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The political logic of “privilege” and “oppression,” and its primary implication.

 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
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09 December 2019 08:28
 

The social dichotomy of the privileged versus the oppressed is the default position in several academic disciplines (social work, education counselling, graduate education, and race and gender studies), as well as the default position of the majority of mental health providers in the US (at least as they are taught: social workers and psychologists).  As such, this dichotomy deserves scrutiny, with respect to both its logic and its implications.

The logic of privilege

Although “privilege” has been called “unearned sources of social status, power, and institutionalized advantage experienced by individuals by virtue of their culturally valued and dominant social identities” (the APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men, citing McIntosh, 2008), the logic by which one comes to this definition is rarely fleshed out.  But given both the real conditions of society and the examples in McIntosh and the APA, it apparently goes something like this.

Say Bill discriminates against Bob but does not discriminate against John.  Bill’s discrimination harms Bob and puts him at a disadvantage, thus John benefits from this discrimination, in that he enjoys an advantage over Bob, who suffers it, but John doesn’t.  Since John did nothing to merit this advantage, this advantage is unearned, and since “unearned advantage” constitutes “privilege” (McIntosh), John is sad to be privileged relative to Bob. In other words, since Bill discriminates against Bob but does not discriminate against John, John enjoys the condition of not suffering the disadvantage inflicted by discrimination, and in this way he enjoys a conditional social advantage. In effect, because of Bill’s discrimination and the unearned advantage this entails, John’s status is privileged.

Extend this individualized logic society wide, where some men discriminate against women and some whites discriminate against blacks, etc., and one has the privilege all men and all whites enjoy by virtue of discrimination, in that all men and all whites enjoy the relative advantage of not suffering discrimination, and its consequent harms, regardless of whether or not they themselves discriminate.  In other words, by default they enjoy the unearned advantages entailed in not suffering discrimination, while others suffer it.  Benefiting from these unearned advantages—i.e. not being discriminated against and/or systematically denied resources—constitutes the privilege that is the result of oppression.

White privilege

The above scenario captures the logic Peggy McIntosh relies on to get white privilege, called on this forum the de facto immunity from discrimination inflicted on people of color, and defined by her as ‘the conditions conferring unearned advantage’ over people of color entailed in being white.

Specifying from the above example, say, for instance Bill, who is white, discriminates against Bob, who is black, but he does not discriminate against John, who is also white.  Per the logic above, John benefits from an unearned advantage over Bob—he does not suffer discrimination, but Bob does—and he enjoys this unearned advantage because of his “de facto immunity” from Bill’s discrimination—for they are both white.  By both definitions, then—McIntosh’s and its condensation on this forum—John experiences white privilege: “white” in this case because that’s what confers the de facto immunity from harm (their mutual whiteness), and “privileged” because of the unearned social advantage this immunity entails.  As white, John does not experience the discrimination another white man inflicts on Bob; this gives him an unearned advantage over Bob; therefore John’s whiteness makes him privileged.

The accountability for privilege as the consequence of oppression

The logic of the moral accountability for oppression—i.e. the “discrimination against and/or systematic denial of resources” to disenfranchised individuals as members of disenfranchised groups (APA)—goes like this.

As the beneficiary of Bill’s discrimination of Bob, i.e. as the recipient of the unearned advantage this discrimination confers—indeed, the social dominance this entails—John is accountable to Bob for Bill’s discrimination against him, and for the harms this causes, i.e. for the oppression.  In other words, John is justly seen as oppressive by Bob in light of Bill’s action, against which he enjoys a de facto immunity.  In fact, this de facto immunity from oppression conferring an unearned advantage and an unearned social dominance makes John morally accountable along with the actual oppressor, Bill.  As an “unfairly advantaged person” (McIntosh), John effectively shares in the crime of discrimination that harms Bob in the first place.  In short, although not the direct cause of Bob’s harm, he is a beneficiary of it, and therefore as a beneficiary he is accountable both to Bob and to society in general for it (solely, mind you, for being white).

Again, extend this individual logic society wide where some men and some whites discriminate, and one gets the collective accountability for social, institutionalized advantage entailed in the dichotomy of privilege and oppression.  And McIntosh is quite clear on this collective accountability.  As she notes: “My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person, or as a participant in a damaged culture. I was taught to see myself as an individual whose moral state depended on her individual moral will.” She goes on to indicate this emphasis on an individual being accountable for her own actions but not for the actions of others is the wrong view, and she devotes the rest of the essay to identifying “some of the daily effects of white privilege” in her life which make her accountable as an oppressor (see the benefits or “conditions” numbered 1-26 in her white privilege essay).

The problem

I wouldn’t presume to speak for anyone else, but I categorically reject a political logic that makes one accountable for, or otherwise implicates one in, the actions of another on the basis of an immutable trait, and that based on a semantic contortion—in this case turning not suffering a disadvantage or harm inflicted by someone else into some kind of problematic “advantage” or “benefit” one possess, one that needs to be lessened or given up—to wit, one’s “privilege.”  Not only does this contort the logic of what an actual advantage, benefit and privilege is; it also makes one morally culpable for the harms inflicted by another, solely on the grounds that one is not similarly afflicted.  By that logic, however—by this logic of “privilege” as “unearned advantage” because of the unshared harms inflicted by another—every non-victim is “privileged” with respect to the victims of any crime, for both conditions of McIntosh’s privilege apply: the non-victim enjoys the beneficial condition of not being a victim herself, thus conferring on her an “advantage” over the victim; and since she has nothing to do with the crime that harms the victim, this advantage is “unearned”—thus relative to the victim she is “privileged.”  Add to this the moral accountability entailed in “benefiting” from this “unearned advantage” and the picture is complete: because of their “privilege” all non-victims are morally accountable to the victims for any given crime, being on moral par, in effect, with the criminal himself, neither being victims of the crime, and both de facto benefiting from the laws and social prohibitions against crime generally, otherwise they too would be victims.  This, of course, is absurd, yet such is the entailment of the political logic of “privilege” and “oppression.”

(Others follow that won’t be developed here).

The question

The Anus asks: Is this dichotomy of the privileged versus the oppressed really a sensible way to frame the inequities in a society, much less govern one?  Are there not, obviously, more sensible ways, like stressing rights and the disadvantages and harms their violation causes, regardless of whether or not this condition reflects an “advantage” or “benefit” relative to someone else whose rights are not similarly violated?  I mean, isn’t the harm or disadvantage motive enough for alleviating it?  And not just motive enough, but conceptual means enough as well?  Indeed, why even invert the problem into one of “advantage” and “privilege” in a morality play of the ‘bad’ privileged versus the ‘good’ oppressed, as opposed to leaving it in terms of disadvantages and harms consequent on the violation of rights, where some people violate them and some people don’t?  Just what conditions is the dichotomy satisfying, given that sound logic and an accurate moral compass are not among them?

[ Edited: 09 December 2019 08:36 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
burt
 
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burt
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09 December 2019 09:38
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 09 December 2019 08:28 AM

The social dichotomy of the privileged versus the oppressed is the default position in several academic disciplines (social work, education counselling, graduate education, and race and gender studies), as well as the default position of the majority of mental health providers in the US (at least as they are taught: social workers and psychologists).  As such, this dichotomy deserves scrutiny, with respect to both its logic and its implications.

The logic of privilege

Although “privilege” has been called “unearned sources of social status, power, and institutionalized advantage experienced by individuals by virtue of their culturally valued and dominant social identities” (the APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men, citing McIntosh, 2008), the logic by which one comes to this definition is rarely fleshed out.  But given both the real conditions of society and the examples in McIntosh and the APA, it apparently goes something like this.

Say Bill discriminates against Bob but does not discriminate against John.  Bill’s discrimination harms Bob and puts him at a disadvantage, thus John benefits from this discrimination, in that he enjoys an advantage over Bob, who suffers it, but John doesn’t.  Since John did nothing to merit this advantage, this advantage is unearned, and since “unearned advantage” constitutes “privilege” (McIntosh), John is sad to be privileged relative to Bob. In other words, since Bill discriminates against Bob but does not discriminate against John, John enjoys the condition of not suffering the disadvantage inflicted by discrimination, and in this way he enjoys a conditional social advantage. In effect, because of Bill’s discrimination and the unearned advantage this entails, John’s status is privileged.

Extend this individualized logic society wide, where some men discriminate against women and some whites discriminate against blacks, etc., and one has the privilege all men and all whites enjoy by virtue of discrimination, in that all men and all whites enjoy the relative advantage of not suffering discrimination, and its consequent harms, regardless of whether or not they themselves discriminate.  In other words, by default they enjoy the unearned advantages entailed in not suffering discrimination, while others suffer it.  Benefiting from these unearned advantages—i.e. not being discriminated against and/or systematically denied resources—constitutes the privilege that is the result of oppression.

White privilege

The above scenario captures the logic Peggy McIntosh relies on to get white privilege, called on this forum the de facto immunity from discrimination inflicted on people of color, and defined by her as ‘the conditions conferring unearned advantage’ over people of color entailed in being white.

Specifying from the above example, say, for instance Bill, who is white, discriminates against Bob, who is black, but he does not discriminate against John, who is also white.  Per the logic above, John benefits from an unearned advantage over Bob—he does not suffer discrimination, but Bob does—and he enjoys this unearned advantage because of his “de facto immunity” from Bill’s discrimination—for they are both white.  By both definitions, then—McIntosh’s and its condensation on this forum—John experiences white privilege: “white” in this case because that’s what confers the de facto immunity from harm (their mutual whiteness), and “privileged” because of the unearned social advantage this immunity entails.  As white, John does not experience the discrimination another white man inflicts on Bob; this gives him an unearned advantage over Bob; therefore John’s whiteness makes him privileged.

The accountability for privilege as the consequence of oppression

The logic of the moral accountability for oppression—i.e. the “discrimination against and/or systematic denial of resources” to disenfranchised individuals as members of disenfranchised groups (APA)—goes like this.

As the beneficiary of Bill’s discrimination of Bob, i.e. as the recipient of the unearned advantage this discrimination confers—indeed, the social dominance this entails—John is accountable to Bob for Bill’s discrimination against him, and for the harms this causes, i.e. for the oppression.  In other words, John is justly seen as oppressive by Bob in light of Bill’s action, against which he enjoys a de facto immunity.  In fact, this de facto immunity from oppression conferring an unearned advantage and an unearned social dominance makes John morally accountable along with the actual oppressor, Bill.  As an “unfairly advantaged person” (McIntosh), John effectively shares in the crime of discrimination that harms Bob in the first place.  In short, although not the direct cause of Bob’s harm, he is a beneficiary of it, and therefore as a beneficiary he is accountable both to Bob and to society in general for it (solely, mind you, for being white).

Again, extend this individual logic society wide where some men and some whites discriminate, and one gets the collective accountability for social, institutionalized advantage entailed in the dichotomy of privilege and oppression.  And McIntosh is quite clear on this collective accountability.  As she notes: “My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person, or as a participant in a damaged culture. I was taught to see myself as an individual whose moral state depended on her individual moral will.” She goes on to indicate this emphasis on an individual being accountable for her own actions but not for the actions of others is the wrong view, and she devotes the rest of the essay to identifying “some of the daily effects of white privilege” in her life which make her accountable as an oppressor (see the benefits or “conditions” numbered 1-26 in her white privilege essay).

The problem

I wouldn’t presume to speak for anyone else, but I categorically reject a political logic that makes one accountable for, or otherwise implicates one in, the actions of another on the basis of an immutable trait, and that based on a semantic contortion—in this case turning not suffering a disadvantage or harm inflicted by someone else into some kind of problematic “advantage” or “benefit” one possess, one that needs to be lessened or given up—to wit, one’s “privilege.”  Not only does this contort the logic of what an actual advantage, benefit and privilege is; it also makes one morally culpable for the harms inflicted by another, solely on the grounds that one is not similarly afflicted.  By that logic, however—by this logic of “privilege” as “unearned advantage” because of the unshared harms inflicted by another—every non-victim is “privileged” with respect to the victims of any crime, for both conditions of McIntosh’s privilege apply: the non-victim enjoys the beneficial condition of not being a victim herself, thus conferring on her an “advantage” over the victim; and since she has nothing to do with the crime that harms the victim, this advantage is “unearned”—thus relative to the victim she is “privileged.”  Add to this the moral accountability entailed in “benefiting” from this “unearned advantage” and the picture is complete: because of their “privilege” all non-victims are morally accountable to the victims for any given crime, being on moral par, in effect, with the criminal himself, neither being victims of the crime, and both de facto benefiting from the laws and social prohibitions against crime generally, otherwise they too would be victims.  This, of course, is absurd, yet such is the entailment of the political logic of “privilege” and “oppression.”

(Others follow that won’t be developed here).

The question

The Anus asks: Is this dichotomy of the privileged versus the oppressed really a sensible way to frame the inequities in a society, much less govern one?  Are there not, obviously, more sensible ways, like stressing rights and the disadvantages and harms their violation causes, regardless of whether or not this condition reflects an “advantage” or “benefit” relative to someone else whose rights are not similarly violated?  I mean, isn’t the harm or disadvantage motive enough for alleviating it?  And not just motive enough, but conceptual means enough as well?  Indeed, why even invert the problem into one of “advantage” and “privilege” in a morality play of the ‘bad’ privileged versus the ‘good’ oppressed, as opposed to leaving it in terms of disadvantages and harms consequent on the violation of rights, where some people violate them and some people don’t?  Just what conditions is the dichotomy satisfying, given that sound logic and an accurate moral compass are not among them?

Nice analysis. I think that McIntosh and others who follow that line of thinking make a category error in looking at individuals as simply group members. Looking back at my past I can see numerous cases where being white has given me an advantage that I didn’t even recognize as an advantage at the time. And that does raise a moral issue, but it doesn’t (as I see it) turn me into an oppressor who is automatically in the wrong. Rather, it indicates a moral obligation to act in ways that counter the social conditions that lead to discrimination. One thing that it doesn’t do is require that I reject the advantages that having this “privilege” confers since those advantages may well be useful in acting morally to end discrimination. Having a social advantage, earned or not, brings with it a responsibility.

 
GAD
 
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09 December 2019 09:57
 

Nice, but you brought reason to a magic fight.

These people are self-deprecating and self flagellating because they want to be sinners, because there is no greater self righteous high then being redeemed of your sins by saving poor victims from of it. From sinner to savior is the greatest story ever sold. In fighting religion there was always this belief that to make progress it needed to be replaced with something else, like methadone, seems like we have found a replacement with identity politics and social justice…

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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09 December 2019 11:14
 

There may be examples where framing the inequities in a society as a dichotomy of the privileged versus the oppressed really is sensible. North Korea or the antebellum South come to mind, where privilege and oppression are/were imposed by the privileged. Is the US such an example? I think you make a good case for why it’s not, although I was already on board before I read your post. But I’m not convinced it’s as obvious to everyone. Being taught all your life that you’re oppressed by whitey probably makes it hard to distinguish between the people who aren’t discriminated against and the people who are doing the discriminating.

There is, however, a clear—if cynical—political logic to framing the inequities in a society in just that way, whether it’s true or not. At least in a democracy there is.

 
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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10 December 2019 03:12
 

Thanks burt.  I agree on a sense of moral obligation entailed in enjoying an advantageous position in society, and while I can recall no advantages in the proper sense I’ve enjoyed for being white, I can certainly see where people of color have suffered harms and disadvantages that I have not, and I feel a moral obligation to do what I can, when I can, to rectify this.  This is in no small part why I went into my field in the first place—to alleviate suffering in whatever way I can.  This took the form of mental health at first, and it has morphed into research now, but all along the way it’s been activated and informed by an aversion to unjust (or in mental health ‘tragic’) suffering, in whatever form it takes.


GAD, given what you write here, you might like Campbell and Manning’s The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars.  They observe the new morality of “woke” culture in its most native environment (college campuses mainly), and they point out that it’s driven by not just an emphasis on defending the oppressed but more so on an emphasis on condemning the oppressor.  This idea is somewhat different that the idea of religious redemption story from sinner to savior that you indicate here, but it’s similar to the extent that what they describe could be readily interpreted in religious terms, meaning that like with religion these basic moral values and orientations are non-negotiable and are taken on faith, not established by reason.  And certainly “oppression” is the ultimate sin, and being a “savior” of the oppressed by attacking the oppressor is the ultimate crusade… In any case, they give dozens and dozens of examples of how this new morality plays out on college campuses, including this one, obliquely referred to by Vociferous Fuckweasal in another thread:

When individualist feminist Wendy McElroy appeared at Brown University to debate the merits of the term rape culture, some students set up a safe space for people who needed to escape from or recuperate from McElroy’s arguments. This was a room with “cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma” (Shulevitz 2015).

By the way, the book is not politically or emotionally charged, or otherwise polemical.  They approach the moral culture of the “woke” like two social scientists.  As far as I can recall, they describe with very, very few criticisms….


Agreed, ASD, on the political utility in framing US society this way.  I wonder how far the Democratic candidates will go toward validating it in their hard-core base, and if they do, how badly it will cost them the election…

(And agreed too that the dichotomy is not carte blanche inapplicable. It’s certainly applicable in some cases, minimally has a description of one dynamic within a society, and in the case of North Korea, perhaps the entire society as such).

 

[ Edited: 10 December 2019 03:15 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
mapadofu
 
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10 December 2019 05:17
 

McIntosh “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” 2008
https://www.pcc.edu/illumination/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/05/white-privilege-essay-mcintosh.pdf

 
EN
 
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EN
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10 December 2019 08:03
 

Does White Privilege have to be put the context of discrimination and oppression?  I think WP exists, but that does not mean, in and of itself, that whites discriminate or that blacks are oppressed.  A privilege confers an advantage. WP can simply mean that whites have an advantage in our society.  We would, generally speaking, not want to be black.  I just think of it sort of like the home field advantage in a sporting event - you have more of your fans there cheering for you and you are on familiar turf, and that gives you a few points in advantage over the other team.  It doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong to them or that they are being wronged by you.  I see it as being more subtle, although there are cases of overt discrimination. 

An experiment could be something like this: have a white guy and a black guy come out of an alley and follow a woman (who could be any race) at night, say 20 feet back.  They don’t do anything else.  See how many times the woman calls the cops or takes some action for her safety for the black guy as opposed to the white guy.  My bet is the black guy gets turned in more than the white guy, or at least gets some negative reaction from the woman, even when the woman is black.  The difference is an advantage, a privilege, however subtle.

 
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10 December 2019 08:37
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 10 December 2019 03:12 AM

GAD, given what you write here, you might like Campbell and Manning’s The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars.  They observe the new morality of “woke” culture in its most native environment (college campuses mainly), and they point out that it’s driven by not just an emphasis on defending the oppressed but more so on an emphasis on condemning the oppressor.  This idea is somewhat different that the idea of religious redemption story from sinner to savior that you indicate here, but it’s similar to the extent that what they describe could be readily interpreted in religious terms, meaning that like with religion these basic moral values and orientations are non-negotiable and are taken on faith, not established by reason.  And certainly “oppression” is the ultimate sin, and being a “savior” of the oppressed by attacking the oppressor is the ultimate crusade… In any case, they give dozens and dozens of examples of how this new morality plays out on college campuses, including this one, obliquely referred to by Vociferous Fuckweasal in another thread:

When individualist feminist Wendy McElroy appeared at Brown University to debate the merits of the term rape culture, some students set up a safe space for people who needed to escape from or recuperate from McElroy’s arguments. This was a room with “cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma” (Shulevitz 2015).

By the way, the book is not politically or emotionally charged, or otherwise polemical.  They approach the moral culture of the “woke” like two social scientists.  As far as I can recall, they describe with very, very few criticisms….

Thanks, I saved it my Amazon cart. The Diversity Delusion hit the collage seen pretty hard and I just finished The Madness of Crowds which did as well. Up next is Minds Make Societies and then The Codding of the American Mind. 

Something to think about. Who was the most privileged white male who ever lived? Jesus. And what did he do with it in his story… But all anyone can do with Jesus is say how great he is, but now if you are white you can be your own Jesus thanks to identity politics, social justice and intersectionality.

 
 
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10 December 2019 08:47
 
EN - 10 December 2019 08:03 AM

Does White Privilege have to be put the context of discrimination and oppression?  I think WP exists, but that does not mean, in and of itself, that whites discriminate or that blacks are oppressed.  A privilege confers an advantage. WP can simply mean that whites have an advantage in our society.  We would, generally speaking, not want to be black.  I just think of it sort of like the home field advantage in a sporting event - you have more of your fans there cheering for you and you are on familiar turf, and that gives you a few points in advantage over the other team.  It doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong to them or that they are being wronged by you.  I see it as being more subtle, although there are cases of overt discrimination. 

An experiment could be something like this: have a white guy and a black guy come out of an alley and follow a woman (who could be any race) at night, say 20 feet back.  They don’t do anything else.  See how many times the woman calls the cops or takes some action for her safety for the black guy as opposed to the white guy.  My bet is the black guy gets turned in more than the white guy, or at least gets some negative reaction from the woman, even when the woman is black.  The difference is an advantage, a privilege, however subtle.

Um, yes.

Here’s an experiment: In a majority black country does being in the black majority over being in the non-black minority? If you say no you are being racist, if you say yes you are being racist in context or you have to separate race from privilege and define it membership in the majority has it’s privileges.   

 

 
 
EN
 
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10 December 2019 08:54
 
GAD - 10 December 2019 08:47 AM
EN - 10 December 2019 08:03 AM

Does White Privilege have to be put the context of discrimination and oppression?  I think WP exists, but that does not mean, in and of itself, that whites discriminate or that blacks are oppressed.  A privilege confers an advantage. WP can simply mean that whites have an advantage in our society.  We would, generally speaking, not want to be black.  I just think of it sort of like the home field advantage in a sporting event - you have more of your fans there cheering for you and you are on familiar turf, and that gives you a few points in advantage over the other team.  It doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong to them or that they are being wronged by you.  I see it as being more subtle, although there are cases of overt discrimination. 

An experiment could be something like this: have a white guy and a black guy come out of an alley and follow a woman (who could be any race) at night, say 20 feet back.  They don’t do anything else.  See how many times the woman calls the cops or takes some action for her safety for the black guy as opposed to the white guy.  My bet is the black guy gets turned in more than the white guy, or at least gets some negative reaction from the woman, even when the woman is black.  The difference is an advantage, a privilege, however subtle.

Um, yes.

Here’s an experiment: In a majority black country does being in the black majority over being in the non-black minority? If you say no you are being racist, if you say yes you are being racist in context or you have to separate race from privilege and define it membership in the majority has it’s privileges.

I would think that a black person in a black majority country with no history of colonialism would have an advantage, a privilege.  I felt at a disadvantage when I visited India - I was the odd man out.  Again, I don’t think the privilege necessarily has anything to do with racism or oppression.

 
GAD
 
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10 December 2019 08:59
 
EN - 10 December 2019 08:54 AM
GAD - 10 December 2019 08:47 AM
EN - 10 December 2019 08:03 AM

Does White Privilege have to be put the context of discrimination and oppression?  I think WP exists, but that does not mean, in and of itself, that whites discriminate or that blacks are oppressed.  A privilege confers an advantage. WP can simply mean that whites have an advantage in our society.  We would, generally speaking, not want to be black.  I just think of it sort of like the home field advantage in a sporting event - you have more of your fans there cheering for you and you are on familiar turf, and that gives you a few points in advantage over the other team.  It doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong to them or that they are being wronged by you.  I see it as being more subtle, although there are cases of overt discrimination. 

An experiment could be something like this: have a white guy and a black guy come out of an alley and follow a woman (who could be any race) at night, say 20 feet back.  They don’t do anything else.  See how many times the woman calls the cops or takes some action for her safety for the black guy as opposed to the white guy.  My bet is the black guy gets turned in more than the white guy, or at least gets some negative reaction from the woman, even when the woman is black.  The difference is an advantage, a privilege, however subtle.

Um, yes.

Here’s an experiment: In a majority black country does being in the black majority over being in the non-black minority? If you say no you are being racist, if you say yes you are being racist in context or you have to separate race from privilege and define it membership in the majority has it’s privileges.

I would think that a black person in a black majority country with no history of colonialism would have an advantage, a privilege.  I felt at a disadvantage when I visited India - I was the odd man out.  Again, I don’t think the privilege necessarily has anything to do with racism or oppression.

Yet all your examples are about one skin color being better then another to the point that the lesser color is systematically put down and attacked simply because of skin color.

 
 
burt
 
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10 December 2019 09:23
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 10 December 2019 03:12 AM

Thanks burt.  I agree on a sense of moral obligation entailed in enjoying an advantageous position in society, and while I can recall no advantages in the proper sense I’ve enjoyed for being white, I can certainly see where people of color have suffered harms and disadvantages that I have not, and I feel a moral obligation to do what I can, when I can, to rectify this.  This is in no small part why I went into my field in the first place—to alleviate suffering in whatever way I can.  This took the form of mental health at first, and it has morphed into research now, but all along the way it’s been activated and informed by an aversion to unjust (or in mental health ‘tragic’) suffering, in whatever form it takes.

The most outstanding example of when being white (and from Canada) gave me an advantage was one midnight when I’d picked my brother up at the Tucson airport and was driving home. Stopped by a cop and, long story short, he didn’t shoot me. But maybe it was Canadian privilege.

 
LadyJane
 
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10 December 2019 09:27
 

This is what everyone thought, about exactly the same thing, a year and a half ago.

https://forum.samharris.org/forum/viewthread/71203/

 
 
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10 December 2019 09:33
 
burt - 10 December 2019 09:23 AM
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 10 December 2019 03:12 AM

Thanks burt.  I agree on a sense of moral obligation entailed in enjoying an advantageous position in society, and while I can recall no advantages in the proper sense I’ve enjoyed for being white, I can certainly see where people of color have suffered harms and disadvantages that I have not, and I feel a moral obligation to do what I can, when I can, to rectify this.  This is in no small part why I went into my field in the first place—to alleviate suffering in whatever way I can.  This took the form of mental health at first, and it has morphed into research now, but all along the way it’s been activated and informed by an aversion to unjust (or in mental health ‘tragic’) suffering, in whatever form it takes.

The most outstanding example of when being white (and from Canada) gave me an advantage was one midnight when I’d picked my brother up at the Tucson airport and was driving home. Stopped by a cop and, long story short, he didn’t shoot me. But maybe it was Canadian privilege.

And all you do here is promote the completely unfounded cops are racist bullshit so everyone will think what a special white person you are.

 
 
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10 December 2019 09:36
 
LadyJane - 10 December 2019 09:27 AM

This is what everyone thought, about exactly the same thing, a year and a half ago.

https://forum.samharris.org/forum/viewthread/71203/

And? For 10 years all we did was think and fight about religion, that has now been replace by white bashing so that white people can be their own white Jesus.

 
 
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10 December 2019 11:54
 

EN

Does White Privilege have to be put the context of discrimination and oppression?  I think WP exists, but that does not mean, in and of itself, that whites discriminate or that blacks are oppressed.

Yes, for whatever label one uses for those who believe that this schema codifies society, “white privilege” not only occurs in the context of discrimination and oppression; it is the result of oppression, and nothing else.  It means—precisely—that whites discriminate and that blacks are oppressed.  As I quoted from Chelsea Handler’s documentary in the “White Privilege 2.0” thread (from a guy who wrote one of the most widely read books on the topic): “privilege is the flipside of oppression.”  Without oppression, there would be no privilege in the sense these not-here-labeled people mean.  And it’s whites who are the oppressors of blacks, men of women, Christians of non-Christians, and so forth…

(What I wrote then and what I’ve written here is an accurate distillation of what’s taught in the fields I mention above.  You’ll have to take that on faith, I guess, but I presume to know this stuff because I learned it in a representative program where these notions are not only taught; they contextualize virtually everything else that is taught as well.  In any case, white privilege does have to be put in the context of discrimination and oppression because the notion was developed to exemplify a primary consequence of both. 

Apologies for topping it an authority here, if one is necessary…)

A privilege confers an advantage.

Yes, but an advantage does not necessarily confer privilege, and in any case, all McIntosh’s “advantages” (and therefore “privilege”) amount to is not suffering the disadvantages of discrimination.  That’s privilege for her—not suffering disadvantage.  Yet somehow this is problematic, for note: privilege is the result of oppression; oppression is unjust; therefore privilege is unjust.  Yet, in your own example, what is unjust there—that the black guy is harassed or that the white guy is not?  Properly speaking it’s the former, but “privilege” speaking is has to be the latter because that is what McIntosh turns the problem into—having privileges that are problematic, not having rights that are violated.  She is quite specific on this turning the conversation away from the “disadvantages,” the lack of “opportunity” and violation of “rights” in discrimination and turning it towards the “advantages” conferred by “oppression” in the form of “privileges.”  But like your example illustrates quite well, I think, this focus is entirely unnecessary (and as I’ve shown elsewhere, it’s nonsensical).  The relevant issue there isn’t that the white guy is left alone; it’s that the black guy is not, and all McIntosh does is flip things upside down and turn the white guy being left alone into the problem.

I just think of it sort of like the home field advantage in a sporting event - you have more of your fans there cheering for you and you are on familiar turf, and that gives you a few points in advantage over the other team.  It doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong to them or that they are being wronged by you.

Actually wrongs have been done to them—they are oppressed—and you, as white, are culpable for the wrongs, for the oppression.  In a real sense, then, they are being wronged by you. While you may not be doing anything wrong, specifically—you may not be discriminating—your whiteness means you represent the wrongs they have suffered; that you are morally responsible for the wrongful discrimination done to them, though done by others.  As I noted above, not only is McIntosh quite clear on this point: it is probably the principle upshot of the whole idea—to assign collective accountability by virtue of race for racial discrimination.  Like John in the example, you are a beneficiary of oppression and discrimination—you enjoy that “home field advantage”—therefore you are morally culpable for it.  This culpability and bringing one to awareness of it is arguably the main point of calling “privilege” out. 

Also, the home field analogy is not quite accurate because you are right: home field advantage is not considered an inflicted wrong; it’s just a fact of how sports are played, and almost an inevitable one, at that.  But there is nothing inevitable about the oppression that defines privilege, and while having the home field advantage captures an effect of “privilege,” it does not capture what privilege is.  Like I said, for that one needs oppression…

 

 

[ Edited: 10 December 2019 13:05 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
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