White Privilege Response: a real matter not “figment of imagination”
Jene Thomas – News Editor
Race is such a controversial talking point because everyone is going to have a different perspective on it. While some claim racism is over and done with, others will argue the complete opposite.
Some will argue white privilege is a form of institutionalized racism, because the very building blocks for which society was created was formed by people who did not believe that every person deserved equal human rights, such as working, voting or entering certain establishments. While white privilege may not be something that everyone is familiar with or has witnessed first hand, it does not give people the right to completely dismiss it and lump it with fictional ideals or myths.
People can admit that white privilege exists without experiencing it.
“I’m very white, so I wouldn’t be able to give a perspective from someone who is not white, so I feel like I wouldn’t know otherwise but as far as I see, I haven’t seen anything that’s been directly racist,” said Mary Spodnick, an undeclared freshman.
She said that despite her living in a “very nice” suburban area, she has never really experienced racism but white privilege exists, to an extent.
“I think it’s a thing in terms of interactions with the police,” she said.
Sammy Maximin, a senior business-finance major that identifies as black, held no restraint when giving his interpretation of white privilege.
“White privilege means you’re not faced with the same adversities as African Americans, like you don’t have the same concerns African Americans would have,” said Maximin. “Like when a black kid gets stopped by a cop in a car, he’s taught—his parents tell him—‘okay make sure you don’t talk too much, make sure your hand’s on the steering wheel, whatever he says you do.’ White privilege means [white people] don’t have those conversations or dialogs.”
Both Spodnick and Maximin used the police as examples of how white privilege exists. An argument to support the existence of white privilege lies within the following colloquial phrase “driving while black.” Simply Google the phrase to find testimonies of black Americans who share their stories of police interactions and then Google “driving while white” and compare.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, black drivers were more likely to get pulled over in 2011 than white or Hispanic drivers. However, the argument for white privilege extends farther than police interactions.
A lot of emphasis has been put on black people as the only “victims” of white privilege, and although that is not the case, some like Maximin believe it’s worse for some than it is for other ethnic groups.
“They face the same adversity but I don’t think it’s to the extent of African Americans,” he said.
“I think white privilege is an actual thing because subconsciously, I think white people get more privileges that colored people don’t,” said Brad Migliaro, a freshman studio art major that identifies as white. “Even just economic situations, I mean I’ve seen statistics where white people get paid more than the average African American does. I don’t know why but it’s a thing.”
While it is not necessarily proven that white people are paid more than other races, statistics show that it is harder for certain minority groups to attain wealth than others. According to 2014 data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, posted in the Huffington Post, 58 percent of white children who come from poor households end up receiving salaries that put them in the top income brackets, whereas only 22 percent of black children from low-income households will see that same result when they grow up.
Sarah Pival, a black pre-nursing student, said she thought white privilege existed because white people are afforded more opportunities than others.
“They’re just looked at as more safe or better or higher class,” said Pival “It’s easier from them to build connections also because they’re white.”
It’s not just a black and white issue. People may not come to the same consensus regarding white privilege but the testimonies of those who experience should be enough to take a second look at the matter, rather than classifying it a figment of the imagination.
Photo Credit: Light Brigading