"White Privilege" is a Stupid Term, and Here's Why

Originally published at: https://shanniiwrites.com/2019/11/17/white-privilege-is-a-stupid-term-and-heres-why/

It is no secret that diversity and representation matter a great deal to me. I write about it. I talk about it. From time to time, I argue about it. I make sure I show good examples in my own work. In fact, helping people to see that diversity is important and normal was one…

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Insightful as always.

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Thanks! It wasn’t as good as I hoped, but I hadn’t published anything in a long time and I wanted to force myself to break the mental barrier :grimacing:

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I thought it was a riveting read :eyes:

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There’s so much I wanted to say and I don’t know if I expressed it properly :grimacing:

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I think the main points came across expertly.

Privilege is a regressive name due to it implying we need to take away something white people have, instead of explaining that we need to raise PoC up to a standard of basic human rights they’ve been deprived of.

And that showing this in your writing is important because media is an important avenue of displaying political thought. I think you nailed it :smile:

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Something I do hate (please don’t attack me) is when people put the slightest unfairness down to racism. For example, a girl in my primary school class was black, and if for example the teacher said that one of the 30 white people in the class had one the writing competition (or anything really) then she would scream and fake crying that it was white privaledge and everything’s as always racist.

Like just no. They won fair and square, bish.

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I get what you mean.

It’s also kinda annoying when some people don’t actually understand what racism is.

Cos it kinda gets to a point where u can’t say anything without it being racist.

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Some people do like to just say everything that happens to them negatively is racist but it’s not.

I am white, okay and I didn’t win that either there’s no need to say it’s racist that you didn’t win. Because it’s not racist and she needs to accept that.

For some people it’s just an excuse to do whatever they want.

Not everything is about the colour of your skin :green_heart:

In fact most things aren’t, almost all are just about you as a person

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claps

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bows

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This bit particularly resonated with me:
”At the moment, the way many white people see the term makes them think of it as a threat. If they’re privileged and we aren’t, then we must be aiming to pull them down to our level. Is that really what you want to do?”

This is what I butt up against when trying to explain white privilege to other white people who aren’t financially well off. Because they don’t feel “privileged” in many ways, so I’m all for something that helps people work together to end racism, rather than further dividing us up!

This says it even better than I just did as well:

“Being white doesn’t mean your life is definitely going to be great. If that’s what any of you mean by “white privilege”, you’re plain wrong. Life isn’t that simple, honey, and there are so many other things wrong with the world that play a part in what makes life suck for people.”

Personally, I have no problem with the term, except the excellent points you bring up, so I don’t mind “checking my privilege” or whatever because I acknowledge not everyone has the same benefits as I have had in my life. But I also see how it’s condescending because though I get better treatment from many for being white, I don’t think it’s a good thing, like privilege implies, so I think we should change the term!

I don’t know if you’ve read White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh, but it was the first thing that I read on the subject and it helped me try to express what white privilege is in a non-confrontational way, but still the term is alienating.

Any suggestions on what we should be calling it?

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Thanks for reading it! :smiley: I haven’t read Peggy McIntosh’s work, so I’ll be definitely checking that out now!

I wish I had a good solution/new term, to be honest, but I can’t think of one that has the same ring to it! With optics and all, I feel like that’s just as important as what it means haha.

But I do think it should be turned around: shift the focus away from white people and towards the injustice suffered by many POCs. I think that if we invent a term that focusses on what POCs are lacking, it’s much more likely to make people think “woah what would it be like for me if I was disadvantaged like that”. Maybe something to do with neutral ground as opposed to privilege?

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Awesome, glad you’ll check it out. It was the only interesting paper I read during grad school and the first academic thing I read on white privilege and it’s pretty ahead of its time considering it was written in 1988!

Sadly, that’s very true! I mean, not completely sadly, words have meaning and impact so that’s good, but it’s so much pressure to come up with just the right thing to say sometimes!

Yeah, that makes sense. I guess there’s “leveling the playing field” but that hasn’t gone over well with affirmative action. Respect everyone’s inalienable human rights? But that doesn’t focus on POC whose rights have been disrespected plus the whole debate on what’s a right versus a privilege?

And of course, your perspective is super interesting!

Definitely will keep thinking about this. I bet someone has suggested something good, but it hasn’t gotten enough attention…

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I didn’t read article yet. But. Unrelatedly I watched one video today about representation in cinematics and what I thought. Representation for the sake of representation is utterly stupid and not engaging. Accidental representation on the other hand, when story is told from the perspective of the representative of some specific group, that is told because the story is good by itself, but happens to be told from that point of view, opposed to story told just because the POV is from certain representative, feels natural. Hope I made nuf sense.

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Definitely. As someone who posts about diversity a lot, I don’t really totally agree with the whole “forced diversity” narrative as it makes it seem like it’s not normal for there to be lots of different people. I take issue to that in such a globalised world, especially when a story is set somewhere like America…

But I’m also really tired of how a lot of authors — mainly young and inexperienced — treat diversity. Like it’s a shopping list or something! It’s much better for you to create characters and then realise that they’re from diverse backgrounds than treat people like you’re picking up some eggs and milk from the store :sweat_smile:

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Makes sense to me. I agree that representation for the sake of representation is generally not helpful. I have been lucky not to come across much (if any) of it, though that I can remember.

thiiiiiiis!

Like I get that people want to make diverse stories, but it isn’t a checklist. LGBT+ character, check, POC, check, etc. Characters, no matter their background, should feel like real people! Easier said than done, but that’s the goal.

I read this interview with a French filmmaker who said this (emphasis mine) when she was interviewed about her movie that won at the Cannes film festival:

Even if you want to trust the programmers of a festival, you know that being in competition is always a mix of good and bad reasons. Good reasons, meaning for the film only, and bad reasons meaning what you represent. It was mixed feelings. It’s only when I found out in the newspaper that I realized that I was the first black woman.

I thought it was interesting because I really think we’re all on the same side with this. No one wants to be considered for the “bad reasons,” just to be treated by the merit of their work. How we get that to happen is a whole other discussion!

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Bump

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Bump

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Bump :eyes:

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