There is a new meme going about mis-using the term “white privilege” (and its cousin “male privilege”) to describe why white males ‘have it better’ than non-whites and non-males. (To be clear, I am not disputing that in the US in 2014, the average white has it better than the average black for a variety of historical reasons. I am also not disputing sexism exists. Lots of other types of discrimination exist as well.)
In general application, the “privilege meme” frames it wrong. The things that whites do that blacks get arrested and tasered for (such as sitting in public spaces in skyways) are not white privilege. They are civil rights violations. Everyone has the right to not be arrested in such circumstances. It is not a privilege not to be arrested for not breaking any laws.
It is a privilege to drive your car on a public roadway. You earn this privilege by passing exams, and being able to buy a car, and not violating any motor vehicle laws subsequently.
It is a right to walk. I don’t need a license to do so.
It is a right to board a bus and sit wherever you want.
It is a privilege to serve your country in public office. You earn this in an election.
It is a right to vote in an election.
It is a privilege to afford an expensive high-powered lawyer. You “earned” this by either earning or inheriting money.
It is a right not to be harassed, assaulted, or raped, or murdered.
It is a right to have an attorney provided for you, if you commit a crime such as harassment, assault, rape, or murder.
It is not a privilege to commit a crime such as harassment, assault, rape, or murder.
It is a privilege to be immune from punishment for a crime such as harassment, assault, rape, or murder. You probably didn’t earn this.
3 thoughts on “Privilege or Right”
White privilege isn’t the same thing as a violation of one’s civil rights. By conflating the two, you are trying to define the phenomenon asay.
You’re only looking at one option, the one where the person, black or white, isn’t actually doing something wrong.
In the other case, when some crime actually has been committed, the person who *doesn’t* get arrested *is* privileged. Since this is almost always the white guy, not the black guy, that escapes arrest, then that white guy is privileged.
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