White People

I love to break it to all the white supremacists that the only place for you in America’s future is in the history books. To all the bigots, racists, and xenophobes, I say, your time; she’s up. Prejudice is going the way of parachute pants and the phone booth. And now it’s a law; it’s in the books. Apparently ours is a society that needs legislation for common sense, but whatever, as long as we get there.

White privilege has been going on in this country since the beginning, and spotlighting people’s differences is Chapter Two in The Oligarchy Handbook (consumerism is Chapter One.) The idea of white supremacy may be dead, but the ghost still rattles its chains every time a white person does nothing to help her non-white neighbor. We’ve had more than one war about this, people, and it’s settled. We’ve decided, as a species, not to foster segregation or discrimination. Why can’t the ugly mobs carrying tiki torches get with the program? (And since when do the losers of the battle get to fly their flag?! For fuck’s sake.)

If you’re white and nineteen and angry, (as you should be at that age) try picking another cause (maybe one that betters the world?) instead of regurgitating an old, unworthy idea that will never come to pass. Also, consider whether the reason you fell for it in the first place is because you are coming from a place of insecurity and self-loathing. And if you’re white, over nineteen and still angry, it’s not too late. There’s still time for you to find your way to inner peace, and— of course— there’s a support group: Lifeafterhate.org. Google it, because people living happy, productive lives do not spend their time actively putting others down.

The best white privilege analogy I’ve read is by stand-up comedian Omar Ismail, from the UAE; reprinted here with his permission.

All You Know About Me is That I’m White

By Omar Ismail

Consider it this way. All I know about you is you’re tall.

Do you have any advantages?


Does that mean you don’t deserve the can of tuna on the higher shelf? No. Nobody is saying that. Eat away mighty giant.

Should you feel guilty about getting the tuna from the top shelf? No. Nobody is saying that. Lighten your soul’s burden and let it fly free in the clouds beneath your knees.

Does that mean short people can’t get the tuna? No.

Nobody is saying that. See how the enduring hobbit pushes forward in her quest.

Does that mean there aren’t disadvantages of being tall? No.

Nobody is saying that. You have our sympathy for your poor bruised knees.

What people are saying is:

  1. Denying you are lucky is silly.

  2. Stop looking bewildered every time a short person can’t reach something. We’re sick of explaining this incredibly simple concept.

  3. We know there are things you do not have (e.g. even higher shelves.)

  4. We know there may be other things preventing you reaching the high shelves. Maybe you have bad elbows or arthritis. Short people with arthritis are still below you. You are still lucky you are tall.

  5. It works out well for most people, for the grocery store to put most things on medium shelves.

  6. If you can help shorter people with things on higher shelves, do so. Why would you not do that? Short people can help you with stuff on lower shelves.

  7. We are annoyed that the people who run the grocery store put all the best stuff on the top shelves.

  8. There are a lot of people who are putting things on higher shelves because they hate short people. Don’t associate with those people. They want everything to be about this height:

Same with white. Advantages. It doesn’t mean you’re rich. It doesn’t mean you’re luckier than a lucky black guy. Nobody wants you to be crippled with guilt. Nobody has ever wanted that, or means those things.

It means you have an advantage, and all anyone is asking is that you *get* that. Once you get that, it’s pretty straightforward to all the further implications.

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