White Privilege: An Article of Left-Wing Faith
In Yiddish, the term dreck means excrement, dung, crap, or worthless junk. It is an apt term for the deliberate psychological damage being inflicted upon young Americans as they navigate the leftist swamp of higher education.
White privilege, or whiteness studies, is now an entrenched part of far too many -ology and humanities classes. This notion of white skin privilege has become an "article of faith among progressives," who assert that "whites, by definition and DNA, would remain racists, even if unwittingly, until the end of time."
Peggy McIntosh, associate director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, describes "white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets[.] White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, code books, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks" (McIntosh, 1989). She distributes the following, and students are asked to mark those that apply. A few of the items include:
- I can arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
- I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
- I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
- When I am told about our national heritage or about civilization, I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
- I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
- I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the food I grew up with, into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can deal with my hair.
- Whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial responsibility.
- I can take a job or enroll in a college with an affirmative action policy without having my co-workers or peers assume I got it because of my race.
- I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated.
- I am never asked to speak for all of the people of my racial group.
- I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk with the person in charge[,] I will be facing a person of my race.
- If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven't been singled out because of my race.
- I can easily see posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and children's magazines featuring people of my race.
- I can choose blemish cover or bandages in flesh color and have them more or less match my skin.
- I can walk into a classroom and know I will not be the only member of my race.
- I can enroll in a class at college and be sure that the majority of my professors will be of my race.
Other instructors use a system of privilege points with a scoring result. In addition, there are items such as "[a]dd one point if your ancestors were forced to come to the U.S. or forced to relocate from their historical lands in the U.S., and add three points if that did not happen to your ancestors," or "[a]dd one point if English is not your first language[;] add three points if it is." Thus, depending on the score, the results will indicate whether some obstacles or some resources or many obstacles or many resources will either interfere or support an individual "simply because of race."
I wonder what food McIntosh is talking about. Is it kosher corned beef, Italian meatballs, collard greens, grits, garri (a popular West African food made from cassava tubers), fried chicken, McDonald's, Hoppin Jon, the Ethiopian dish known as wat, or turkey with all the trimmings?
And that music thing – is this supposed to include black classical musicians such as Frank Johnson (1792-1844), who was the first black American to have his works published as sheet music, or does she mean Blind Tom Wiggins (1849-1908), who performed Bach and Beethoven as well as his own compositions? Perhaps she is referring to Guadeloupe-born and Paris-based Chevalier De Saint-George (1739-1799), who was called the "black Mozart"? Or is it jazz, boogie-woogie, blues, gospel, samba, or ragtime?
As Lloyd Billingsley writes, "[t]alent has no color, and in the late [']50s on 'American Bandstand,' teens were astonished to discover that groups they thought were black, such as the Tokens, were all white and groups they thought were white, such as the Silhouettes, were all black. Other groups were black and white: The Crests, The Marcels, The Del-Vikings, Booker T. and the M.G.s[,] and others but that was not a new thing."
And would the Jewish diaspora count as being displaced from historical lands? Unlikely, since, according to left-wing ideologues, Jews are all white – guess they never met the Black Jews of Harlem, or Ethiopian Jews, or other dark-skinned Middle Eastern Jews from the Arab world!
And affirmative action – now, there's an interesting twist. You mean where different racial groups are awarded SAT bonus points – e.g., 230 bonus points for blacks, 185 extra points for Hispanics?
And so the stage is set. From its inception, this so-called whiteness discipline "bore no resemblance whatsoever to other group identity-based curricula like Black Studies, Chicano Studies, and Women's Studies." These fields celebrated their respective groups, but Whiteness Studies consistently depicts whites as "malevolent oppressors of people with darker complexions."
In essence, the left has turned American universities into "havens for race hatred." Peter Christopher Pappas in his book Fanning the Flames recalls how once liberal Tammy Bruce writes about the Saul Alinksy "tactic of fanning the flames of resentment."
Twist any and every event under the rubric of human relations into an assault on women, blacks, gays...and exploit it. If [the event doesn't fit,] then an appropriate incident must be invented to remind your constituents of their victimhood.
Examples abound of what students face when they innocently walk into a classroom.
- Jeff Hitchcock, the co-founder and executive director of the Center for the Study of White American Culture, has said, "There is plenty to blame whiteness for. There is no crime that whiteness has not committed against people of color."
- "White privilege is a hidden and transparent preference that is often difficult to address. Only on closer inspection do we see how it creates a sense of entitlement, generates perks and advantages for white people[,] and elevates our status in the world." The quotation is excerpted from White Anti-Racist Activism: A Personal Roadmap by Jennifer R. Holladay, M.S. (Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books, Inc., 2000), as used by the site Teaching Tolerance.
- White privilege means you never have to explain why cultural appropriation is a bad thing.
Does this mean that if black people straighten their hair, that is white hair appropriation?
Is it wrongful appropriation, as journalist Zipporah Gene maintains, when she asks black Americans to stop wearing African clothing and tribal marks since it indicates "ignorance and cultural insensitivity." Yikes – what level of censure will the fashionistas be held to as they appropriate the hijab?
By the way, if I were to go to Africa and study in a university, is it black privilege that most of my professors will be black and that I might even be one of only a few dozen light-skinned individuals and that I would have to learn Yoruba or Fulani to navigate my way and show respect to the citizens of the country in which I reside?
Until thinking Americans who vote for much needed school budgets or fork over thousands of dollars of college tuition money start demanding an end to "this imposition of white guilt and universal black innocence," the left will continue to pit "various groups of people against one another simply because of the melanin level of their skin."
Eileen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.