The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Grasping White Privilege: Time Has Come For Greater Attention, Understanding and Extinguishing

Bill O'Reilly has recently entertained his viewers with a sad commentary from one who is very wealthy and his wealth is without doubt a product of his opportunity to go where others dare to tread. He and Megyn "White Santa; white Jesus" Kelly, The Kelly File, debate "white privilege." O'Reilly knows whites have a majority rule upper hand in the United States. He is intelligent enough to know people flock together. Flocking breeds comfort among a group while inherent and equally puissant aversion to outsiders. 


O'Reilly knows the power of racially energizing his audience. Conversely, his audience relishes O'Reilly's false sermons while rewarding the demagogue with the highest news show ratings on cable news.   

As you will see and hear, his mission with Kelly was clear: feed the viewers a large dose of mularky via feigning there is not such thing as "White Privilege." 

Before the O'Reilly/Kelly talk-fest, check-out O'Reilly at his racist best and in full bloom white privilege. 
The Youtube poster developed the title for the segment. I would have focused on O'Reilly strategic use of the highly educated professor and progressive pundit as as fodder for his sycophant viewers via saying, "you look like a drug dealer." He did not call him a drug dealer. You will notice when Hill respond in retort to O'Reilly ("You look like a drug user"), O'Reilly fiend ignorance of "what that means." O'Reilly and his production team know statistics related to cocaine use, They know that whites consume far more powdered cocaine than black people. O'Reilly did not mention use of crack cocaine; a cheaper derivative concoction much more frequently consumed in the black community. He knew exactly what Hill meant, but his position of power on his show could not allow Hill to leave the segment with the guest's retort floating like a case of flatulence. After all, O'Reilly's remarks were aimed at tickling the racial paradigms of people who would accept his cheap characterization.

O'Reilly and Kelly on "White Privilege"

If you can stomach more O'Reilly, the net day he offered a doubled-down denial of white privilege while providing dessert to his frothing viewers.

In May of this year, Huffington Post published a piece in response to a Princeton University freshman, 's well publicized treatise of personal recognition and celebration of white privilege. 

"Why I’ll Never Apologize for My White Male Privilege"

Conservative media absorbed and relished in Fortang's treatise like a humongous celestial "Black Hole," While conservatives who infrequently visit the TPI may find the metaphorical use of the "Black Hole" against their grain in denoting the level of absorption Fortang received from the Right, there really isn't a better or more palatable analogy.

Fortang keyboarded his treatise as a kid just out of high school. Nonetheless, he was for a time right-wing media hero comparable to a victorious gladiator. Yet O'Reilly who never spoke-out against Fortang's treatise enacted his "no white privilege" crusade within months.  

Kristen Howerton's Huffington Post piece was as eloquent and point-on as it comes. The excerpt below provides a solid background for her assertion, the "fresh-faced' Princeton student, really doesn't understand white privilege. He claims a sad reality and wears it like a new pair of sneakers. 

But politics aside, 19-year-old Tal Fortgang wrote a compelling argument against having to "check his privilege," outlining the hardships his own family faced in getting where they are today. It resonated with a lot of people, and you know what? I understand why. If I believed that "white privilege" was a term meant to diminish my personal achievements... if I thought "white privilege" meant that I had to apologize for things that happened before I was born ... if I thought that "white privilege" meant that I need to be ashamed or embarrassed for being born white... if I thought that "white privilege" dismisses the very real hardships and challenges that I've had in my life... if that was my understanding of white privilege, I'd probably be a little resentful about it, too. 
But instead, I've taken the time to really understand the concept. I realize now, as I hope Tal can someday realize: white privilege isn't about me individually. It's not a personal attack. White privilege is a systemic cultural reality that I can either choose to ignore, or choose to acknowledge and attempt to change. It has nothing to do with my worth as a person or my own personal struggle. 
This is what I find so frustrating about Tal Fortgang's piece. He didn't take the time to learn what white privilege means, and instead railed against it in an essay that clearly shows his lack of grasp on the subject. And worse yet, Time magazine reprinted it. (No doubt they are basking in the glory of the pageviews on this one.) 
Here's what our fresh-faced Princeton undergrad gets wrong as he spends several paragraphs outlining the struggle of his own family:  the concept of white privilege does not deny individual hardships. Hardships can be circumstantial, they can be born into, they can be at our own doing, or they can be outside of our control. Some hardships, for some people, are related to race, and those who haven't experienced those particular race-related hardships hold white privilege. That doesn't negate the hardships others have faced because racial privilege refers only to issues of systemic racism. It doesn't mean that people haven't experienced difficulty. Nor do the hardships not related to race negate the very real discrimination some people have faced. (And ironically, as Tal outlines the discrimination his Jewish grandparents faced, he acknowledges the imbalance for them while glossing over it as a possibility for others.) 
There are many types of privilege: economic privilege, gender privilege, heterosexual privilege, and of course... racial privilege. "White privilege" is simply an interchangeable term for racial privilege, and refers only to race, not to other privileges a person may have been born into. This is what Tal Fortgang gets really wrong, because his essay assumes that white privilege refers to any kind of privilege. Not so. It's possible for people of other races to hold other kinds of privilege. They don't negate it either... we're not playing oppression olympics. When we ignore one form of privilege because another exists, we're being dismissive. 
Tal Fortgang is also incensed that he has been asked to "check his privilege" in conversations around these topics. And once again, he is railing against something he doesn't understand. The phrase "check your privilege" is typically invoked when someone is being woefully ignorant or insensitively dismissive of the oppression of minority groups.It's not because someone wants a white person to apologize for being white, or dismiss someone's opinion based on race. It's a way of reminding someone that they may not know or understand what they are talking about. It's a gentler way of saying, "You are kind of being a self-absorbed asshole and you should maybe learn more about the minority experience before you continue talking." And based on Tal's essay... yeah. I can see where he might have heard this phrase before. But here's how a privilege check usually works: 
If I suggested that black people were over-reacting about Trayvon Martin, I might be told to check my (racial) privilege. 
If I said that gay people should stop complaining about marriage rights because they are free to love each other and that's all they need, I might be told to check my (hetero) privilege. 
If I suggested that my kid's school should stop sending home paper assignments and just let the kids do their homework from their own iPads, I might be told to check my (economic) privilege. 
If I whine about the presence of handicapped parking spaces at a concert venue, I might be told to check my (ability) privilege.

Read more 

Howerton's piece was a detailed and well throughout response to a very young man who wears his perception of white privilege like a badge of courage or a medal of honor. She thoroughly dismantled Fortang's misconception while employing basic and logical examples to refute just about each flawed privilege brandishing point. The dismantling was accomplished without the need to explore privilege denied mission via the US Justice system. And there is no better example than the proliferation of killing of young black men and women with only scant examples of actual conviction when conviction were warranted.

Over the next few days, I am going to use the Ferguson Missouri Police officer killing of 18 year old Michael Brown to explore privilege and a serious miscarriage of Justice. 

As I move away from this piece, know that Bill O'Reilly knows white privilege and benefited from such privilege well before he was born. 

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