The other night on facebook, I found myself in a weird argument with someone who thought there really was white privilege because “you can go anywhere and be treated like a human being.”
I’m not 100% sure what he means by “being treated like a human being” because casting a long eye to history and how human beings who ain’t from around here are treated, I’m glad to say I’ve never been — on the mild side — run out of town or killed and thrown in an acid pit.
The “ain’t from around here” is operational here, as is the concept of “fitting in” which is how you earn not getting the “ain’t from around here” treatment.
Does it have to do with skin color? Maybe. Sometimes. If one area is uniformly one color, of course you’re going to stick out if you aren’t. As in, try being a Scandinavian in Portugal when I was growing up and it wasn’t as touristy. If you had moved in, your surname of use would officially become “The blonds” because no one would know your real name. And that’s if you were lucky and it didn’t become “Bleached” or “Raw milk” or something equally weird.
And no, even in the US, that “you belong” treatment is not bestowed on whites universally. For one because, as a (appears white) friend who grew up in a black-majority area, yeah, black people are human too and give outsiders the weather eye. Second because there are things you can do to mitigate that.
My sons don’t appear black (well, the younger if he’s tanned, looks half way there, partly because his hair grows upward) but they appear “mixed race” (Human race. We think. Most of the time.) and are both large, swarthy and male. By the time they were in their mid-teens they found that total strangers skeedaddled away from them backwards. Or — poor older son — that they had to argue for hours to get the “honors cords” for their graduation gowns. Or that their departmental honors and second degree wouldn’t be called out at graduation (while the “honors” of the tiny, bespectacled guys and chicks graduating from studies were.” Or that, when found in an area of school/college reserved for serious pursuits, they were questions and in one case told that “you jocks don’t know this.”
What have they done? They’ve mitigated by dressing in slightly old fashioned ways, wearing their hair short, and talking with old-fashioned courtesy.
White privilege? Well, hell no. “Insider privilege.” And you can fake it.
I look white-ish, particularly if I’m ill (I don’t like my look in the mirror these days.) But I open my mouth, and I don’t belong (It would probably not be a problem if I’d stayed first time I came out. If you immigrate before 18 you mostly lose your accent.)
So, coming in late into a Shakespeare panel (conferences put me on them for years after that series was out of print) at world fantasy, where I not only am the chick with the accent, but I’m also the one who isn’t a college professor? I belonged in ten minutes. In fact I over-belonged, as I started correcting their fallacious spit-balling. I was the one people clustered around as the panel ended. Mostly because — signs of a misspent youth — of an overgrown vocabulary and knowing way too much about good old Will Waggstaff. (I used to, I did.)
Usually the reaction the left misunderstands as prejudice is “Human reaction to outsiders” which again, looking at history, mostly comes down to “common sense, and don’t want to die.”
The last century in the US has been relatively law-abiding. Taking the ability to move about freely and not be killed and thrown in an acid pit for granted or for belonging to a skin color is not the brightest thing to do.
But it is a symptom of the left’s persistent inability to confuse the wrapper with the gift.
“People in majority white areas are more likely to be okay with white people coming in. Reeee.White privilege.” Or, perhaps, the reasonable assumption that you know, a white person is someone’s cousin or otherwise lost family member.
And btw, this doesn’t apply to every white person in a white area, either. I don’t know if it was here or over on sosh media, but some idiot tried to tell me my objection to homeless everywhere downtown Denver is that I was racist, and my reaction was ‘what?? Against whites? No. I got over being scared of blond people because they were blond by six.” Because Denver is a mostly white city and yeah, there is the occasional black homeless person, but 99% of the feral crackheads are white. Privilege? Well, we haven’t dissolved them in acid pits. No bets on it if society breaks down completely, though.
Again, a lot of it can be mitigated by how you dress, where you go, etc.
And note here that I’m the first one to say when shopping for #1 son’s first apartment we paid about $400 more than needed to get him in a “Safe area” because you know what? In a bad light, he can look Latin or black or “undefinable” (with mask he might look undefinable Asian, because he has anime-eyes.) You see the cheaper apartments were in an area where there were routine fire fights between black and Latin gangs. Because of what he was studying, he kept late hours. Stepping out of his car, bleary eyed, in the wee hours, he might move wrong/go to the wrong place. I didn’t want him shot.
OTOH I probably would have done the same had he been blond (you have no idea what all fell into the ketchup! Let’s say it was a possibility) because he’d have stuck out like a sore thumb and been taken for a police informer. On yet the third paw, the problem wasn’t lack of privilege, the problem was that the local communities “of color” (Thank heavens that’s not racist, unlike “colored”) have an history of violence and criminality and that’s where his school was.
So, there are things you can do to earn that “won’t get dirty looks/thrown in an acid pit” and 90% of it is how you dress/behave.
Think about it, if a young black guy in tats and ripped/dirty clothes comes to the door, you’re not going to react the same as if a young black guy in a shirt, dark suit and tie comes to the door (in which case you hide behind the sofa while the nice black Mormon missionary shouts earnestly at you through the letter flap.)
This morning it occurred to me this is related to the notion of respect, and how it changed between my kids and I.
In my generation, with the older boomers and their attempts at being hip just having become teachers, I knew it was a bad, bad sign when I came into the class room and the teacher, instead of being referred to as Doctor so and so (It’s complicated. Technically school teachers have a licentiate, not a doctorate. Also traditionally, they’re called “doctor”. Probably some medieval thing.) they started in with “Call me Manuel/Maria/whatever.”
Because they had respect — “doctor so and so” — because getting into college, much less graduating was difficult and earned through exams. But they wanted to subvert that and be “one of you.” I always knew these people would suck at teaching AND try to raise my consciousness, or whatever
Meanwhile, when my kids went to school, the danger sign was “you have to respect me, because I’m a teacher.” We got this from illiterate morons (to be fair, some were half wits) who didn’t know their subject and were trying to browbeat the kids into believing stuff that was never so. “We” because I got some idiot children on my blog telling me I had to respect one of these morons because “she’s a teacher.” Oh, reeeeeely? I’m better educated, I’m smarter, and she’s doing strange crap to the subject I actually have a degree in.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is “a brief history of the left.” First, subvert the legitimate reasons for respecting someone. Then demand respect based on irrelevant, incidental or outright stupid reasons.
Hence their current war on meritocracy: i.e. what people earned. And their demand that you extend “equity” i.e. benes based on people looking vaguely like other people who might have been oppressed some places by people who maybe (in my case, very maybe, depending on the day) look somewhat like you.
Oh, and their demand you get treated like a human being even though they’ve made war on the fact that everyone should be considered human until proven otherwise, and on the greatest leveler of the human race and reason not to throw strangers in an acid pit: Judeo-Christian culture and beliefs.
Most of the time, the only safe thing when the left demands something is to tell them “No. Go fish.”
Because in the end what they aim for is always graft for them and their buddies. Because they’ll be the arbiter of “who will serve and who will eat” regardless of what they say. And in the end they and their buddies (If you didn’t vote for Biden, you ain’t black, after all) are always the ones who eat.
Liberal privilege by any other name.