White Privilege

By Jared Taylor

One of my friends likes to say that “white people love to feel good about themselves by feeling bad about being white.” He’s right. For a lot of white people—especially academic types—nothing makes them feel more virtuous than apologizing for being white.

You see, it automatically makes you a good white person if you apologize for the sins of other white people who, unlike yourself, are bad, racist white people. The trouble is, there aren’t enough of those bad white people to account for how awful things are for blacks. Did Richard Nixon really somehow make black people go out and shoot each other? Do Tea Partiers force black teenagers to get pregnant?

That’s too irrational for even the most crazed liberals, so that’s why they invented “institutional racism.” That’s how you explain black—and now Hispanic—failure when you can’t point to real, live, breathing, drooling white people who are trampling on blacks. Institutions somehow keep down the non-whites.

But institutional racism isn’t satisfying. You can’t feel genuinely bad about being white if the problem is institutions. That’s too abstract.

Thank goodness, back in 1988, a woman named Peggy McIntosh discovered a far more satisfying and personal way to feel bad about being white. It’s called “white privilege” or “white skin privilege.” What you see on the screen is a graph of how often the words “institutional racism” and “white privilege” occurred in books over the years. As you can see, “institutional racism” has been around since about 1965. “White privilege” didn’t catch on until about 1990, but has clearly pulled ahead.

What makes “white privilege” so attractive is that it’s personal. All white people have it. At the same time, it’s not like admitting you’re a racist—that would be just too awful. White privilege happens to you passively, whether you know it or not, so it’s not even really your fault. But admitting that you have it and, of course, feeling bad about it, means you are a very sensitive, very good white person.

So who’s Peggy McIntosh? She’s a Wellesley University feminist who wrote a paper called “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” As a feminist, she got the idea from watching men. Men, she said, may be willing to admit that women are oppressed, but almost all of them refuse to admit that they, themselves, are “overprivileged,” as she puts it. Men refuse to see that they have unearned, undeserved benefits just because they are men. Since I can’t deal with more than one new idea at a time, I will ignore “male privilege.”

As Peggy McIntosh put it, “I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day . . . . White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks.” The crucial point is that the stuff in the invisible knapsack is unearned, undeserved, and every single white person is born with all this loot.

In discovering white privilege, Peggy discovered that she, too, was, in her words, “an oppressor,” “an unfairly advantaged person,” and “a participant in a damaged culture.” That’s enough to make a good white person feel exquisitely bad.

I confess there is much that baffles me about this, but the first thing is, I bet Peggy and her pals would tell you that race doesn’t even exist. I don’t understand how I can have white skin privilege if race doesn’t exist.

Frankly, if I’ve got white privilege, I’d like to cash in. Sounds like useful stuff in that knapsack. Clothes, maps? That means if I get lost and it starts to rain, then so long as I’m white, I can just reach in there and pull out a map and a raincoat? And if I’m broke, I just write myself one of those blank checks?

No, apparently it’s not that simple. But Peggy’s trying to explain, and she lists no fewer than 50 specific, unearned advantages of being white. I read them all, and they fall into four categories: Ridiculous, wrong, inevitable because whites are the majority, and inevitable because people of different races behave differently.

Here’s a ridiculous one: “I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.” Whew. What a relief. Thank goodness I’m white.

Here’s one that is spectacularly wrong: “My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races.” Oh, Peggy. You better not believe that. Like all white people, you better be on your toes all the time to make sure you don’t say the wrong thing when you’re around non-whites.

Here’s another: “I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.” Peggy, darling. You got that one the wrong way ‘round, too. There’s probably not a single white neighborhood anywhere in the country where a non-white would be in danger just walking down the street. I won’t even begin to list the places a white person would fear for his life.

This one’s just as bad: “If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility . . .  than a person of color will have.” Wrong again, Peggy. If a non-whites says “racism,” white people panic. If a white person complains about anti-white discrimination, he can be ignored; he’s just a cry baby.

And Peggy is upset because there are so many white people on TV, there is food white people like to eat in the supermarket, and American history is mostly about white people. Well, guess what, Peggy. If you went to Nigeria, there’d be a lot of Nigerians on TV, and stores that sell food Nigerians like to eat. That’s the way it is when you are the majority population. It would be absurd if it were otherwise.

And finally, Peggy is deeply bothered by the fact that the store detective doesn’t follow her around but might follow a black person. I’m just stumped by that one. Peggy must be right. That sounds like an expression of pure, irrational hatred for black people, especially for young black men.

As I said, there are 50 of these things. Go look them up on the Internet if you want to share Peggy’s agonies about the unearned privileges of whiteness.

But what does a virtuous white person do about all this unearned privilege? Do you go up to the store detective and ask him to follow you around? Do you do all your shopping in a Chinese grocery store so you can thrill to the sensation of not finding what you want? No. Peggy doesn’t have any suggestions at all. She talks about “systemic change,” but says that takes decades.  It really does seem like the whole point is to feel really, really good about feeling really, really bad about being white.

But I still have basic questions about how white privilege works. I could be wrong, but in an all-white society, presumably there’s no white privilege. So for the Swedes, for example, before mass immigration began in the 1970s, they had to struggle through life without one lick of white privilege. Now Sweden has whole neighborhoods full of Muslims on welfare, serious race riots, and an epidemic of immigrants raping Swedish women. But presumably that’s a small price to pay for white privilege.

But could the Swedes have gotten all the white privilege they needed from just a couple of hundred immigrants, or should they bring in a whole lot more so they can really crank up the privilege? And what happens to white privilege in America when whites become a minority? Will the last white man standing be the most privileged person on earth, or are there diminishing returns?

What a bunch of bunkum. There are countless double standards that work against whites, not for them. Whites are not allowed to have legitimate interests, they may have no groups of their own, they must take no pride in their race, they must never say they prefer being around whites. And white privilege sure won’t help you if you talk about race and IQ. You can be fired from your job for that. White privilege? Could have fooled me.

You’d think this foolishness would have been laughed off the planet years ago, but no. Colleges drum it into their students during freshman orientation. The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs gave students up to four college credits for attending a conference on white privilege. In Duluth, Minnesota, there are huge billboards that tell the 90-percent-white city to be on the hunt for white privilege.

In Wisconsin, the state Department of Public Education teaches white high-school students to wear white wrist bands to remind them of their unearned privileges—and as a reminder to tell other people about privilege. It teaches them to set aside time every day to think about how they benefit from being white. It wants them to put a note on their mirror or computer screen to remind them to grieve over white privilege.

This is pathological. Young people can’t always see through this baloney.

And, of course, it teaches non-whites to hate us. If one of the brothers mugs you, he’s just helping himself to some of that that unearned privilege you have in that knapsack. As Amiri Bakara, one-time poet laureate of the state of New Jersey explained, “You can’t steal nothin’ from a white man, he’s already stole it; he owes you anything you want, even his life.”

So, with that happy thought, I leave you to enjoy yet another day of white privilege.

Thanks for listening.