I have engaged in conversation with a few people lately that propose that any person, regardless of race, can get rich in America so long as they work hard. That White Privilege is a perceptual concept and has no real academic merit as a socially observed truth.
To entertain the idea that white privilege is a concept and not a fact. Is just not true. Im not even sure where to begin to explain white privilege to a white person I would imagine it would be like trying to bite your own teeth. Ill start with the fact that it has been explored extensively at a clinical level and has been proven scientifically in not one not two but three separate social studies.
Opportunities for success are clearly not that simple, for a host of reasons: The myriad legacies of slavery and Jim Crow, decades of racist housing policies, educational disparities, employment discrimination, and a race-fueled War on Crime and Drugs.
Where you start in life financially matters a lot, too: If you're born in the poorest 20 percent of families of any race, yet still earn a college degree, you have roughly the same chance of being stuck in the poorest bracket as rich high-school dropouts do of staying in the richest bracket (16 and 14 percent, respectively).
Upward mobility is a much harder climb than it would seem. To deny that people of color face unequal opportunities in America due either to the legacy of past racism, the persistence of racism today, or some other set of structural barrier is to leave explanations for racial achievement gaps that are racist by definition. If black folks really do have equal opportunity and yet still don't achieve at levels equal to their white counterparts, then there must be something wrong with them as black people. Either genetically or culturally they must be inferior to whites. There is no other possible explanation.
No matter what the tune remains the same: the problem is them. If blacks were more like whites or Asians, biologically or culturally, they would do better in school and have better financial profiles. The problem isn’t a history of unequal opportunity, which gave some head starts and held others back, and it certainly isn’t discrimination in the present. It’s their genes, or perhaps their pathological community values, end of story.
Now as for the history of the american slave-holding culture, where people are born into a society where one sort of person is "naturally" a master, and another sort of person is "naturally" a slave (and sometimes not considered a person at all, but a beast of burden). In a culture like that, discrimination is built into the social, economic and political fabric, and individuals -- even "free" individuals -- don't really have a choice about whether they discriminate or not because even if they don't believe in slavery, they interact every day with slaves and the laws and rules that keep slaves bound.
So lets see out the past 400 years we have had a society, 200 years blacks spent in slavery and then another 100 years of oppression under Jim Crow, decades of racist housing policies, educational disparities, employment discrimination, and a race-fueled War on Drugs. Thats 300 out of 400+ years spent in full unconscious bias. Key word: unconscious. There is a undeniable legacy of this system perpetuated (and defined, really) by institutional structures in which one race (and in the U.S., whites) have advantages, privileges, head starts or other opportunities that are less available to members of other races. These structures include the labor market, housing market, educational system and justice system among others.
Basically, your white privilege makes it difficult to understand or acknowledge your white privilege. To explain: consider the most common conservative argument made when the subject of white privilege, racism and racial discrimination is raised. It typically sounds something like this:
“Racism is no longer capable of holding people of color back. Everyone has equal opportunity today. Yes, there are individual racists, but as a social force, racism is essentially dead.”
In and of itself there is no racism in this statement, and certainly not in the traditional sense: as overt manifestations of prejudice, contempt, even hatred based on racial difference. Indeed, conservatives would likely insist that if anything, this position is the ultimate non-racist or even antiracist argument, given its implicit confidence in the ability of persons of color to overcome obstacles.
By taking a positivist stance, one might claim or think that they were being far less racist than the latter of whom seem to suggest that racism is such an obstacle that even hard working black and brown folks are helpless in the face of it. To the right, it is this left position that reeks of racial condescension and assumptions of racial inferiority.
I dont think people are naive about their worldview I just think they are a victim of their own privileges and a lack of understanding of the meanings of the words Prejudice, Discrimination and Racism.
You see Prejudice is an irrational feeling of dislike for a person or group of persons, usually based on stereotype. Virtually everyone feels some sort of prejudice, whether it’s for an ethnic group, or for a religious group, or for a type of person like blondes or fat people or tall people. The important thing is they just don’t like them — in short, prejudice is a feeling, a belief. You can be prejudiced, but still be a fair person if you’re careful not to act on your irrational dislike.
Discrimination takes place the moment a person acts on prejudice. This describes those moments when one individual decides not to give another individual a job because of, say, their race or their religious orientation. Or even because of their looks (there’s a lot of hiring discrimination against “unattractive” women, for example). You can discriminate, individually, against any person or group, if you’re in a position of power over the person you want to discriminate against. White people can discriminate against black people, and black people can discriminate against white people if, for example, one is the interviewer and the other is the person being interviewed.
Racism, however, describes patterns of discrimination that are institutionalized as “normal” throughout an entire culture. It’s based on an ideological belief that one “race” is somehow better than another “race”. It’s not one person discriminating at this point, but a whole population operating in a social structure that actually makes it difficult for a person not to discriminate. Because of the institutional and cultural aspects Racism can only trickle down from the majority race in a given culture.
Now thats all I have to say about that.