## "White privilege"

• 8.2k
To make “privilege” a property of a certain race is nonsensical , not to mention racist. Privilege and it’s opposites applies only to individuals, not races.

It is neither nonsensical nor racist. It's what it is. White people, in general, on average, have more money than black people, in general, on average.

PRIVILEGE is derived from ECONOMIC ADVANTAGE. IF blacks had not been so thoroughly and systematically economically disadvantaged since 1865, their present economic situation would be similar to whites, and we would not be fretting about "white privilege".

White people are not privileged by dint of a light skin color, per se, and black people are not dis-privileged by dint of a dark skin color, per se, any more than Asians or Jews are privileged to do well in school. People obtain advantages through historical processes. We know how wealth was accumulated among a very small proportion of Europeans, Indians, South Americans, and Asians. (I won't review the history here.). We know that there was a class system imported into North America from England which advantaged a small number of English upper class people and disadvantage a much larger number of English "waste" and "trash" who were poor. The upper class view of poor whites was one of disgust.

Black slaves were dehumanized, and once freed by the E. P. and the end of the Civill War, were systematically prevented from accumulating wealth. A substantial chunk of the white population were advantaged by various government programs, starting with the laws applying to the Northwest Territories (think Ohio or Indiana) which made land grants available. In various ways land grants were continued well into the 19th century across the plains to the Pacific. Many settlers obtained some wealth and some security, but thanks to the vicissitudes of agriculture, a lot of them went broke. Workers in urban areas were systematically screwed by capitalists.

The last very large effort to benefit whites was housing development begun in the Great Depression and running up to the 1970s. During these 40 to 50 years, the suburbs were hugely expanded with new, quality homes which were pretty much limited to white, middle class people. The long term appreciation of these houses, properties, and communities--complete with cultural amenities--formed the basis of economic advantage for several million people, and given inheritance and further capital accumulation, to quite a few million people.

Blacks were not allowed into the suburban housing game. Considerable expense was applied to new housing for blacks--communal, large-scale, rental housing. The initial intent and execution of the various housing projects was positive; but as everybody knows, renters do not accumulate equity, and the initial enthusiasm and support for public housing (by urban administrations) withered. Before long large scale deterioration set in, and in a surprisingly short period of time what had been good turned bad.

Three to five generations of people living in public housing, very cheap low quality privately owned rental housing, or section 8 has resulted in continued wide-spread poverty among blacks. Housing policy affects education attainment and health status, and this adds to the burdens of the poor black population. (Never mind the effects of drugs, alcohol, and the war on drugs.).

• 1.3k
Who are you to tell Teller what he feels or should feel or what is suitable for him to feel.

Did this mean to come across as aggressive as it did? Lol
I'm not telling him what to feel. I'm telling him what I think. Big difference.

Also, as you can see below, he acknowledged his gratitude.

Didn't read so far down to see this yet. But if he said that in the end then maybe my intuition on his choice of words wasn't that misplaced after all?
• 8.2k
@et al

I've changed my mind about paying reparations. I used to think it was inadvisable, impractical, unfair, and so forth. But now I think we should do it.

There are several ways that blacks can, over the long run, be compensated for the systematic discrimination practiced against them.

One way would be to fund a selective federal housing program for black people. The goal of this program would be black-owned, private, and quality-constructed homes. Grants could be made to assist with substantial down-payments, along with requirements for banks to extend loans based on non-discriminatory federal guidelines.

Another way would be to fund high-quality achievement-oriented K-12 schools and follow that with substantial-to-complete subsidies for college (linked to reasonably good academic performance). Since there is a limited need and aptitude for academic work, non-academic training should be covered by subsidies, but not operate preferentially (that is, don't arbitrarily steer black students into trades).

There are too many blacks in prison for non-violent drug offenses. They have quite broad rehabilitation needs, and programs for housing, education, mental and physical health care, and employment need to be ready and in place when they are discharged from prison.

Some level of cash grant to blacks who are too old, or not otherwise in a position to benefit from education or new housing programs, and are not in prison. Perhaps it could work like a lottery: taking the grant in payments over time would result in a larger payout than a single up-front payment.

This will, of course, cost quite a bit of money and take time. Scores of billions of dollars, I should think, paid out over time--50 years, maybe. We might have to reduce defense spending, raise taxes on the rich, or (preferably) both.

If black people deserve reparations, American Indians are even more in need. Cash, yes; benefit programs for education, economic development, health, housing, and so forth. But for American Indians I would recommend returning substantial portions of land -- territory. And let us not return land that is good for nothing--ruined, contaminated, never much good to begin with. Rather, return land that is still good. Where? scattered across the United States. Small, medium, and large tracts. large tracts of the Great Plains are already being gradually and voluntarily depopulated. Let's speed it up, and hand over some big tracts--fences, buildings, and infrastructure removed. Let the buffalo roam...

We owe Mexico a big chunk of the United States, but thanks to illegal immigration, they are gradually repopulating lost territory anyway.
• 2.1k

But male white privileged conservatives hate handouts, even to other white people, and they are the ones who run this country for the most part. I agree with you, though. The rich are the most entitled of all.
• 474
But for most I've met, although they may still go to Temple, many marry outside their religion; live, work, go to school, and have close friends among non-Jews; and consider themselves Americans and local community members.

Yes, they certainly exist. That is the kind that will assimilate, i.e. disappear in the night of history. They will not be around as a separate identity in 2000 years from now. Probably not even in 100 years from now.

African-Americans and other racial minorities were artificially kept separate through laws that forbade interracial marriage which were abrogated only in 1967. Distinct racial groups nowadays barely exist in countries like Brazil or Mexico. It got all mixed up over probably less than 200 years.

Jews also participate in interracial marriage, but they still manage to keep their separate identity afloat, even for 2000 years, because race is rather irrelevant in it. There is always a proportion of the Jewish community that assimilates and drops their separate identity, but the remainder carries on. African-Americans won't do that, because the only distinguishing feature in their community is some flimsy notion of race, which is no longer legally enforced either.
• 12.4k
Most of this sort of talk--"white privilege, " "male privilege," etc. seems to rest on unfalsifiable claims . . . when it even bothers to make any clear claims about anything that would be empirically establishable in the first place. So it's not at all scientific.

And papers like the Peggy McIntosh paper cited above are loaded with a bunch of subjective evaluative terms like "earned/unearned," "fair/unfair," etc. Those claims are not falsifiable because there are no facts regarding whether anything is earned or not, fair or not, and so on.
• 2.1k
There are correlations even if they are unfalsifiable in the strict scientific controlled experiment sense.
• 393

Granted we've got the okay to do some economic redistribution, If you or I listed the pros and cons of reparations and listed the same for economic redistribution without the racial element, you think the list for reparations would end up making it sound like the more practical and fair choice? Is there some other element?

You said you changed your mind, why is that?
• 12.4k

If the claim isn't falsifiable, there's no way to say that it's not merely a matter of the narrative that folks want to create, and nothing could possibly sway them from that narrative, even if it has no relation to reality.
• 2.1k

Sounds like someone’s defensive. Privileged much?
• 12.4k

Someone's just skeptical, especially of non-falsifiable claims.
• 8.2k
If I were arguing for an across the board redistribution of wealth (from the absurdly rich to the broad working class (which I am in favor of), then the question reparations to blacks would be considerably changed. They would at last be equalized with everyone else.

Americans have about $98 trillion in wealth. A substantial portion of that is controlled by the richest 1%, then the richest 2%, 3%, and 4%. 90% of the population controls a very small portion of the wealth, and in fact, has most of all the debt. Let's say we took$50 trillion from the rich and distributed it evenly to 350,000,000 Americans citizens. Each person would receive $142,857, regardless of race, sex, or age. There would be HUGE financial and economic problems resulting from such a sudden transfer of wealth, which is OK because it is merely hypothetical. It is inordinately unlikely to ever happen. BUT, nevertheless,$142,857 per person would accomplish reparation and would equalize wealth, for a period of time, anyway.

A Revolution would have to have happened in order to take \$50 trillion from the uber rich. I am assuming that business would not proceed as usual after the revolution. A revolution will probably be required to merely raise their taxes up to where they were, not so very long ago, at 90%.

You said you changed your mind, why is that?

I became increasingly obvious to me that the black population has been subjected to several rounds of disadvantageous policy, long after slavery ended, after the Jim Crow era ended. Disadvantaging blacks is in progress right now, through the usual means: housing policy, education policy, spending priorities, and so on. And in identifying blacks as being disadvantaged, I am not denying that whites, hispanics, American Indians, and asians are also being disadvantaged by the same methods.

For an unlikely but terrific sociology read, try EVICTED: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond‎. (available used, digital, libraries, or new) The book is about a black landlord in the slums of Milwaukee and a white owner of a run down house trailer park (also in Milwaukee). The renters in the slums are mostly black, and the renters in the trailer park are mostly white. Both landlords are making a lot of money off their poor tenants. The black landlord has something like 200 properties (all low quality) and the white landlord has something like 90? trailers, most falling apart. The formula is simple:

Charge as much as possible
Fix nothing (unless it is absolutely unavoidable, and maybe not even then)
Evict any tenant who misses payments and/or becomes too annoying

Renting to the poor in the slums happens to be quite profitable for the landlord. For the tenant, the chaos of their lives -- and the ruthlessness of the eviction policies, means repeated loss of money in furnishings, clothing, food, etc. Plus, the tenants are paying very high rents to live in what are, frequently, shit holes.

What goes in Milwaukee goes pretty much everywhere. There is limited public housing (which in many cities has largely been eliminated by blowing the buildings up), there are Section 8 vouchers (which do NOT provide luxurious apartments IF one can wait long enough to get a voucher, and there are a few grades of slum dwelling -- some of which might be OK, but most of which most people would refuse to live in if they had any choice in the matter. Outside of these alternatives for the poor, there is homelessness.
• 393

If your opinion changes when we have capital to redistribute then I don't get it, reparations will require capital to redistribute as well.

Your story is interesting but I still don't see any argument for why we should prioritise help/redistribution based on race. Reparations aren't even prioritising but selecting people for help based on their race. The only counterargument to this comes back to past injustices - which can't be undone and aren't a real factor now. People say they are a real factor only because they separate people based on race - if you don't do that, then what you've got is a lot of poor people - though for different reasons - dividing them by something practical like "where is help most urgently needed?" for instance is better than "this guy is black and that guy isn't, I mean come on.

We can talk all day about how economic redistribution might work and why it's necessary but it doesn't really explain the question of how you came to favour reparations over giving help based on need, ability to help and looking at how important the help being given is etc.
• 4.1k
past injustices - which can't be undone and aren't a real factor now. People say they are a real factor only because they separate people based on race - if you don't do that, then what you've got is a lot of poor people - though for different reasons - dividing them by something practical like "where is help most urgently needed?" for instance is better than "this guy is black and that guy isn't, I mean come on.

@Bitter Crank has said explicitly elsewhere that he considers class (i.e. money) more important than race. It is not true that "past injustices ... aren't a real factor now." I think I feel that race is a more important factor than BC does.

BC - sorry if I've put words in your mouth.
• 8.4k
The shame orientation is corrupted by a kind of empty disavowal ("Look at me, I'm ashamed of my privilege. Can you leave me alone to enjoy it now?") or maybe a fear of association with pride ("These white supremacy guys are disgusting, so I should be the opposite... White shame?") as if the negation of one requires an embrace of the other. Seems to me humility not shame is the proper orientation and the distinction is probably most pronounced in the amount of publicity required to validate it.
• 8.2k
Your story is interesting but I still don't see any argument for why we should prioritise help/redistribution based on race.

Whether we call it "reparations" or "redistribution" is not a critical question and neither are likely to happen.

The reason that I changed my mind about reparations based on race is that significant racial discrimination is clearly in force now, and has been in force for the last 50 years. (It has been in force much longer, of course, but let us concern ourselves with current discrimination.). We are concerned about institutional discrimination, not individual feelings.

Housing policy, education policy, social service policy, crime policy, illicit drug policy, prison policy, etc. have all been selectively disadvantageous to the black community. The disadvantages of the last 50 years have been built on the much longer term disadvantages of the black population.

Individual actions with respect to race play a relatively small part here. It is policy, not personal actions which are the big problem. The force of policy (like neglecting the maintenance of the large scale public housing buildings, which were a large capital investment, and which were assigned by policy to the black population, until the buildings were not fit to live in) was selectively disadvantageous to the black population. Eliminating "welfare as we know it" was selectively disadvantageous to the black population. It was of course disadvantageous to the white population too, but white people, in general, have fewer deliberate policies aimed at their suppression, at least based on race. The selective enforcement of laws prohibiting drug possession, use, and selling is disadvantageous to the black population, particularly the male population. Long prison terms for repeat offenders is an even worse policy burden.

The policies which are selectively disadvantageous could and should be changed, but even if they were changed today that would do nothing for the millions of wrecked lives which are the result of very bad policy.

Reparations are a way to aid individuals in repairing the damage. Repairing the damage done takes cash and much better policy.

I have said, and I still say CLASS IS MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN RACE. People who have been selectively disadvantaged and have ended up at the bottom of the class structure aren't going to get out of that location by their own efforts. This applies to whites, blacks, American Indians, asians, and anyone else who has been shafted down to the bottom.

So, again, whether we call it redistribution or reparations is unimportant. The CLASS STRUCTURE, and all the economic, social, and political policies which enforce it, are the problem. Just in case anyone forgot about it, the distribution of wealth and the power of classes has been severely skewed in the last 50, 60, 70, 80... years to favor a very small portion of the population at the disadvantage of a very large portion of the population (the 1% vs. 99%, or if you like, the 10% vs. the 90%).

It will take a literal revolution, an overthrow of the oligarchy, to enact either reparations or redistribution of wealth and a rewriting of the rules and regulations of American society. Do I expect this to happen? No, of course not. The oligarchy is riveted, bolted, and welded in place.

I can't explain myself any clearer.
• 581

Economic advantage and white privilege are different concepts. Any individual, regardless of race, can have economic advantage over another.
• 581

It is neither nonsensical nor racist. It's what it is. White people, in general, on average, have more money than black people, in general, on average.

If you grouped people by economic status you’d find individuals of a variety of races and ethnicities.

White privilege is not about wealth, but “an invisible knapsack” of privileges afforded to members of certain races. It’s invisible because, well, it doesn’t exist.
• 4.1k
If you grouped people by economic status you’d find individuals of a variety of races and ethnicities.

Of course, but I don't see how that changes anything I said.

White privilege is not about wealth, but “an invisible knapsack” of privileges afforded to members of certain races. It’s invisible because, well, it doesn’t exist.

As I've said, I'm coming around to the position that focusing on money rather than race will be the most effective way of helping people. As for white privilege, well, yes, it does exist.
• 393

Institutional discrimination and economic redistribution are two different things, two separate things. You are right that it doesn't seem that likely for either to happen anytime soon though. If you don't think it matters whether it's called reparations or redistribution then alright, I think it matters so that was my issue.

As you say, ultimately it will require a government that has similar ideals in economic redistribution before anything happens. I just hope it is not in the form of reparations, there is no point looking backwards nor in exacerbating racial tensions.
• 8.2k
As for white privilege, well, yes, it does exist.

There are many kinds of privilege which individuals, or collectivities, can do very little about, which is what makes privilege a-not-very-useful-concept. Like straight privilege. You are straight. You were born that way. You didn't do anything to earn or acquire it. It's there because most people in general, and most people with social, financial, and political power are straight, and such big majorities tend to arrange things in their favor. Why the hell wouldn't they?

There are age privileges--different ones for different ages. 3 year olds can get away with things that 30 year olds can't, like throwing tantrums. On the other hand, 3 year olds EDIT: can CAN NOT buy alcohol (legally, anyway). There are height, weight, fitness, and symmetry advantages. Tall, slim, nicely muscled men with attractive symmetrical bodies and faces have a beauty and height privilege. Tall men tend to do better in society. Short, fat, ugly men -- not so much. As the Duchess of Windsor said, "You can never be too rich or too thin."

There are geographical privileges. People who live in hot, arid sandy parts of the world will be increasingly disadvantaged compared to people who live in temperate, well-watered, and fertile parts of the world. People living in mountainous areas are attitudinally privileged over people who are going to get flooded out as the oceans rise.

White privilege in the US is like Han privilege in China. Whites and Han aren't the only people living in their respective countries, but they have been and are the majority and arranged things to their liking. Why wouldn't they? In Rwanda, the Hutu-Tutsi strife stems from class warfare, with the Tutsis perceived to have greater wealth and social status (as well as favoring cattle ranching over what is seen as the lower-class farming of the Hutus). Tutsi privilege.
• 8.2k
there is no point looking backwards nor in exacerbating racial tensions.

True enough. One of the points I have been trying to make (with not much success, apparently) is that you don't have to look backwards. In the present moment disadvantage is a matter of policy. You can look backward to see where the present disadvantageous policies came from, but the contemporary facts are clear.
• 4.1k
3 year olds can buy alcohol (legally, anyway).

I think you meant "can't." If not, you'll be getting a lot of visitors in Minnesota soon.

White privilege in the US is like Han privilege in China. Whites and Han aren't the only people living in their respective countries, but they have been and are the majority and arranged things to their liking.

Sure, but the position of blacks is different, at least in the US. The level of dislike and distrust felt for them is higher, and in most cases you can't hide that you're black. I can't speak for other countries and cultures.
• 581

Of course, but I don't see how that changes anything I said.

What I mean is, wealth should not be conflated with white privilege for the very reason that non-whites can be wealthy. They are two different concepts.

As I've said, I'm coming around to the position that focusing on money rather than race will be the most effective way of helping people. As for white privilege, well, yes, it does exist.

Focusing on race is the problem to begin with, and will always arrive at racist conclusions.
• 8.2k
Focusing on race is the problem to begin with, and will always arrive at racist conclusions.

Exactly.
• 1.5k

So if you decide to give out reparations or redistribution in some form to people based on race, how do you then (or now) define who's black / native indian enough? Or is you idea of making it without simply saying that it's race you are after. Well, then people won't think of it at all as reparations.

These kind of things lead to extremely bureaucratic 'racial' hierarchies, you know. A blossoming of racial purity, in a totally perverse and weird way.
• 1.5k
Focusing on race is the problem to begin with, and will always arrive at racist conclusions.
This is what I feel also, but I've given up on the whole debate around it being logical. And likely know that someone will attack my view.
• 393

I see what you're saying, honestly, I feel that you're just being slightly contradictory. You agree with NOS4A2 about focuses on race leading to racist outcomes but you're also in favour of reparations. We can't ignore instances of racism but the solution isn't to compensate an entire race of people. The problems that exist today like you mention and more are problems to be resolved for sure but seeing as many of those problems exist purely because of an overly racialised focus (in my view), I can't see a response that is racially focused as being the answer.

Just as the term white privilege is neither banal nor just a statement of fact but highlights a racialised perspective which makes matters worse. It's the same.

I think that it's kind of pointless to argue about this reparations thing when you seem to be more or less in agreement with the overall message of this post anyway so I'm going to leave it there.
• 8.2k
I should stick to just plain redistribution. Reparation is causing too much confusion in some quarters. Then it would apply to traits that are objectively ascertainable: what is your income now, what was your income in the past, type of work, assets, debt, etc. Individuals who make 250,000 a year now would not qualify; people who make 25,000 a year now, would.

True, "black" is not always a certain adjective. A woman who came from 100% Northern European stock got away with calling herself black, and even became head of her local NAACP. (This was a case of this out on the West Coast, somewhere.). She just decided that "being black" fit her personality better than being white. I guess. Conversely, there are blacks who can pass for whites. So... screw race.
• 8.2k
Let's all leave it there. I will have to settle for a revolution and redistribute the wealth to everybody. So, now hear this, now hear this: I will no longer use the term reparations.
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