The concept of “white privilege” essentially is taken as gospel on American college campuses. There are workshops about it, classes on it, and the concept has been woven into just about any discipline you can think of.
Belief in white privilege actually “isn’t nearly as pernicious as conservatives tend to believe,” according to The Weekly Standard’s David Marcus. “There is real value in considering the fact that people might treat you with more respect and dignity based on your skin color,” he says.
However, it is only with regards to race that people are required to acknowledge their “unearned advantages,” Marcus adds. Not to mention, the proposed and promulgated remedies for white privilege are found wanting.
California State University, Chico’s Rachael Bayuk probably won’t be persuaded by Marcus’s points, even granting his concession that white privilege is a real thing. Writing in The Orion, she demands that you, as a white person, “stop bringing up how hard you had it as a kid, stop saying you were poor, [and] stop naming every bad thing that has ever happened to you in defense of yourself.”
As penance for history, white people “damn well better let people who’s [sic] voices have been drowned out speak,” which means (in part) butting out of conversations they shouldn’t be part of. Example: Whites don’t get a say in what is offensive to non-whites.
“Who the f*ck are we to tell them what isn’t offensive,” she asks, referencing the Washington Redskins team name.
White women (or, should that be “female-identifying”?) also aren’t permitted to wear hair braids, according to Bayuk. “Think about how privileged this sounds,” she says. A white girl appropriating this look would get compliments, while a black girl so coiffed would be considered “ghetto.”
Seems to me Bayuk is making use of her white privilege in making such a statement.
We don’t get to pick and choose what’s okay and what isn’t. That’s what colonialism has been doing for centuries－picking and choosing all the parts white, dominant culture likes and discarding the rest. Well, we should stick to box tea and lederhosen and stop injecting ourselves into places we don’t belong.
Our society has adopted celebrations from Mexican culture only to gentrify them. We mash them up beyond recognition until all they become are excuses to drink and wear “funny” (racist) costumes. There is not a single thing funny about racism. The systematic oppression and crude depictions of people of color is unacceptable.
We can’t allow it anymore. If you’re staying quiet, you’re compliant in this system. If you just “don’t care for politics,” you are part of the problem. People’s livelihoods are based around political decisions. Stop and think about how privileged you are to be able to turn off the TV and forget about the communities plagued by systematic violence.
White people’s voices “have rung through these mountains for far too long,” Bayuk says. It’s time to hold the metaphorical “megaphone” for those who’ve been silenced.
IMAGE: Mike Licht / Flickr.com