Hi Geraldine, thank you for reading and taking time to compose your thoughts. I have to say, though, it sounds like you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the word “privilege.” It has nothing to do with “owing” anything to anyone.
It feels kinda like you had a knee-jerk reaction to a word you don’t like because of what you assume it implies, yet you haven’t taken the time to read more, digest, and try to understand the actual meaning of the word.
You can’t really make an informed argument against the word without truly understanding the term itself. It’s not that anyone is using it “irresponsibly,” it’s that readers are applying their own bias to a word they don’t fundamentally understand.
Yes, of course majority rules in other cultures and countries. But what I’m talking about here is the specific, uniquely American version of white privilege. It’s more about the fact that white privilege is both a legacy and the root cause of racism in America. It takes into consideration both the origins of white privilege, as well as the modern, lingering ability it has on influencing systemic decisions and actions.
Having white privilege and acknowledging it are not racist actions.
Whenever any of us white folks try to speak on this, and we get defensive responses like yours, the conversation is derailed or shut down altogether.
And the reason we get so much pushback on the term itself stems from several things:
1.) the fact that people bring their own assumptions & implied connotations to the term, which are often incorrect;
2.) the word ‘white’ itself creates discomfort in people who are not used to being defined, described, or characterized by their race, and
3.) the word ‘privilege’ for many white Americans, but especially those who may be economically disadvantaged, for example, sounds like something that doesn’t fit their narrative. As if it implies you’ve never struggled, suffered, had to pull yourself up by the bootstraps, or endured any other hardships. As if it implies you haven’t worked hard for everything you have, or earned every bit of it.
That’s not what it means at all.
“White” in America is the default “normal” race — something that won’t bother you necessarily, if you’re considered a member of that group in any way.
Why not seek to understand the meaning better rather than knee-jerk reacting?
“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” — Albert Einstein