John Blake, CNN, March 31, 2016
Here’s some good news for all you black folks complaining about racism in America.
You don’t know how good you have it.
At least that’s the message I heard during one of the strangest conversations I’ve ever had about race. I was talking about the concept of white privilege–the belief that being white comes with unearned advantages and everyday perks that its recipients are often unaware of. I asked a white retiree if he believed in the existence of white privilege. He said no, but there was another type of privilege he wanted to talk about:
Confused by his answer, I asked him to give me an example of a perk that I enjoyed as a black man that he couldn’t. His answer: “Black History Month.”
“In America you can’t even talk about whiteness,” said Drew Domalick, who lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin. “If you try to embrace being white, you are portrayed as being a racist. If we had a White History Month, that would be viewed as a racist holiday.”
Domalick isn’t the only one who believes in black privilege. The term is being deployed in conservative circles as a rhetorical counterattack to the growing use of the term “white privilege.” It’s part of a larger transformation: White is becoming the new black.
Google the phrase “black privilege,” and one steps into a universe where whites struggle daily against the indignities heaped upon them because of their skin color. In books and articles such as “Black Skin Privilege and the American Dream,” and “It’s Past Time to Acknowledge Black Privilege,” white commentators describe how blackness has become such a “tremendous asset” that some whites are now trying to “pass” as black.
If you’re a skeptic, there’s even a “Black Privilege Checklist” listing some of the perks blacks enjoy that whites cannot.
Blacks can belong to clubs and organizations that cater specifically to their race, but there’s no National Association for the Advancement of White People because such a group would be deemed racist. Blacks can call white people “honky” and “cracker,” but whites cannot use the N-word.
Over the years, that sentiment bubbled to the surface at various times as debates over “reverse racism” and affirmative action erupted. Yet something new is now happening. More whites have begun talking about themselves as a racially oppressed majority. In a widely publicized 2011 survey, white Americans said they suffer from racial discrimination more than blacks.
David Horowitz, author of the book, “Black Skin Privilege and the American Dream,” says blacks are still more privileged, though they lag behind other racial groups in varying categories. It’s not white privilege that’s preventing them from doing better, he says; it’s their behavior, such as their inability to build more intact families.
“The fact that white people are better off is not a privilege; it’s earned,” says Horowitz, founder of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a think tank in Los Angeles created to combat “the efforts of the radical left and its Islamist allies to destroy American values.”
Not all racial disparities are inherently racist, he says.
“If racial disparities prove discrimination, then the National Basketball Association is racist,” Horowitz says. “Probably 90 percent of its players are black.”
Arguments for black privilege may face a hostile audience as acceptance of the idea of white privilege grows.
The white rapper Macklemore recently released a song titled “White Privilege.” The term “check your privilege,” a reference to white privilege, has gone mainstream.