White Privilege is a theory that people have a major advantage in the United States, and arguably in many other locations, over anyone else who is not white. The main basis is that white people tend to have things easier – Jobs come easier, college and other forms of education, and even laws are applied to white people differently than anyone else – especially African Americans. Bringing this concept up to practically any white person, especially a male, and the response is typically “I sure don’t feel privileged!” – and chances are that they don’t – this isn’t simply a snarky response. So what is the issue then? Why don’t don’t white people feel privileged?
White Privilege isn’t really something that white people would actively feel, in fact it is really the opposite that is in effect – a weird paradox if you will. White Privilege stems from the concept that you are simply treated as closely to being an actual person than not over others races who are treated as less valuable – aka underprivileged. What does that mean? A white person can go into a corner store, practically anywhere, and nobody will even look in their direction. “Just a white dude.” As such, said white guy can go about his merry business of being a consumer without being harassed in any fashion. This ability to be virtually invisible surely does not feel like a privilege until one considers the opposite – a black man walking into that same corner store. In that instance, same possibility of purchasing something, money works the same, clothing could be the same, yet something different transpires. The black man is looked at with suspicion for having done absolutely nothing wrong. He is underprivileged, which in turn means that the white man is privileged – again for having done nothing right nor wrong in either direction.
All of this happens to be based on the basic concept of socialized perception. In the stated instance the black man is being pre-judged based on what society, on some level, has programmed those around him to think: black males are dangerous. Isn’t that very concept – the predilection that white people are safer than black people to be around, the foundation for racism, and as such, also for White Privilege? Haven’t we set the black male up for failure simply by having this predisposition of his potential failure in place. “You will fail. If you don’t fail, we will tell you that you will fail again. And Again. And again. People will watch you under a microscope, and after enough time, with enough applied pressure, chances are you will fail, and then we can all say ‘SEE!? We knew you would fail, Black Man!'”
What an atrocity.
Now let us consider a particular case of White Privilege: Samuel Curtis “S. C.” Johnson III, the 59-year-old billionaire heir to the S. C. Johnson & Sons, raped a 12 year old girl. Simple set of facts here: Samuel is super wealthy. Samuel raped a 12 year old girl. Samuel is a white man. Samuel also just got sentenced to only FOUR MONTHS in prison for the confirmed rape of his 12 year old step-daughter. Ponder that for a moment. It isn’t just that he raped a 12 year old girl, it was also his step daughter, someone he should be expected to protect! Not Samuel, though. Samuel instead opted to use his financial power, and position as the girl’s stepfather, to exact rape onto her – and he basically got away with it. One could argue that four months in prison for a billionaire is a big deal – which is a bullshit statement – after all he could get out in 60 days on good behavior. Ponder that crap for a moment.
Now let us apply a similar situation to basically any black male in the United States of America. Let us pretend that Barry, a black male, works for minimum wage, rapes his step daughter. Barry will get tried, if he isn’t first killed being apprehended, and convicted and will be sentenced to, at the least, 8 years in prison (the statistics imply that it will be more like 12-20 years), and his life will basically be over. Deserved? Yes! Rape is one of the most heinous crimes one person can do to another, especially to a child. The argument here is not whether Barry should or should not go to prison for what he did being right or wrong – the argument here is why does Barry go to prison for the proper allotted amount of time for that crime whereas Samuel does not.
The answer presented to the public is simple: Affluenza. The argument is that Samuel is a super important person, and his family does lots of stuff for the community, as such, Samuel should not go to prison for very long as doing so would stifle his ability to “help the community” – you know, by maybe raping yet another child, one probably under his care. The argument here is ridiculous to the extreme, and really is the sort of argument that lead to events like The French Revolution. Privileged powerful people taking advantage of position and power to the extreme, over and over again, until the poor, crushed, disheartened, and rage filled masses take matters into their own hands and destroy the privileged few. I digress.
The fact of the matter is there is a pretty good chance that had we replaced Samuel with another white male, we’ll call him Chester, that Chester may have gone to prison for the same amount of time as Barry. Statistically, however, that typically isn’t the case. In fact, that white privilege thing kicks in, yet again, and as such Chester would have received a lesser sentence than Barry – for the exact same crime. Chester may not know, or at least feel, that his white privilege saved him YEARS of prison time, but the fact remains that it would have. You know who would probably have known the difference? The black male who received a longer sentence – something he has grown to expect because he lacks white privilege. So you see, if you are white, you may not feel privileged, but you should be aware of the fact that you are – simply because you are treated by most people to not be a threat of any kind – whereas basically everyone else is – and that, my friends, is what we call inequality.