We have been hearing a lot about white privilege, even before the current protests. It refers to the rights, opportunities, resources and good treatment that white people get that racial minorities too often don’t get.
And technically it’s true. Plenty of information is available to show that racial minorities are often short-changed in many ways.
But using the term “privilege” to describe the different treatment is misleading, because “privilege” has a negative connotation. It carries the idea that white people shouldn’t actually receive these rights, opportunities, resources and good treatment as long as African Americans, for instance, don’t receive them. That has the problem backward. It’s not that white people have them, but that racial minorities don’t have them, at least not fully.
You might think that is splitting semantic hairs, but the negative connotation of “privilege” is usually intended to make white people feel guilty about their good situation. And when somebody tries to make you feel guilty about something, it’s a pretty safe assumption they are trying to manipulate you. When you hear the extreme demands of many of the left, such as abolishing the police, it should be obvious they are trying to use "white guilt” to reduce opposition.
I am a lot more motivated by appeals to compassion to support reasonable measures to help African Americans, such as more tutors for students and deescalation training for police. I get more cynical when subjected to manipulation.
Wayne Shockley, Brooklyn
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