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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Here's the perfect gift for the white guy who has it all but doesn't deserve it

Know people who are so annoyingly privileged they create problems without even realizing it? You could help them reform with the help of these "non-aggressive" cards from Internet gift company Casa Girl — if they weren't sold out. (Courtesy photo)<br />
Know people who are so annoyingly privileged they create problems without even realizing it? You could help them reform with the help of these "non-aggressive" cards from Internet gift company Casa Girl — if they weren't sold out. (Courtesy photo)
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 04, 2017 09:01 pm
If you're looking for a perfect gift for the person who already has been given everything, a Brooklyn Internet shop can put them in their place, promote social justice and boost your own self-esteem for as little as $5. That's right: The campaign to identify and eradicate "white privilege" has moved from elite universities and corporate diversity seminars into the streets in the form of business cards that will allow you to insult (or enlighten, if you prefer) perfect strangers by warning them their "privilege is showing."

The business cards — available in packs of 10 for $5 — alert unsuspecting recipients their "privilege just allowed you to make a comment that others cannot agree (sic) or relate to" and include boxes to "check your privilege," whether it be white, socioeconomic, Christian, male, heterosexual, able-bodied, citizen, other or all of the above.

Would you be annoyed or offended by receiving one of these "direct yet non-aggressive" cards after making even an innocent remark? That just proves how badly you need to be educated about privilege in America.

This may seem like a joke, but it is no laughing matter. For proof, simply search for references to "white privilege" on the Internet and you will find all sorts of pseudo-intellectual material that is as nonsensical as it is dangerous. Not only do proponents of "white privilege" misdiagnose the disease, they prescribe a cure that can do nothing but make conditions worse.

Peggy McIntosh, an associate director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, an acknowledged pioneer in the anti-white privilege movement, wrote in 1990 about how she was "taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group." She listed 50 daily effects of white privilege, including "I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color" and "I I feel welcomed and 'normal' in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social."

I'm neither denying nor excusing the existence and impact of real racism, but notice how those and many of McIntosh's other alleged slights are based on mere perception: "I 'feel' welcomed." It is indeed usually easier to be a member of a dominant group, but that hardly guarantees success or happiness. Nor will accusing people you don't even know of being "privileged" on the basis of superficial traits do anything but  increase alienation on all sides.

Hence the concept of "microaggressions" — words or deeds that, however unintentionally, cause discomfort about members of minority groups. The University of California in 2015 conducted seminars intended to help employees avoid such potentially offensive phrases as "America is a melting pot," "I believe the most qualified person should get the job" and "There is only one race — the human race." That phrase, according to the course guide based on a book by a Columbia University psychology professor, "is offensive because it denies the significance of a person of color's racial/ethnic experience and history."

From there it was only a small step to campus speech codes and "safe spaces" in which students could be protected from ideas they might find offensive. Imagine how the civil-rights movement would have ended had Martin Luther King Jr. or the freedom riders been afraid to confront people guilty of far more than "privilege."

The concept of "white privilege" is pernicious because it is just another example of how minorities are often victimized by those claiming to help them. Actual discrimination is already illegal; how would eliminating "white privilege," even if it were possible, materially change the lives of people struggling with poverty, substandard education, the breakdown of the family and other challenges? Americans must work together to solve the nation's problems, and putting all of the burden on one group while absolving others of responsibility is not the answer for anyone seeking solutions instead of scapegoats. How do minorities benefit by constantly being told their fate is controlled by others?

At some point, we all need to learn how to deal with people or ideas we may not like. That's part of being an adult, or used to be. But if your sense of moral superiority demands it, order a set of the cards. They'll make great stocking stuffers next year.

And may all your Christmases be white.

Sorry; couldn't help myself.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Kevin Leininger at kleininger@news-sentinel.com or call him at 461-8355.


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