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Individuals who are black, and indeed individuals of any minority status, possess a tremendous amount of agency to engage in the world around them and ultimately make a good life. Of course, across racial lines, not every person will succeed and not every person will fail; most people will fall somewhere in between. Individual choices any one person will make over the course of their life will have much to do with the outcome of their situation. In 2019, the United States is freer and more open than it has ever been, and any other country has ever been. 

There is, however, among certain elements of progressive activists and politicians, a notion that runs regressive to the reality we all enjoy in our time. This notion is privilege hierarchy and more specifically the notion of “white privilege.” The concept of white privilege is a socio-political tool that is wielded in conversation or action to silence dissenting opinion and bestow undeserved moral authority upon non-Caucasian peoples. Beyond the tool-like use, the use of white privilege has its own racist elements as an ideology.

Last weekend, a story concerning early-bird and regular ticket prices for the Aug. 3 AFROFUTURE Youth Fest in Detroit demonstrates a zero sum game “solution” to white privilege. For both early-bird and regular tickets, prices priced at double the cost for a white attendee compared to minority attendee. An article from Fox News relays the comments of the co-director of the event, who claimed the reasoning for the ticket price difference was because, “events often designed for marginalized black and brown communities can easily be co-opted by those with cultural, monetary and class privileges.”  

Clearly, the notion of white privilege and having to “overcome” that privilege is in play here, as is the explicit racism of the ticket pricing policy. Eventbrite, an event promotion and ticket purchasing site, agrees, and threatened to remove the event, asserting that, “charging different prices based on race or ethnicity clearly violates our Terms of Service.”  Under threat of removal from Eventbrite, along with the self-imposed cancelled performance of the biracial performer Tiny Jag (Jillian Graham) due to the racial pricing, AFROFUTURE backtracked on its policy, claiming safety concerns due to threats and harassment. The form of racism that was engaged in by AFROFUTURE is classical racism at its worst: creating different standards based on race and assuming entire peoples are either a version of an oppressor or the oppressed based on nothing more than skin color.

The second form of racism is more discreet in manifestation but equally patronizing and annoying. “Benevolent” or “paternalistic” racism lives within the ideology of white privilege, if one assumes white privilege to be a forgone truth. A plethora of writing and lectures by progressive whites buy into the idea that whites must accept their “complicity” in a white society and acknowledge or “check” their privilege.

Beyond simply “checking” privilege, often white progressives claim that the solution to the problem must entail the use of their privilege, ultimately meaning power, to uplift the minority’s place in society. This assumes that a minority is that of a lesser person by nature. Moreover, the irony is that the assumption creates a dependency on the part of minorities to whites for agency. As a person who happens to be a bi-racial male, I cannot and will not accept the white privilege narrative because it would require me submitting to a notion based solely on race and nothing more. I have as much agency in my life, as much of a voice and as much of a spark as anyone else. The only good that comes from the white privilege narrative is a sense of a temporarily gratifying catharsis on the part of a progressive white, and the perpetual cycle of victimhood to the minority.

To close, the more concerning aspect I have personally come across is the notion that when I disagree over this topic with various white progressives, I am told that I myself experience racism and negative effects of white privilege that I cannot or have not been able to see or comprehend in my own life.  People’s experiences will always be different and unique regardless of race, and indeed there will be times where racists individuals of all stripes make race a factor in that experience, but to tell someone that they essentially know more about you than you do, based strictly on your race is simply a form of paternalistic racism. I am not going to be a victim, I am not going to surrender agency and acknowledge whites are more powerful than I am, and nobody else should feel as if they are a perpetual victim in this cycle. Minorities have agency — let us wield it as individuals.

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(21) comments

Steve Gregg

Well said, John. White privilege is a fantasy that blacks and liberals claim when they can’t find real racism. They need fantasy racism rather than admit that too many blacks fail because of their own bad decisions.

Ron Solomon

“The form of racism that was engaged in by AFROFUTURE is classical racism at its worst...” “classical racism at its worst...” That is such a hilariously ridiculous statement. Classical racism at its worst is getting stabbed at subway station because you look vaguely middle eastern. This an absolutely ridiculous article.

Jake Pierson

Is that a problem in the US...people being stabbed for looking middle eastern to any degree?

Steve Gregg

Nope. Not a problem. You might call it fake news. The regular terrorist acts Muslims perpetrate or attempt to perpetrate are the real problem. And, yes, if you are charging people more because they are white, that is pure racism, straight up.

Ron Solomon

The biggest terrorist threat in the US in the last 5 years is far right terrorists. You can look it up. Numbers don’t lie.

Steve Gregg

Well, technically you are correct. According to the Wall Street Journal, there have been no more than three fatal right wing terrorist attacks for some decades until 2014, when it jumped to eight, and seven in 2017. So, technically the percentage of attacks jumped 167% in 2014 and 133% in 2017. However, that’s not even one Saturday night’s death toll of Chicago shootings. It’s funny how you limited your range of terror to the last five years, which ignores the three thousand dead of the Muslim Sep 11 attacks. However, you forgot the Muslim terror attack in Bernadino in 2016, which left 14 dead, 22 wounded, Fourteen is more than eight, the most killed by right wing terrorists in a year. You also forgot the Muslim massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando which killed 49, wounded 53. Forty-nine is six times eight, the most killed by right wing terrorists in a year.

Ron Solomon

Can we just quit with the disengenous and intellectually lazy arguments. Here, let me google some information for you: https://www.aaiusa.org/aai_issue_brief_hate_crimes I am so tired of having dialogue with people who have ZERO interest in the truth. Make an effort.

Jake Pierson

I figure there is probably at least one example of this happening. We live in very populated country and pretty much any thing possible does happen. However my bet is it's isolated. It's a false argument the left tries to make all the time - show one example and blame/condemn us all. That's not exactly what is happening here with the stabbing comment - at least not if you put the comment under a microscope. However, the general tone and nature of the comment is certainly an extension of that kind of argument. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to assume that was the intent. But what's crazy ridiculous - it's seems safe to say someone making this comment fancies himself a proponent of equal rights with respect to race - thinks a column calling out textbook racists behavior is ridiculous - yet believes there absolutely nothing racist in his own heart.

Ron Solomon

That’s a lot of information you’ve deduced about my life from a 3 sentence comment.

Steve Gregg

Lefties like you are conformist and predictable. We only need to hear a few notes to name that tune. You’ve said nothing hear I have not heard a hundred other lefties say. Any you make the same tired old claim of all lefty bigots that your beliefs are superior so that anyone who disagrees is evil. It is a bad faith argument from a bad faith political bigot.

Ron Solomon

How are we supposed to have any sort of dialogue when you read 3 sentences of what I am saying and then draw entire characteratures from that? Is that not the exact type of bigotry you are talking about? I recommend you maintain civility if you want to have meaningful dialogue.

Steve Gregg

Ron, you’re not interested in meaningful dialogue. You’re just spouting talking points you’ve read from fake news articles in the liberal media. Your argument is as predictable as the Internationale.

Jake Pierson

You are correct I did deduce that from a short comment. But that's what your comments communicate. I don't hear you denying anything. Right wing extremist? Leftists think everything right wing is extreme. Pro-Life? Nope - extreme anti-abortionists that want to force woman into child care slavery. Voter ID? Oh hell no - extreme racist view that wants to disenfranchise poor blacks. Less taxes and government spending? Are you kidding me, that's a crazy extreme view intended to starve the less fortunate and thin the herd (hopefully black people of course.) I know - we are all extreme right wing racists. So when I use my white privilege later today to buy lunch and treat the black lady making it with respect only because my inherent racism tells me she can't handle too much directness, and when she treats me with respect because she assumes my bigotry towards Muslims might cause me to assume she if some kind of middle eastern dissent and fears I will stab her - you can add my micro-aggression to your list of extreme right wing terror stats.

Ron Solomon

That really read like a manifesto written immediately before the onset of a manic episode. I’m not trying to be condescending at this point, nor patronizing. I am legitimately concerned, and I can disengage from the conversation if you wish. There are some definite cognitive distortions here, and I’m not saying that because I disagree with you. You are doing an exceptional amount of forecasting, and that is legitimately a huge warning sign for these things.

Jake Pierson

Your not really saying anything here except questioning my metal health. Seems a bit personal but no matter I've been and will be called much worse.

Steve Gregg

An ad hominem. The next step is to call us racists, then Nazis, then Literally Hitler.

Jake Pierson

Wait wait wait wait wait........ You tried to support your opinion by siting a brief on hate crime from the Arab American Institute website - AAAANNNNDDDD you think it should be convincing? Sweet!!!!!!!!!

Ron Solomon

What makes it not a credible source? I want to hear you say it.

Jake Pierson

It's not really my job to make some compelling case against the credibility of your source - you sited it not me. It's more on you to support it's credibility. However, I did figure (despite your own bias) you could see the glaring bias the author(s) of this brief might have with respect to it's content. And while it doesn't mean the data is false (and I never said it was) it does put the conclusions into question. You said before numbers don't lie. Basically your right, but conclusions can. I'm sorry but reading a brief from a Muslim friendly source drawing conclusions about anti-Muslim hate crimes is hardly a persuasive argument.

Steve Gregg

My numbers from the Wall Street Journal show that it is false to claim right wing extremists killed more than Muslims in America. It simply isn’t so, like so many things liberals claim.

Steve Gregg

The Arab American Institute is a far left organization which denounces anyone who disagrees with it as racists, extremists, and Zionist agents. It strongly defended Saddam Hussein, claiming he never indulged in terrorism, and took his side in the Iraq War. They also strongly condemned Israel for erecting the wall which successfully stopped Palestinian suicide bombers from murdering Israeli citizens on the street, in buses, and in their homes. It is well within the AAI’s propaganda mission to minimize Muslim terror while maximizing right wing terror. https://www.discoverthenetworks.org/organizations/arab-american-institute-aai/

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