Discuss the idea of "white privilege." In your opinion, are there benefits that accrue to Whites based on their skin color? If so, discuss at least one of them and describe the effect of this. If...

Discuss the idea of "white privilege." In your opinion, are there benefits that accrue to Whites based on their skin color? If so, discuss at least one of them and describe the effect of this. If not, justify your opinion.

 

Asked on by blopez994

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Any discussion of the idea of white privilege is necessarily conditioned by the life experiences of the person discussing the idea.  Therefore, it is necessary to know something about the people in the discussion.  My own background is that my father is a Filipino immigrant and my mother is white.  I look much more like my father than like my mother.  That is, no one thinks of me as a white person.

From my perspective, white privilege does exist to some degree.  Much of that privilege may be in the heads of the people who benefit from it or are hurt by it, but that does not change the degree to which it exists.  Let us look at two examples of white privilege.  First, there is the whole idea of racial profiling.  White people do not have to worry about being stopped by the police for “driving while white” whereas people of color might.  If a white person is stopped by the police, they do not have to wonder whether they are being targeted because of their color.  The same goes for programs like the New York City “stop and frisk” police program that seems to have targeted African Americans disproportionately.  Having white skin allows a person not to have to worry about these things happening to them.  Second, there is the privilege of not having negative racial stereotypes applied to you (unless you are trying to become a professional athlete or someone in another area that is dominated by non-whites).  Studies have shown that stereotypes have a negative effect on the self-image of the people who suffer from them and that those stereotypes can affect people’s performance.  White people do not typically have to deal with the consequences of being stereotyped as stupid or as lazy.  This, too, is a privilege.

For these reasons, I do believe that there are benefits that come to white people from having white skin in our society.  That is not to say that white people have everything come easy for them.  It is just to say that there are problems that non-whites have to deal with that whites do not.  Those problems are serious enough to make me argue that there is such a thing as white privilege.

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