I try out an analogy to explain White Privilege

Let's say I live in Alaska, and the state government makes a lot of money from oil revenues. Let's also say that the State Government decides to cut checks to residents rather than increasing services. (So far, I think this happened.)

Let's say that the State Government, for the sake of my analogy, only cut checks to White residents.

I'm White. My check comes from the State in the mail. I was not involved in the decision to cut checks only to White residents. I cash my check.

Am I racist?

Reality isn't usually quite this cut and dried because even if the powers that be want to exercise that sort of racism they conceal it a little better than that, like by instituting policies that apply to populations not defined by race that happen to be overwhelmingly Black. In the old days this was done via legislation like the Grandfather Clause. Now it's done by disenfranchising voters. Like convicted felons. Arrest Black people out of proportion, charge out of proportion (like misdemeanor vs. felony), convict out of proportion, and voila! disenfranchised Blacks without saying that you did. Or Voter ID laws, same deal.

Or like happens in Ferguson, MO. Taxes are cut, so in order to keep the municipality afloat, police arrest poor people on trumped up charges involving exorbitant fines that compound because of typical ways poor people can't pay their original fines (like not being able to go to work because they have to watch their kids), and of course they can't afford representation, so they're vulnerable to this. And the poor people in these communities just so happen to be disproportionately minority. As Ron points out, streetlights in middle class White neighborhoods get paid for by this revenue stream.

Let's say I live in one of these overwhelmingly White neighborhoods and my kids are safer because of the streetlights. Am I racist?

What am I supposed to do, dress my kids in ninja outfits at night so they have a better chance of being hit by a car, thereby not taking advantage of the streetlights? Move out of the neighborhood even though living in this neighborhood is what enables me to work where I work and support my kids?

Though I have no interest in profiting from racism and I am not profiting from it intentionally, I am profiting from it. Does that make me part of the problem?

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Comment by Ron Powell on July 23, 2017 at 12:19pm

When a municipality uses revenue raised from traffic fines etc to fund municipal services, and blacks are given a hugely disproportionate and inordinate number of tickets and slapped with exhorbitant fines in order to pave the streets in white neighborhoods, or put up street lamps on white street corners, or buy new books for the white kiids ' schools etc, etc, etc...

That amounts to receiving a 'check' from the government at the 'expense' of black people...

That is no hypothetical but fact and reality.

AIt's a practice that is presently in place in a variety of locations (Ferguson, MO was caught at it big time.) where the white people are aware that they benefit from it and have absolutely no objection...

Even while they deny the existence of the parasitic relationship..

Comment by JMac1949 Today on July 23, 2017 at 12:28pm

"You are either part of the solution or part of the problem."  Eldridge Cleaver

Comment by koshersalaami on July 23, 2017 at 12:36pm

Terry, I'm not trying to justice to racism, I'm trying to do justice to White privilege, having gotten in plenty of arguments with people who do not get it. 

Please, give it a shot. I don't mean I'm looking to tear down whatever you say, I'm serious. Give me something I can use in conversations. 


The indicator as far as I'm concerned is no objection and denying existence when shown that existence.


My question about being part of the problem was a reference to that quote, though I'd forgotten who said it.

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on July 23, 2017 at 12:36pm

Sure it's racism if/when the white recipient(s) of the benefit(s) say(s) nothing  organised consistently and loudly to the illegitimate authority responsible for the harm to black people and if those receiving the benefit(s) do not spend a consistently good deal of time partnering w victime of the practice(s) raising up the injustice(s) to the wider community.

Comment by JMac1949 Today on July 23, 2017 at 12:36pm

...or as Hillel the Elder answered when challenged to explain the Torah while standing on one foot, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn."

Comment by koshersalaami on July 23, 2017 at 12:47pm

Translated a little differently than I've heard it translated but my favorite quote in the world. 


That's basically my answer. It's racist if you do nothing to counter it. 

Comment by Boanerges on July 23, 2017 at 1:37pm

Yes, I suppose it does, in a way. But there ARE things that can be done. If I can broaden the scope a bit, Red now qualifies for the Old Age Pension here. She refuses to apply for it. Why? We don't need it, so let that money go to people who do, is her answer. It's a principled stand, and one which I applaud.

Comment by Ron Powell on July 23, 2017 at 1:44pm

And what of the situation when the black victims of the practice make complaints sufficient enough to raise the level of awareness within the community and nothing is done....until the Feds and the media show up.

Would it not be correctly said that the whole of the white population is racist if they all could be charged with having knowledge of the harmful practice?

Comment by koshersalaami on July 23, 2017 at 2:16pm

Not if there was an unsuccessful local White opposition. Most candidates are not elected with a unanimous White vote. 

Comment by Ron Powell on July 23, 2017 at 3:13pm

Nor is oppositumion predicatwd on stands against racism...


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