White Privilege vs. Black Privilege
The term “white privilege” makes me bristle. (See Matt Chandler’s post on “White Privilege.” I disagree with a good bit of it.)
White privilege is supposedly the idea that white people have an easier time in life than black people.
I want to say white privilege is bullshit. But it’s not. I submit to you, however, that black privilege exists too.
Black privilege has manifested itself in my life. I have been afforded opportunities simply based on the color of my skin.
- I received an $18,000 scholarship to a popular NY college because I identified myself as “black.”
- I was nominated for a National Achievement Scholarship, even though my SAT score was 1110 out of 1600. (This was before the SAT scores changed.)
- I landed an prestigious internship working for a famous NY senator.
- I almost landed a job with a daily NY newspaper based on the fact that I was a “person of color.”
- I currently add “diversity” to the workplaces in my area.
Black privilege didn’t exist 50 years ago. But I daresay that affirmative action and quotas in the workplace have helped to level the playing field for people of color.
Black privilege is:
- the existence Black Entertainment Television (BET). The formation of a channel like White Entertainment Television (WET) would never make it on the air.
- the existence of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Heaven forbid if Harvard and Yale tried to keep their colleges strictly white, you’d best believe there would be a problem for those colleges.
- Tyler Perry making movies that are essentially blackface by black people. If a white person tried to make the exact same movies as Tyler Perry, you KNOW they’d be branded as a racist.
- being able to call any white person a racist at any time.
- people like President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey shattering some of the highest, hardest ceilings socioeconomically. I don’t care if you love or hate those two examples. It’s true.
- the existence of writers, such as Alice Walker, Nikki Giovanni, Toni Morrison, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston (to name a few). Look, I can’t get agented or published and I’m a black woman!
- the platforms of funny men, such as Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, and Steve Harvey. They can be vulgar, irreverent, silly, and real and still be respected in their own right.
- living in the suburbs of major cities and attending good public schools rather than living in the inner city, which tends to have schools that fare poorly. (Ferguson, MO is suburb of St. Louis, MO that consists of mostly black people.)
I could go on, but you get my drift.
I had a discussion with my husband in which I told him that if he were a candidate for a job against a black man, he would would get the job most likely because he’s white. My husband disagreed. He said that if the workplace had a quota to fill, he’d lose out.
Fifty years ago, that would NOT have been the case. White privilege would have won out. But black privilege is slowly taking its place.
I believe white privilege is slowly being eradicated. White Americans are not projected to be the majority in the US over time; Hispanics—people of color—are. The idea that white Americans have it easier than black people, on the whole, may still be true. But it won’t always be that way.