This article is very important and very educational. There are many ways to have privilege and simply being white is not the only way. Classism is very real, but still & as the article points out, even a broke, poor, white person has more privilege than a broke not white person.
Power and privilege comes in many forms. also see the essay that is mentioned in the article here: White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
I’ve seen this piece around a lot and I wanted to talk about how much it bothered me the first time I read it.
Because it does a good job at pointing out classism in mainstream (upperclass directed) anti-racist movements, but it ignores the dynamics within poor communities.
You don’t have to have contact with mainstream anti-racism narratives to be able to look around your own poor communities and see how the POC are being treated worse. Poor white people can know they are treated better than poor POC by looking around their own communities and examining their own experiences. Poor white people who are paying attention and listening to poor POC know that poor white people experience less police harassment, are treated better in education, given better housing opportunities, are given jobs and promotions more easily, are treated better in court, etc. We’re taught to ignore these things by a racist society.
The alienation of poor white people from mainstream anti-racism narratives due to classism is very real, but it’s not what primarily drives white privilege denial among white poor people. That’s still the old pretend white privilege doesn’t exist to continue reaping its benefits thing.
When I was beginning to more seriously examine my white/white passing privilege (I’m at that weird borderline between white and not white as someone with a white passing biracial father and a white mother-I get many of the elements of white privilege though), I thought “racism is way bigger than I had thought, how could I have believed that racism wasn’t as bad and systematic as it is? I can look around as see a lot of this stuff.” The thing is, I was taught not to see it. I was taught to trust narratives about fairness and shit like “the American Dream” more than my own experiences and observations and those of people I trusted.
So how do I explain white privilege to poor white people? Not by pointing out classism in mainstream anti-racist teachings in academia, but by first addressing the concrete realities of how white privilege makes things easier for poor white people than poor POC. Looking at how white privilege benefits poor white people personally, not just in the abstract when they are grouped within white identity with rich white people, is so important to unlearning white privileged denial in poor people and the fact that the article doesn’t even touch on that bothered the hell out of me.
It bothers me that feminists think society owes them something. Always bitching and never satisfied. My parents abandoned me when I was 3-years-old. I was placed in a foster home with a pedophile for a father and a speed freak mother. I dropped out of school and left home at 14 years old. I was adjudicated as an adult and I was 100% independent. I went to college and have 2 degrees in science. I made my own opportunities and I never felt society, or anyone else owed me for breathing. Make your own way and quit bitching you whiny assed loud mouthed feminist bitches!