting an elevator that I was able to metaphorically ‘put the face to the name’.

So what does white privilege look like in every day Charlottean life? I’ll give you examples of how I notice it:

  • I can have BO, be late, be ditzy, be angry, be opinionated and/or talk/blog about racially charged issues without it somehow reflecting negatively as just a trait of my entire race.
  • I am never asked, in any setting, to speak on behalf of all white people. I can honestly say I’ve never been asked, “Desiree, you’re white. Is that what white people think/do/feel?”.
  • If I need to run out to the car to ask if a specialty bread is the right specialty bread for my mom’s party, the baker will let me take it out to the car to ask then come back and pay.

And, that’s just in my day-to-day.

Does noticing it mean I’m to blame for it? No. Does it mean I’m perpetuating it by noticing it? No, but it does mean now that I’m aware of it I can do my best to not accommodate it, even if it means the benefits I’ve formally, unknowingly reaped from it disappear. The ways it’s realized are endless. Yes, white privilege is everywhere, but here is where I’ve seen it in action (note: I am not saying everyone in Charlotte is a racist).

So, I encourage you to do something today against the grain, no matter your ethnic or racial makeup because when white privilege ceases to be perpetuated by everyone, the better off Charlotte as a whole will be.

Comments

  1. Erik 19 May 2009 at 12:17 PM

    How do you know that that is white privilege? First off, a lot of people let women off the elevator first. Not white girls, not black girls, just girls. You can say whatever you want over the internet and people don’t affiliate with race here because, and you may want to sit down for this, people don’t see race over the internet, only personality. Perhaps that baker let you take that bread out to your car because you asked nicely? You know some people do naturally seem more trustworthy than others, and that isn’t a race thing, its more of a personality thing. I can promise you that the baker would’ve let anyone do what you did as long as they were polite about it. Also if your job is too fix computers, then it should be pretty obvious that someone would think you could fix their computers. What they tell you probably isn’t racial charged, they probably were just being nice. But the next time I say something like that I’ll be sure to say, “I knew you could do it! But not because you are white, its just that you seemed qualified above anyone else to do it. Not saying that you are necessarily better than the other coworkers who are ethnically different its just that you were the closest to me at the time and seemed like you could fix it because you said you could.”

  2. Park 19 May 2009 at 12:46 PM

    I’m white and work in a large national company here in Charlotte. I’ve noticed the exact opposite. I have been asked by groups of blacks at multiple times here if I am racist because I’m from Alabama, or because I am white. Other whites in this company have told me they experience the same thing. All i want to do when I go to work is work. I don’t want to talk about my possibly being racist, NEVER MIND the fact that that is racism in itself.

    Can I say anything though? No. It’s one person of a historically prejudiced background against many many more whose ancestors suffered atrocites at ehite hands. Its easier to management to deny it happens than go into some so-called “reverse racism” thing.

    Also your examples arent white privilege. It’s southern hospitality.

  3. Jameka 19 May 2009 at 12:57 PM

    In reference to the comment above—it always amazes me when people, especially white people, never want to at least entertain the possibility that things like racism, bigotry, prejudice and yes “white privilege” do indeed exist in our lovely modern society (and always make excuses—perhaps it wasn’t racism, etc…). The fact of the matter is that we (meaning white, black and other) have been socialized to accept certain behaviors/activities as the acceptable norm without question. It’s become part of the social fabric of this country.

    White privilege as discribed in this post is not earth shattering news to most people of color. We live it every day, even in the most cosmopolitan of areas. But, honestly, it’s nice to see someone who isn’t black talking about it for once. Acknowledgement that a problem exists is the first step in fixing it. Let’s just be real and start having open and honest discussions.

  4. ellen 19 May 2009 at 1:59 PM

    Thanks for this post, Desiree. I just started reading a book by Tim Wise called White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son. I’m only in the second chapter, but would highly recommend it, especially to whites who think they do not benefit from any white privilege. Here’s the Amazon page, if anyone’s interested: http://www.amazon.com/White-Like-Me-Reflections-Privileged/dp/1933368993/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1242755580&sr=11

  5. Mark 19 May 2009 at 2:19 PM

    I really think that it comes down largely to how a person presents themselves. How professional and mature (from any background) is your image? If you are white and come off as a degenerate, people will treat you as such. If you are black and come off as a degenerate, people will treat you as such. Does Charlotte have a degree of “White privilege”..? It appears that it does to some extent. This seems to be tied into the Southern lineage of thinking, mixed with predominant mindsets of some of the Southern religious views – that structured dogmatic and somewhat elitist reality tunnel. I have experienced much less limited thinking patterns in cities such as Miami, New York, and especially, many areas of Europe. This is also reflected within the Arts. The museums certainly try – however, where are all the progressive galleries and music spots. I can think of three galleries that think outside the norm; few alternative music spots and limited multi-cultural activities. Charlotte is a very nice city, but still in growing pains.

  6. Trent 19 May 2009 at 2:42 PM

    So you’re saying that you felt privileged that someone assumed you would know how to set the default setting on his/her printer? Must be nice to be your boss.

  7. Denise 19 May 2009 at 3:16 PM

    Finally … something of substance and well-written. Thanks.

  8. H 19 May 2009 at 4:20 PM

    While I do believe that racism and prejudice still exists in some capacities and for many ethnicities and identifying groups, I do not think that any of the examples or instances given in this post give any sort of evidence of “white privilege” or really anything other than appreciation being shown for performing a task. Because you are complimented does not automatically mean that its because you are white.
    Secondly, in response to Jameka’s comment about people (especially white people) being unable to entertain the idea of racism existing: This is a prejudice statement in itself. You cannot make an argument against racism and in the same sentence make an over generalizing statement about an entire ethnicity.

  9. d. potts 19 May 2009 at 5:49 PM

    To me white privilege is much more than just being let off of an elevator first, or being seated before others at a restaurant, or having my co-workers expect that I can competently fix software problems.

    Privilege (whether we’re talking about whiteness, or even class), is more about the assets that you unknowingly carry with you — the fact that you (and I say that ‘you’ in the general sense that includes me) likely had the benefit of growing up with both parents, even if they were divorced. It’s likely that you grew up in a part of town that was economically and socially stable, and didn’t have mistrust or fear of your neighbors ingrained in your psyche from an early age. You probably finished college, and did it with a fair amount of economic support from your parents and relatives. The company you work for is probably owned by people who share your skin color and cultural background — making it easy for you to navigate the informal networks and therefore land those promotions.

    I’ll agree with Desiree and Meck — it exists, and it sucks. Tackling it though, requires a much deeper shift. If we’re only willing to go so far as to recognize it, and maybe change some of our small behaviors — instead of seriously addressing the underlying social and economic inequalities — then all we’re doing is improving our manners.

  10. Erik 19 May 2009 at 5:59 PM

    2 black guys walk into a bar.

    then they order drinks.

    then they leave.

  11. Summer 19 May 2009 at 9:41 PM

    I suspect that the comments regarding the computer have more to do with ageism then white privilege. The elevator thing strikes me as interesting and may well qualify as white privilege.

    I would argue however that these privilege has more to do with the fact that you are pretty, female and young, not to mention able to afford and capable of pairing a grown up, professional outfit then simply because you are white. If you were unattractive, older, less articulate and unable to afford or match clothing choices, you’d receive less privileges in certain arenas.

    I once worked in an office as an admin, and had similar experiences. I was young, pretty, articulate, well dressed and smart. I worked and lived in an area where there was very little ethnic diversity, so I doubt white privilege had anything to do with my treatment as we were all from similar socio-economic circles. On that point, I agree w/ Ms. Meck.

    I see a great deal of sexism in my industry which, I openly admit, benefits me. Now, I am good at what I do — very good at it. However, I am certain, the fact I am a woman influences the number of clients who walk through my door. If you doubt that, ask a male massage therapist about his challenges… and ask how many of your friends/coworkers want to go to a male therapist. There are other subtleties to it, some of which I’m sure have to do with age, etc as well.

    I can also not argue strongly enough about the abusive attitudes of people based on weight. I have personally heard every awful “skinny girl” joke on the planet, and *hate* them all. Somehow it is socially acceptable to pick on the thin girl, whether she’s that way by chance or work. And I know I’m not alone in this — I actually got a dm from a friend once that said, “You do know skinny girls aren’t allowed to publicly tell their clothing size.” I’m a size 2 people. I used to be a size 6. I’ve done nothing to cause this change, other then nearly die. Enough with the hate.

    My point, before I get all red in the face and off topic, is that I think we’re all privileged or disadvantaged in some way. The problem is not being white or black or fat or skinny or short or tall or male or female, the problem is hate and prejudice and human nature. We fear what is different, what is separate, and we revere whatever it is we wish we were or think we want, even if in reality it’s not any better, we just think it might be because we’re tired of the prejudice we’ve been receiving.

    In some places, in some situations, the prejudice & the opposing privilege is worse then others, I dont disagree with that. What we need to do is not simply stand up against racism or white privilege or sexism or whatever else it is; we need to stand up against hate, against people thinking they or anyone else is “better”. Because we’re human beings, every last one of us, and we need to remember that the only way to equality is to actually acknowledge that we neither better or worse then our neighbor, simply different, with different struggles which are just as hard, painful, joyous and wonderful as ours.

    Then, and only then, will all this silliness end.

  12. Avatar of James Willamor
    James Willamor 20 May 2009 at 11:30 AM

    Some would say that the era of more than 300 years of transatlantic slave trade is long gone and we are now in a post-racial era, and having even elected an African-American as President. While slavery officially ended in the U.S. with the passing 13th Amendment in 1865, oppression and discrimination, though steadily declining, continues to this day. At the time our President was born, his parents could not have legally been married in 16 of our states (see Loving v. Virginia). We have to be honest and say that centuries to oppression surely cannot be overcome in a few short decades.

    The issue is far from being just a white and black issue. One need look no further that the comment section of any local news article about immigration to see the hate and vitriol spewed towards our immigrant neighbors in our city. Elsewhere in North Carolina, Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell was quoted in the 9÷7÷08 Raleigh News & Observer referring to Latinos as “trashy” and they “breed like rabbits.” According to Bizzell “drunk Mexicans” “rape, rob and murder” Americans. Yet in the past decade, as the population of undocumented immigrants has surged in that county, violent crime rates have dropped by almost half, according to the State Bureau of Investigation. Property crimes there are also down. The Sheriff did not resign and was not fired over his comments — which leads one to ask “What if he had spoke of African-Americans or Jews that way? Would the people of our state have protested louder? Why or why not?”

    Our community must find a way to make immigration fair while respecting the dignity of all human life. It has been a tough issue throughout the history of our country, from the Alien and Sedition Act, to the backlash against Chinese immigrants in the American West, to the open violence in the streets of New York against the “Irish hordes”, to the internment camps for Japanese-Americans in WWII. As Thomas Wenski, Bishop of Orlando, has said, “The so-called ‘illegals’ are so not because they wish to defy the law; but, because the law does not provide them with any channels to regularize their status in our country – they are not breaking the law, the law is breaking them.”

    Much of the notions of “white privilege,” segregation, discrimination, and anti-immigrant sentiment are due more to fear, I believe, than pure racial hatred. Fear is what drives life for many in our city. Fear of change. Fear of a shifting racial power structure. Fear of something or somebody different. It stems from an “us versus them” mentality and an oversimplification of everything as being either “good” or “evil.” There is no room for gray. We are taught that the world is out to get us – to destroy our country, our community, and our values. Power hungry politicians and pastors (with an increasingly blurred line between the two) demonize those who are different as a method to keep their followers in check. “The gays want to destroy all our families, the Mexicans are stealing all our jobs, and the welfare-loving Blacks are stealing all our tax money.”

    There is no room at the table for opposing views or independent thought. In their minds, good Americas are being persecuted. Cable news commentators and pastors have told me the 1950’s were the greatest time in our nation’s history. When I hear that today I’m shocked. After all, in the 1950’s segregation was in full force, Jim Crow laws were in effect, and the glass ceiling was as high and firm as ever.

    Here’s something I’ve noticed, given my experience growing up in predominately white exurbs of Charlotte – many of the white, suburban, upper-to-middle class residents can deal with being around a few people who are foreign or different — they can deal with being around one immigrant, one homeless person, one black person, one gay person. What they can’t deal with is being a minority. They have a great fear when they are the minority in any situation — they feel unsafe, and they feel they don’t have control. I’ve spoken with numerous residents of area suburbs that refuse to go to neighborhoods such as NoDa, Plaza-Midwood, or Southend because they claim these neighborhoods are too unsafe and plagued with crime. I’ve also heard the phrase “nothing but a bunch of Mexicans” when mentioning various parts of the city. In my neighborhood I’m a minority — everybody in my neighborhood is an ethic minority; there is no majority. It’s a relatively safe community but many suburban residents would never venture here — to them it’s a “ghetto” and “unsafe” — often code words for “there be black or brown people here.”

    Fear separates and divides us as a community. We, as a city, will not be able to properly address issues of homelessness, poverty, humane treatment of immigrants, and racial equality until we open our ears, hearts, and minds to those that are different than us. Many people in Charlotte donate to charities, but donations are not enough. To affect change, more people have to be willing to tear down the walls that separate us. The problem isn’t that we don’t care about the poor, but that we don’t know the poor — and are too afraid to try. Religious writers Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw wrote in their book “Jesus for President” -

    People sometimes ask if we are scared of the inner city. We say we are more scared of the suburbs. Our Jesus warns that we can fear those things which can harm our bodies or those things which can destroy our souls, but we should be far more fearful of the latter. Those are the subtle demons of suburbia. As Shane’s mother says, “Perhaps there is no more dangerous place for a Christian to be than in safety and comfort, detached from the suffering of others.” We’re scared of apathy and complacency, of detaching ourselves of others. It’s hard to see until our 20/20 hindsight hits us, but every time we lock someone out, we lock ourselves in. Just as we are building walls to keep people out of our comfortable, insulated existence, we are trapping ourselves in a hell of isolation, loneliness, and fear. We have “gated communities” where rich folk live. We put up picket fences around our suburban homes. We place barbed wire and razor wire around our buildings and churches. We put bars on our windows in the ghettos of fear. We build up walls to keep immigrants from entering our country. We guard out borders with those walls – Berlin, Jerusalem, Jericho. And the more walls and gates and fences we have, the closer we are to hell. We, like the rich man, find ourselves locked into our gated homes and far from the tears of Lazarus outside, far from the tears of God.”

  13. Dave 20 May 2009 at 4:32 PM

    White Privilege is a deeper and more compacted issue then who gets to exit an elevator 1st. If you a black male – there is a 1 in 6 chance you will go or have been in prison. African Americans have a drop out rate of around 50% compared to 75% white, 70% of African American Babies are born out of wedlock , African Americans make up nearly 50% of all aids cases, nearly 40% of Female African American woman have a child before the age of 20.

    White Privilege is walking into a room and not having these statistics hanging over your head. It’s a job application with out the assumption you have been to jail, It’s taking your little sister to the park and not have people wonder if that’s your kid. Its not have people surprised that your parents live together. White Privilege is “boys will be boys” verses “we have called the police” when you get caught playing dingdong digit. White Privilege is not have to explain that your grade point got you the scholarship not your race, White Privilege is not have to deal with the pity of people who think your big problems in life has to do with elevators and niceness of bakers.

  14. Jameka 20 May 2009 at 4:42 PM

    James– What an incredibly thoughtful response. Thank you for sharing.

    H”- Actually, I can make any statement I like especially if it is (a) based on my personal experience and (b) my opinion. My generalization is applicable to my experiences of: growing up in a predominately white neighorhood, attending a predominately white grammar school, attending a predominately white and affluent prep school, attending a private predominately white university and finally working in a predominately white corporate environment for all of my adult life after finishing grad school. I am sharing what I have experienced first hand, not what I “suspect.”

    And I am not sure if what is described in this post is truly white privilege or not…but what I am thrilled about is that the author’s statement, at the very least, helped us to start the conversation…and that in itself is priceless.

  15. Desiree Kane 20 May 2009 at 6:45 PM

    First all, THANK YOU for your comments.

    Dave — Truly, everything you said I could not have articulated any better and your comments support what I was trying to touch on when I gave the example “I can have BO, be late, be ditzy, be angry, be opinionated and/or talk/blog about racially charged issues without it somehow reflecting negatively as just a trait of my entire race.”

    The white privilege I speak of transcends everything else, even sexism and ageism in my opinion. I mean, even in my article I used the term “people of color” which can be seen as a form of systematic propagation of notions reflecting white privilege seeping into our language because it assumes Caucasian isn’t a color, but the standard.

    I do find it interesting that people made comments/assumptions about how it must be because I’m young, pretty, female, that I can afford to dress in a way that projects a professional image (I shop at goodwill and that’s where 80% of my clothing comes from; It’s hardly a privilege to shop second hand), etc. It’s limits escape the boundaries of just elevators but for the purpose of this article I used it as my launching pad. It has nothing to do with my age or my sex when the issue has presented itself equally when I’m in groups of women of different ethnicities in my peer group and the same thing happens. Notably, I work with a black girl who models, she and her friends who are all younger than I did the same thing — waited on the white girl to exit then looked at me oddly when I said “after you” with a smile.

    I also echo what Jameka said: It’s so easy to write things off as anything other than what they are and it seemingly IS predominately white people that deny such a thing even exists. If I understand correctly this is not news to anyone in any ethnicity other than Caucasian but evokes a good bit of hostility from Caucasians across the spectrum. “Oh, it’s because you’re a woman, because you dress professionally, because you’re young, because because because.” It’s far, far beyond that. White privilege is about people’s thoughts. Like Dave said succinctly “White Privilege is walking into a room and not having these statistics hanging over your head. It’s a job application with out the assumption you have been to jail, It’s taking your little sister to the park and not have people wonder if that’s your kid. Its not have people surprised that your parents live together.” White privilege is about benefits white people don’t even know they have, nor it seems, want to admit they have either.

    White privilege is about assumptions based on skin color above everything else. How many times have you asked to speak with “the person in charge” and had someone other than a Caucasian greet you? To be perfectly honest, it doesn’t happen to me a lot tough there are always exceptions. White privilege is the assumption not just by white people but by people of ethnic minorities as well that white must somehow be “right” or “best”.

    Ideally yes, it’s about people perpetuating hate on a whole and while that’s a valid point, it’s rather idealist to just sit back and discuss how Charlotte should be liberated from hate instead of address issues as they present themselves or show themselves to our conscious self. Drilling down into ANY given issue is where the true work towards a better city happens — not in lofty discussions on the root of all human problems. I think we’re all well aware that history has a habit of showing us how hate is omnipresent in human societies.

    I’m personally proud to have evoked such intelligent conversation from our readers. This was an opinion piece that really has shown us what CLTBlog is capable of: engaging readers to participate in discussion surrounding our city. We all have a common experience from living here but being able to see a cross section (albeit biased because it’s internet based but that’s another discussion for another time) of Charlottean life that is something truly worth noticing.

  16. RTucker 20 May 2009 at 9:39 PM

    It upsets me that racism and sexism is always one way street. I have worked in a place where all of Middle management were women. And at lunch the Women Managers would go out to eat with the women employees on their team. They would Go on Beach trips together and when it came time for a promotion a Woman got it. Did I complain..no I found a new place to work.

    I honestly do not see color. I love good honest people of all colors, male and female. But in Charlotte, you have to look no further than Mecklenburg DSS to see the African American Leaders getting their family jobs. Is this ‘Black Privilege’? http://www.wcnc.com/6newsextra/investigators/stories/wcnc-031309-mw-dss_employees.2f0be31d.html — link to article about DSS hires in CLT.

    I say in general, Racism Exists in all directions…Currently, I feel that Latinos are the minority that catches it from all other races. A few years ago it was Middle Easterners. But, we are in much better place then we have ever been in the US…and I feel the examples given of ‘white privilege’ were very reaching…the elevator example just showed a poor understanding of common courtesy, where all women are allowed off the elevator first.

  17. Shannon 20 May 2009 at 9:40 PM

    As a black female, the examples of white privilege that I see on a day to day basis are much larger in scale and therefore, in many ways, more difficult to notice (but also much more damaging)

    I notice it most in CMS schools. Over the past decade, CMS has sunk incredible amounts of money into building new state-of-the-art schools farther and farther out in the (mostly white-populated) suburbs, while the inner-city schools (populated mostly by minorities) are consistently under-capacity, with many of them closing due to lack of enrollment. Those minority students are then bussed out to some other school outside their neighborhood, while the suburban parents enjoy the convenience of nearby schools and the comfort of not having to bus their children to a more diverse location.

    That’s white privilege.

    A white friend of mine living in a primarily black neighborhood undergoing “gentrification” called the police to report her next-door neighbor being beaten by her husband. The dispatcher asked, “are they black?” When my friend said yes, the dispatcher told her not to worry about it and hung up.

    That’s white privilege.

    All these slights, great and small, perpetuate the problem. Those in the seat of privilege fail to recognize that there’s an imbalance and take elevated treatment as a foregone conclusion. If I’m treated better, it’s because I am better. Those outside the seat of privilege develop a gnawing sense of inferiority. If they are always treated better, its because they are better. The only way to maintain a hierarchical society is for the players to believe in their roles.

    It can’t be denied that white privilege exists, but balancing the equation on a macroscopic scale would mean voluntarily handing over a great deal of convenience and power. Since when has that ever happened?

  18. Dave 21 May 2009 at 10:14 AM

    Shannon I have to disagree with you on your examples of white privilege – not that the incidents are not tragic or unjust, which they are, but that they are not truly white privilege.

    The School example (while in accurate according to CMS’s construction projects for the last ten years, but that is not the point) has to do with class not race. Those minorities in the further out suburbs have the same access to those state of the art school and in the same matter the white lower class students have the same disadvantage as the minorities in the inner city school the white privilege here is not the school system or suburbs it is the fact that if you are born white you have a better odds landing in the suburbs. Often time we confuse racism, white privilege and bigotry with “classism”. The white privilege part comes into play that if you are white you have better odds to be born middle class or higher which give you the privilege of being given the benefit of the doubt that you were born middle class.

    An African American Male born in Middle Class in Davidson has better opportunities and Advantages then a White Male Born in West Boulevard Homes. But if you dress them both up put them in a room full of people and ask those people who is more likely to succeed and they assume or make the generalization that it is the white guy – that’s white privilege, it may not even be racism it more likely just stereotyping.

    Your second example is just racist – that just open and shut. Also all 911 calls are recorded and are public record so if you remember the date and time you have access to the recording of the call. Which I would encourage you to do, this would also lead to disciplinary actions on the account of the attendant.

  19. Mark 25 May 2009 at 6:44 PM

    There is a flip side to this white privilege that I didn’t see comment on. And that is this: rather than pulling back on the lead group so others can gain, what about have everyone strive toward the top? Then have the lead group be whoever works to make it there. For example Obama won the election because he was clearly the best candidate. It wasn’t because white people decided that this one time they won’t be racist. Its because he earned his way there. The way he carried himself, the way he spoke, and the campaign he ran made him a better choice than McCain. And he easily won the election.

    As a white male growing up I never felt privileged. I felt average. And anyone who did better than me on anything deserved the higher status. I personally have a black boss at work. He is also younger than me. I don’t have a problem with it at all — in fact good for him! He does a good job and treats us well so I am happy with him. I wouldn’t want a different boss.

    My personal approach is to be respectful of everyone and treat them as an individual. You can’t go wrong with that.

  20. nate 30 May 2009 at 1:27 AM

    Other people have echoed this, but I thought I’d add that these issues have to do with class more than race or sex. Claiming that everything that happens is based on race is often an excuse to play the victim. Coming from southern California, where racial lines were incredibly blurred and varied, it is very clear that socioeconomic status/class are the root of issues.

    White privilege” is being confused with class norms. Because of growing up middle class (not Asian, Black, White, Hispanic, etc), I grew up with certain principles of how I spend my time, my money, my efforts, how to work, how to get ahead at work, how to relate to people (get along, persuade, constructively disagree) and with those elements, I am able to get ahead at work, impress my boss(es) and get ahead financially.

    For example, I know how to fill out job applications and do well in interviews. I understand the way I should address my boss. I know how to ‘play the game’ if you will, and that’s because I grew up middle class, not because of my race or sex. I know that I should save up for a house and buy a car used, not buy rims for my car and the most expensive cell phone/service plan/deluxe cable pack/iPod/designer clothes. I know how to budget my money and how to pay bills on time. Growing up middle class means that I know other middle class people and I could not go hungry or become homeless if I tried because I know so many people who have an extra room or an extra vehicle or would not mind lending me money, and thank God.

    The list could go on, but to blame this thing on race is just running in circles (as a sidenote, I’ve actually experienced quite a bit of racism since moving to Charlotte-being perceived as racist because I’m white). This is and will continue to be a class issue and to call it anything else just exacerbates the idea that race should have any part to play in anything. We have to move on and address class issues.