Thoughts on White Privilege
Some Fundamental Points on the Problem with the Concept "White Privilege".

Douglas P. McManaman
March 17, 2019
Reproduced with Permission

There is such a thing as "privilege"; however, privilege has no color. For example, many of you (my students) enjoy privilege, but not insofar as you are "brown", or "black", or "Asian", or "Hispanic", etc. I am thinking of Juan Carlo, a young Hispanic boy who attended a nearby public school and went on to university and is now working as an anesthesiologist for a major hospital in Canada. Juan is Hispanic, but he is also privileged; his privilege has nothing to do with his being Hispanic, but has everything to do with the fact that he comes from a family with two devoted parents who raised him well, loved him, worked hard for him and his siblings, went through various struggles for their sake, etc. Juan Carlo does not "know" the struggles his parents went through - at least, not through personal experience, but only through "hearsay". Juan is also the beneficiary of the sacrifices of countless people who have gone before him, i.e., those who fought and died in both world wars, those who worked to make this country to be what it is, etc. How do we know Juan Carlo is privileged? He said it himself, that he is very fortunate, that he did not earn the advantages he now enjoys.

Now, what is true for Juan Carlo is also true for Theo, who is black, who also has two devoted parents who worked hard to care for him and provide him with all he needs to be successful in life. He's now finishing university and is engaged to a Muslim girl. That he enjoys great privilege has nothing to do with his color, but everything to do with certain people in his life, i.e., his parents, and the civil community as a whole.

Jeff, on the other hand, is not so privileged. He is white, and he was raised in a small Northern Ontario town 4 hours north of the City of Toronto, and he comes from a broken home. His mother and father divorced early on. His father is an alcoholic who would verbally denigrate Jeff's mother regularly when Jeff would come to visit him as a young boy. His mother too would verbally denigrate Jeff's father when he (Jeff) was staying with her. Jeff's mother had a different boyfriend every few months, and so Jeff went to live with his father, who was unemployed and would continue to denigrate his mother regularly. Jeff was a teenage alcoholic and drug user and he had lots of anger issues. He eventually got a criminal record and spent time in prison for vehicular homicide.

Jeff made choices that he is responsible for, however, he did not choose the situation he found himself in as a young boy. Juan Carlo and Theo enjoy far greater advantage (privilege), and they are not white. White privilege is an abstraction, whereas the above scenarios are not abstractions but real concrete cases.

Is there such a thing as racism? Of course there is, but racism is not an abstraction; it is not the same as white privilege. Moreover, racial profiling is not necessarily racism, although it often appears to be. Often it is simply a matter of statistical probabilities. For example, the list of seven countries that Obama created (and Trump inherited) for a travel ban - until proper vetting can take place - , was not racist or anti-Muslim. The seven countries were Venezuela, Syria, North Korea, Libya, Iran, Yemen, and Somalia. Venezuela is not a Muslim country, neither is North Korea, and many Muslim countries were not included in the ban (i.e., Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, etc.). However, giving a ticket to a black man for a traffic offense, but letting off a white kid for the very same offense, is an injustice, a racist double standard. But racism that is limited to a specific district of a predominantly white country does not justify the creation of a new category with specific properties that automatically apply to every individual within that category (i.e., white privilege and the collective guilt that follows). This is the logical fallacy of part and whole (attributing to the whole what belongs only to a part, or vice versa).

And perhaps there is such a thing as systemic racism. Various countries are systemically racist with regard to certain cultural groups. I have been told that Egypt is one of those countries (Coptics will not advance very far on the socio-economic ladder). If one is a Shiite Muslim in a predominantly Sunni population, one might experience systemic discrimination and find rising to certain positions in government or society all but impossible, and vice versa - it is not entirely inconceivable. Systemic racism comes in all shapes and colors.

Is there systemic racism in the United States? If there is, the evidence would show it. And so we can ask some basic questions. Have Americans ever had a black president? Can a black man or woman become a Supreme Court Justice? The answer to both of these is a resounding yes (i.e., Clarence Thomas and Barack Obama). Are there circuit court judges who are black? Are there black CEOs? Black members of Congress? Indeed, there are. Are there black police chiefs? Black university professors? Indeed, two of the most brilliant economists and political pundits in the U.S. are black (i.e., Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams). Is it possible for a black person to sign a multi-million dollar contract for services rendered for a relatively short period of time? Black NBA and NFL players do so regularly. So, is racism systemic in the U.S? Not at all - if so, that would make systemic racism a strange phenomenon indeed.

Are there individual racists who judge people on the basis of their skin color (culture, etc.)? Yes, there are and always have been. Are white people privileged by virtue of the fact that they are white? If that were the case, Donald Trump never would have been elected; for those most adversely affected by the globalist trend that decimated the American Midwest were white people.

The concept "white privilege" is just that, a concept, an abstraction. It is a general category, and it is a concept rooted in Marxism. Now Marxism is a political ideology. What this means is that it is a paradigm, a conceptual framework, a narrative in which certain pieces of data are filtered in order to provide a coherent worldview. A paradigm is a model of reality. The problem with models, as any scientist knows, is that reality always seems to exceed the model, as new data eventually shows. In other words, models are simplifications, but reality is highly complex.

Karl Marx saw history within a certain paradigm, or conceptual framework: he interpreted all of history as a dialectic, a struggle between the proletariat (working class) and the bourgeoisie (owners of the means of production). History did not pan out as Marx predicted it would, but habits are hard to break, even intellectual or cognitive habits. So, Marxists shifted this dialectical struggle from the economic level to the cultural level - hence, cultural Marxism, and critical whiteness theory is an aspect of cultural Marxism. The cultural Marxist continues to interpret all of reality as a struggle between the oppressor and the oppressed - that's the cultural Marxist narrative. The oppressed are minorities, and the oppressor are the majority group. So, if the majority of the population is white, then the class of white people are automatically the oppressors, and minorities are the oppressed (black, Asian, Hispanic, etc.). If the majority religion is Christian, then Christian as a category is the oppressor, the minority religions are the oppressed (i.e., Muslims). So Christian, white, American, male, European descent, etc., constitute the identity of the oppressor class, while Muslim, black, brown, women, immigrants, etc., are identities that constitute the oppressed class - regardless of the fact that Muslims and Asians do not see themselves as oppressed.

Now the difference between a paradigmatic thinker and an evidence-based thinker is that the evidence-based thinker follows the evidence and draws conclusions strictly on the basis of that evidence. Good scientists are evidence-based thinkers. Paradigmatic thinkers, on the other hand, follow a narrative and pay attention to evidence that confirms the paradigm, or the narrative, the conceptual framework, etc. What happens in this case is that evidence that appears to confirm the paradigm is noticed, while evidence that disconfirms the paradigm is ignored. For example, when a white cop shoots a black man, that is taken as evidence for the paradigm (white = oppressor; black = oppressed). But when evidence is brought forth that disconfirms the paradigm, it is conveniently ignored. For example, out of the total number of homicides in 2015, 52% of the victims were black, and over 90% of those involved a perpetrator who was black. In that same year, 50% of those shot and killed by police were white, 26% were black, and 17% were Hispanic. According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, the chances of a black suspect being killed by a black police officer are significantly higher than a black suspect's being killed by a white officer. Such evidence does not fit the ideological narrative of the cultural Marxist, which is why we never hear these statistics mentioned in mainstream media. Other evidence that disconfirms the narrative are the students at Father Michael McGivney CA, who for the most part are not white, but who enjoy tremendous advantage, much more than many white people living elsewhere in Ontario. Our last two principals were black, very bright, very competent, living better than a significant percentage of white people in Ontario. The vast majority of the students of this school are far more privileged than I was when I was a teenager (white).

Philosophy is about thinking on the basis of principles, not ideological frameworks or paradigms. Keep in mind that for the postmodernist, there is no "truth per se", and all knowledge is a construct. In other words, all knowledge is narrative construction. Narratives help make sense out of this world, which is why they are attractive. But narratives that make sense are not necessarily true to reality.

Always look at the evidence and pay close attention to evidence that disconfirms an ideological narrative like cultural Marxism. To look at an individual person and to relegate that person to the level of a category or cultural identity, such as "white", and to then proceed to treat that person according to that category (collective guilt), is precisely what is meant by "racism". The concept of white privilege is nothing more than good ole fashioned racism under a new and more sophisticated, politically acceptable garb.