Thursday, July 16, 2020

Checking White Privilege

We are hearing a lot about white privilege these days.

We also hear that those who are white need to learn to check their privilege.

If you are white, there is nothing you can do about the color of your skin. The same holds true whether the pigment of your skin is black, brown or another shade.

It seems that some are now attempting to describe aspects of "whiteness" or "white culture" that need to be looked at critically because certain beliefs and customs are supposedly making nonwhite persons feel abnormal or inferior.

The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African-American History and Culture recently posted a guide to “Whiteness” and "White Culture" in the United States on its website that seemed to be intended to indicate those behaviors that might need to be modified to keep white privilege in check.

As you read this bear in mind that your tax dollars paid for this. This museum was opened in 2016 during the Obama administration and cost $500 billion of which half was funded by the federal government. 70% if the annual operating costs of the Smithsonian are funded by Congress.

You might also ask if you have ever read anything more racist in your entire life.?

What is so repugnant and racist in this list is that it seems to suggest that these are not valuable human traits but are only aspects of white culture that are not shared, appreciated and have proven important to the success of the human race generally.

There is little question that all of these have been foundational pillars of what has made the United States of America the greatest country in the world today. 

I would humbly suggest that we need a lot more of everything on this list by a lot more people of all races considering what we see around us right now.

That includes a whole lot of white people who apparently who have never understood that these were supposed to be a part of "their" culture.

Here is a partial list of those supposed "whiteness" traits.

Self Reliance


The nuclear family

Children should be independent

Emphasis on the scientific method

Cause and effect relationships

Objective, rational linear thinking

Be polite

Hard work is the key to success

Work before play

Respect authority

Plan for the future

Delayed gratification

"Tomorrow will be better"

Property and entitlements deserve protection in the justice system

Be on time and value your time

If you attempt to go to the Smithsonian website link above you will no longer find these graphics. You can also see a copy here as written about in Powerline.

They have been taken down in the last 24 hours after many raised the same questions I have in this blog post.

Interestingly, the infographics above seem to have been adapted from the work of Judith Katz who works for a consulting firm that does diversity training for corporations and others.

Credit: The Kaleel Jamison Consulting Group

Katz wrote this book in 1978 on how to do anti-racism training.

Does anyone else find it interesting that this woman wrote a book on anti-racism training 42 years ago?

She has also been accepting consulting fees from various corporations for decades on diversity and anti-racism training.

How is it then that we are told that racism is as prevalent as ever and we have institutional and systemic racism that makes it impossible for minorities to succeed in the United States?

What has her work accomplished? 

It could be argued that lists like those above are more about creating divisions among us rather than focusing on those things that should unite us.

For example, if you take the list above I would argue that it is probably more indicative of Asian American traits than whites in this country.

Self-reliant. Strong families. Polite. Punctual. Work before play. Respect authority. Plan for the future.

These are universal traits of successful people that has nothing to do with race, color or creed.

That may be one of the reasons that those of Chinese, Indian and Japanese descent outperform whites by large margins in income, education outcomes, test scores and incarceration rates.

For example, the median household income for white Americans was $67,865 in 2016 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Compare that to the median household income for other ethnic ancestry groups in the United States.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey and Wikipedia

Rav Arora, the son of Indian immigrants recently wrote an opinion piece in the New York Post titled "The fallacy of white privilege and how its corroding society". 

He points out that all of the minorities above have had to endure different forms of discrimination but they have not let it hold them back.

This includes immigrants from predominantly black countries.
Interestingly, several black immigrant groups such as Nigerians, Barbadians, Ghanaians and Trinidadians & Tobagonians have a median household income well above the American average. Ghanian Americans, to take one example, earn more than several specific white groups such as Dutch Americans, French Americans, Polish Americans, British Americans and Russian Americans. Do Ghanaians have some kind of sub-Saharan African privilege?
Nigerian Americans, meanwhile, are one of the most educated groups in America, as one Rice University survey indicates. Though they make up less than 1 percent of the black population in America, nearly 25 percent of the black student body at Harvard Business School in 2013 consisted of Nigerians. In post-bachelor education, 61 percent of Nigerian Americans over the age of 25 hold a graduate degree compared to only 32 percent for the US-born population.

Take another look at the list of traits above.

I would suggest that teaching those principles in America's schools would do more to put ALL children on the path to success than spending billions of dollars on diversity training and telling people to check their white privilege.

I can't think of anything that is more injurious, debasing or racist than to suggest to any minority that they need not concern themselves with being a hard worker, being polite, respecting authority, valuing time and believing that tomorrow will be better because those are "white" traits.

You wonder why we are where we are today?

Look no further than this type of "thinking" and "teaching".

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