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The myth of eradicated racism: A proof of the existence of white privilege

By Christin Howard

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I want to talk about white privilege. We hear about it all the time and yet I consistently run into white people who believe it doesn’t exist. This disbelief, in my optimistic opinion, is often caused by a fundamental misunderstanding of what white privilege means and how it affects the American population.

The anti-political correctness movement generally posits that we live in a post-racial society and that we have begun to swing to the other extreme in an effort to be PC.

My goal here is to simply explain what white privilege is and to demonstrate that discrimination against black people, both on a small scale and more importantly on a systematic and often-unconscious level, is still a huge issue.

The confusion people often run into is this: I am white and yet I don’t feel as though I have any special privileges. I still struggle. I am not rich, happy, or comfortable. Just because I am white and struggle, since I myself do not experience this privilege, it must not exist.

This logical jump can be best disproved if we think of privilege not as a positive (the gaining of something), but simply as the standard. This means that white privilege is simply the condition of being allowed a fair chance at success in society.

White privilege is the norm while minority groups live in the absence of this fair chance. If you lived your whole life with a certain standard of fair social living, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that you would not notice that this standard is not equally shared with all members of society.

White privilege means that your race does not negatively affect your overall experience of life. It means that the system has been constructed for your benefit. It does not mean you will have a good life; it just means that your race is not one of the factors that contributes to any sort of destitution or struggle you may experience.

This is hard for some people to grasp because society has agreed that racism is a bad thing. This means you are not allowed to be outright racist. Many people mistakenly conflate this with the death of racism. However, it is important for us to remember that Jim Crow was only abolished 40 years ago, and so those same issues of systematic and internalized racism that existed then have lingered into the 21st century, and there are statistics to prove it.

Let’s start with job discrimination. A study published by John Nunley, Nicholas Romero, Richard Seals and Adam Pugh for the Auburn University Department of Economics found that job applicants with “black sounding names” were a whopping 16 percent less likely to get called in to interview for a job than their white counterparts, even when their resumes were otherwise identical.

Housing discrimination is also an issue. A new report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that when searching for a new home to rent, black people are shown 17 percent fewer available homes than white people.

The biggest issue is the hugely disproportionate numbers of black citizens (especially black males) who are currently incarcerated. According to the Bureau of Justice, in 2009 black people accounted for 39.4 percent of the prison population while whites accounted for only 34 percent. Blacks make up only 12.3 percent of the American population while whites make up a 63 percent. This means that the incarceration rate for black people is over six times higher than that of white people.

Now, many racists claim that this is just because black people are somehow more naturally violent or prone to crime. Let’s examine that claim further.

New York City recently lost a federal civil rights lawsuit about their stop-and-frisk policies because the NYPD stopped over 500,000 people annually without any indication a crime was committed. Of those stopped, 80 percent were black or Latino.

In addition, black drivers are 31 percent more likely to be pulled over than white drivers. Black drivers are searched by police at traffic stops two times more than white drivers.

Additionally, 15 percent of all inmates in the United States are jailed on drug-related offenses. Of this 15 percent, 32.6 percent is white and 38.4 percent is black. Again, when adjusted for differences in black and white population, black people are six times more likely to get arrested and incarcerated for drug offenses.

Almost half of these drug arrests are due to marijuana. According to a 2010 study by the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse and Health, despite the fact that marijuana use among blacks and whites remains constant, black people are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white peers.

According to the Department of Justice, African Americans account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population. Again, clearly disproportionate.

Now these statistics show that today America is still a racist society. If you are black you are more likely to have trouble finding housing and getting a job. You are more likely to be pulled over, searched, arrested, incarcerated and shot. But what about the fact that crime rates are in fact disproportionately higher in black urban areas?

Poverty affects black citizens disproportionately. In 2008, the Bureau of Justice found that 34 percent of black children were living in poverty while only 10 percent of white children shared the same conditions.

Blacks are more likely to live in what are called high-poverty census track neighborhoods. This means neighborhoods where most people are poor.

Living in a very poor area means many unfortunate outcomes. It means schools are most likely underfunded and understaffed, making it difficult to get a good education. It means violence and crime is likely to be higher and thus easier to take part in. This simply means that for a poor black child growing up in a poor black area, it is incredibly difficult to achieve any upward mobility and ascend out of poverty and crime.

Combine that with the higher incarceration and high stop-and-frisk rates, you have a recipe for high crime rates among a minority group. To underscore that, black and white crime rates in middle and upper class neighborhoods remain the same.

This was no accident. During the Jim Crow era America was systematically set up to segregate black people to ghettos in which they were not given proper access to education, health care and food.

When you think about racism in America, it is important to remember that our society was fundamentally constructed out of slavery and then segregation. Yes we, as society, agree that racism is bad today but that does not mean that the systematic issues which have plagued our country since its inception have somehow been eradicated.

If you are white and reading this, I urge you to consider these facts. Saying that you have white privilege does not mean that you are somehow a bad person or have led an easy life; it simply means that these statistics don’t apply to you. You do not have to worry about being discriminated against based on your race from employers, realtors, police and justices. It means that you have not had to contend with the systematic oppression of your race throughout your lifetime.

Christin Howard is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

23 Comments

23 Responses to “The myth of eradicated racism: A proof of the existence of white privilege”

  1. UncleThom on September 14th, 2016 9:59 am

    As long as someone blames “whitey” for their problems, they will *always* be bought and paid for slaves.

  2. mike constitution on September 14th, 2016 10:46 am

    Democrats are monsters.
    They support politicians and policies that cause great harm to Americans.
    To support Hillary Clinton is to support the status quo of debt, despair, poverty, weakness, and violence that is the legacy of the Obama administration.
    The most deplorable thing, though, is what they are doing to minority Americans in our major cities.
    From Barack Obama to Black Lives Matter to Colin Kaepernick, their promotion of the myth that police are oppressors is getting people killed.
    Here is Chicago year to date:
    Shot & Killed: 473
    Shot & Wounded: 2582
    Total Shot: 3055
    Total Homicides: 527
    Black: 77.7%
    Hispanic: 17.1%
    White/Other: 5.2%
    One would think from all the rhetoric and protests that most of these would be police-involved shootings, right?
    Wrong, only 18 of the 3,055 shootings involved police with 6 killed and 12 wounded.
    In effect, black leadership, black role models, and white liberals, for purely political reasons, smear the only force for good in these inner-city hell-holes, the police.
    Until they address this mass-slaughter they enable and perpetuate, Democrats have no standing to accuse anyone of racism.
    Democrats are monsters.

  3. chicken on September 14th, 2016 10:50 am

    Let’s start with job discrimination. A study published by John Nunley, Nicholas Romero, Richard Seals and Adam Pugh for the Auburn University Department of Economics found that job applicants with “black sounding names” were a whopping 16 percent less likely to get called in to interview for a job than their white counterparts, even when their resumes were otherwise identical.

    Did it ever occur to you that there is government sponsored racism that hinders blacks because hiring a black is no longer like hiring a white. Hiring blacks can mean a racism lawsuit. Whites are not shielded by government racial rules as blacks and other minorities are and a small or medium sized company that hires a black leaves themselves open to lawsuits and bankruptcy due to government policies. This is not racism per se, it is self defense against government policy.

  4. chicken on September 14th, 2016 10:52 am

    Housing discrimination is also an issue. A new report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that when searching for a new home to rent, black people are shown 17 percent fewer available homes than white people.

    Do they have the same assets and credit ratings?

    Stop playing with Stats to find victims.

  5. Mike Danger on September 14th, 2016 10:52 am

    The error in your thinking centers around making this about race instead of socioeconomic status. Wealthy people have privilege while poor people do not. There are many wealthy, educated, successful black families who enjoy the privileges you cite while there are poor, uneducated white families who suffer the same disadvantages as poor black families. Culture, not race, is the limiting factor.

    Despite 50+ years of affirmative action many if not most blacks continue to lag behind their white counterparts largely because of “multiculturalism”. Dr. King advanced “integration” as the solution to segregation and his use of the word implies a monocultural solution. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Dr. King envisioned a day when race would become as irrelevant as hair color as an indicator of one’s character. Dr. King’s solution implies black families integrating/assimilating into mainstream American culture as has all previous immigrates integrated/assimilated.

    Multiculturalism implies separate but equal cultures. See Plessy vs Ferguson!! By promoting the concept of White Privilege you are only encouraging resistance to the implementation of Dr. King’s solution. You are further antagonizing irrelevant grievances that is delaying the implementation of Dr. King’s solution.

    Furthermore the implication that White Privilege exists suggests applying a negative connotation to an entire Race without discrimination which is itself bigoted and racist. Fostering a racist concept will not alleviate any prevailing racism and only adds to the delay in implementing Dr. King’s solution.

    The Black sub-culture must adapt by discarding it’s dysfunctional aspects and adapting the positive aspects of the mainstream culture while sharing and enriching mainstream culture with it’s unique characteristics. That is Dr. King’s solution…

  6. chicken on September 14th, 2016 10:58 am

    The biggest issue is the hugely disproportionate numbers of black citizens (especially black males) who are currently incarcerated. According to the Bureau of Justice, in 2009 black people accounted for 39.4 percent of the prison population while whites accounted for only 34 percent. Blacks make up only 12.3 percent of the American population while whites make up a 63 percent. This means that the incarceration rate for black people is over six times higher than that of white people.

    iFACT 3. Despite making up just 13% of the population, blacks committed half of homicides in the United States for nearly 30 years.

    DOJ statistics show that between 1980 and 2008, black people committed 52% of homicides.

    In 2013, black criminals committed 38% of the murders. Whites accounted for just 31 percent.

    There are five times fewer black people than white people in America and, yet, they consistently carry out a larger share of the crimes

    Look at the government stats.

    Be aware though, there is some stat cooking. Latinos become whites in some stats and become Hispanics in others.

  7. chicken on September 14th, 2016 11:01 am

    Additionally, 15 percent of all inmates in the United States are jailed on drug-related offenses. Of this 15 percent, 32.6 percent is white and 38.4 percent is black. Again, when adjusted for differences in black and white population, black people are six times more likely to get arrested and incarcerated for drug offenses.
    Almost half of these drug arrests are due to marijuana. According to a 2010 study by the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse and Health, despite the fact that marijuana use among blacks and whites remains constant, black people are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white peers.

    Because when pulled over, blacks are more likely to 1) have a previous offense, 2) be armed, 3) fight the arrest. All three of these issues will pile on charges and increase incarceration rates. Whites typically submit.

  8. SteveinAZ on September 14th, 2016 11:28 am

    “White Privilege” in America in 2016 equals “Jew Privilege” in Germany in 1936. All this talk of “White Privilege” is occurring now as a pre-justification for future government sanctions and/or violent action against whites. Don’t, however, count on whites to be passive and climb into government-provided boxcars. Perhaps that’s why the 2nd Amendment is so feared by totalitarians.

  9. snafubar on September 14th, 2016 1:39 pm

    Many corporations are dying to hire qualified black and minority men and women. There has never been a better time in America for people of color to get ahead and make a fantastic living. Yet most reject education, and idolize sports or music stars; they call an educated black man an Uncle Tom.

    Your entire premise is wrong.

  10. David Hunt 1990 on September 14th, 2016 2:08 pm

    Who set up the despicable Jim Crow laws? DEMOCRATS. Who enacted marriage licenses to keep blacks from marrying whites? DEMOCRATS. Who passed “the Great Society” to sunder black families, get them hooked on welfare, to create a “vote pump” to keep them hooked on Uncle Sugar’s welfare crack? DEMOCRATS.

  11. Alana Forsyth on September 14th, 2016 7:08 pm

    Is white privilege the reason that blacks are self-segregating on college campuses lately?

  12. Greg Miller on September 14th, 2016 9:00 pm

    I think you should look at a book. It provides answers to all of your questions. It is “The Bell Curve”, by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray. Every time I hear or read about complaints like those in your well thought out article that highlight inequality, I remember the root cause is IQ inequality. Those with less become angry and frustrated that they cannot understand those with more. It’s not about racial inequality (which does strongly correlate), it’s not about socioeconomic inequality (with is a consequence), it is all about IQ inequality. And there are no remedies short of a complete blending of the races.

  13. Walter Cronkite on September 15th, 2016 10:05 am

    Argument. Refuted. And then some…

    Very eloquent and intelligent rebuttals indeed, and responses that ought to have the author re-examining his/her beliefs. Or at the very least, his/her research methods.

    While one of the more well-written op-eds in recent years, this is a perfect learning opportunity for the author. The comments above demonstrate that there is so much more to this topic than the simplistic, distorted nonsense bandied about on college campuses and encouraged by professors. It’s not your fault, this has been going on since the 1970s, ever since the Woodstock hippies realized they could make a bourgeois living while living out their teenage fantasies indefinitely. The problem is that this movement has infected 2 generations of people with a perverted (mis) understanding of their own nation and its history, but also have no tools to evaluate current events as they really are.

    Get used to it. There is no utopia. Could our society be more fair, more equal? Perhaps. The only countries that do, if they even exist, are almost 100% uni-cultural, so that kind of presents a problem for the “We Are the World” crowd. As those countries fracture (read: Scandanavia), human nature takes over and people protect what’s theirs. The fact is, whatever political system exists, there will be WINNERS, and there will be LOSERS. Doesn’t matter from our system to the worst dictatorship on earth. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as equal footing for everyone. What our system allows that others do not is that the truly extraordinary, regardless of size, color, shape, ethnicity, etc. has the opportunity to rise to the top of their respective field. America is filled with such examples in all walks of life and is wholly unique in that regard. Everyone else is basically widgets on an assembly line, so you’ll forgive poor and middle class white folk (not to mention Asians, Latinos or anyone else) for failing to obsess over the “oppression” of the black man. People are too busy trying to eke out a living.

  14. David Hunt 1990 on September 15th, 2016 12:58 pm

    @Walter Cronkite:

    Of COURSE the author will not reconsider her views.

    The author is a Type II mind – like most liberals – unable to assimilate information that doesn’t already match their cognitive template. In my experience, liberals are the most closed-minded, fossilized intellects around. And they’re that wonderful, magic combination of extraordinary ignorance plus overweening arrogance that they’re 1) informed and 2) more moral people.

  15. David Hunt 1990 on September 15th, 2016 12:59 pm

    Of course, the dirty little secret is that – sadly – racism does exist… just like there are people who think Elvis is still alive.

  16. UMass Alumni parent on September 15th, 2016 11:10 pm

    This column is the typical result of indoctrination by the leftist faculty on campus. In academia and the business world there are ample opportunities for African Americans to prosper and advance. The new mantra, “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” is a code word for preferential treatment, and reverse discrimination that primarily affects less affluent whites. Blaming whitey does nothing to advance African Americans.The concept of white privilege is a proverbial gold mine for leftist academics who have nothing original to say. It is has spurred an industry for diversity consultants, and is not helping minorities who are seriously interested in excelling. Beyond the bubble of the Five Colleges, most Americans (even in liberal Massachusetts) do not buy this nonsense.

  17. George S. Patton on September 16th, 2016 11:51 am

    The Collegian is luck to have David Hunt as a contributor. I hope that the student body takes time to consider his always informative and extremely well-thought out posts.

    I concur with UMASS Alumni Parent regarding diversity. Diversity as practiced and discussed over these past 20-30 years essentially means inclusion of various racial and cultural groups, just for the sake of having a wider spectrum of color and viewpoints. What diversity means to me is a wide spectrum of thought, talent, work habits, etc. The business world has actually integrated this view of diversity quite efficiently. Sort of like the athletic world. In an advanced economy, the only interest is whether you have talent, vision, drive, execution and so forth. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you look like or what religion you follow. Just like on the ballfield. In our small company, we are truly a melting pot of Americans. The leadership includes people of European, Middle Eastern and South American descent. Several faiths and multliple nationalities are represented. But we didn’t do this to become the United Nations. We hired people that we believe will be a good fit for the specific positions available. The professionals in question all meet that criteria and then some.

    THAT is what diversity should be based on, not the simple fact of one’s color, ethnic group, religion or current state of real or imagined oppression. It is what bothered me most about UMass then and what continues to irritate me about the place now. All this railing about oppression and privilege and no emphasis on excellence, results, innovation and hard work.

    Somebody on the Collegian staff please write an article explaining why diversity as it is practiced and taught at the university, is a good thing? Hasn’t it actually been an abject and divisive failure? Blacks have been self-segregating at UMass since before I was there. Freedom of speech has been curtailed by an atmosphere of intolerance (due to one prevailing viewpoint) and this safe-spaces nonsense. All of this has not only been tolerated by the administration, but actively fostered by it. And so the UMass experience is in many ways as much segregated and one-dimensional as it ever was.

  18. Another UMASS parent on September 18th, 2016 11:57 pm

    Obviously some / most if the responses to this article are reactionary – and written by white people. In the rush to defend a racist point if view many have completely missed the point.
    This article is about understanding a concept and a phrase that is used today and in fact often misused and mis understood. The point is simple: when you live as a member of the ‘norm’ in a particular category you will not be fully able to recognize the “convenience” / “normative quality” of your life in that area.
    Here’s a non racial example. I grew up surrounded by a Jeudeo- Christian culture. It was the ‘norm’. Thus events like seeing Easter candy and having Christmas being a legal holiday were assumed to have meaning to everyone. But for the person who did not have a personal/ familial connection with these or the Jewish holiday or a concept of God at all these elements still possessed great power.
    Obviously race is different but the point is that the author seemed to be trying to open a conversation about this aspect if the experience of someone who is not part of the norm.
    I congratulate the attempt at a conversation that asks of us to try to look through eyes other than our own.

  19. David Hunt 1990 on September 19th, 2016 9:31 am

    @George S. Patton:

    That’s cash, in small bills, right? 🙂

  20. David Hunt 1990 on September 20th, 2016 10:27 am

    @Mike Danger:

    Well said.

    DEMOCRATS destroyed the black family through the “Great Society”. Then, in a Goebbels-esque BIG LIE, they convinced blacks that it was the Republican’s fault.

    Fortunately, SOME blacks are waking up.

    http://www.thelasttradition.com/2016/09/black-people-democrats-have-failed-us.html

    http://www.thelasttradition.com/2016/09/fool-me-once-shame-on-you-fool-me-for.html

    And it’s not just individuals who are waking up.

    http://www.barenakedislam.com/2016/09/12/it-is-becoming-increasingly-apparent-that-donald-trump-is-getting-more-support-from-black-americans-than-any-other-republican-candidate-for-president-ever-has/

    One CANNOT simultaneously scream about wanting equality, but then keep pointing to one’s color.

    Ultimately, so much of the problems blacks have in society can be found, boiled down into this Booker T. Washington quote:

    “There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”

    Next time you see Je$$e Jack$son or Al $harpton or even his Regal Majesty, Imperious Barackus Rex, out there… remember the above.

    ===

    @chicken:

    The real issue is WHY.

    The answer, of course, is the INTENTIONAL destruction of the black family in order to create an underclass of dependent voters. A lack of fathers, coupled with a culture of promiscuity deliberately fostered and pushed, creates a population of lab rats who exchange a pulled voting lever every two years for “free” housing, health care, and food.

    Blacks are a proud, capable people. It is a crying shame to see the level to which Democrat policies have reduced them.

    ===

    @snafubar:

    Spot on. People CHOOSE. That is, perhaps, our defining trait. People make choices. The problem is that so many wish to deny admitting the consequences of their choices… or have others pay for them.

    ===

    @Greg Miller:

    I completely disavow the idea that blacks are inferior. I firmly believe that I can take a black child, raise them in a middle-class home wtih stable parents and environment, and they will flower and blossom just as well as a white – or any other – child would.

    It is CULTURE, instilled from the moment they open their eyes, that is the driver here.

    ===

    @Another UMASS parent:

    You want racism, go to Europe. Or Asia. Or Russia.

    My wife is from overseas; the country where she came from is OVERTLY racist towards people of her color. It’s open; it’s like air, it’s there. Over there they use their equivalent of the N-word OPENLY; here, I wouldn’t even type it let alone speak it.

    In fact, one of the things her relatives said, when visiting, is how people here – of different races and religions – get along so well. They were amazed.

    I repeat my earlier quote: Is there racism in America? Yes. Are there people who still think Elvis is alive, or that aliens built the pyramid, or that the earth is hollow? Also yes.

    Stop measuring reality against the unattainable standard of your fantasies and work WITH YOUR FELLOW AMERICANS rather than whining that things aren’t straight out of John Lennon’s “Imagine”.

  21. David Hunt 1990 on September 20th, 2016 11:54 am

    Here’s a damning video commentary… by a black man.

    Video: Why is Everyone Afraid to Discuss Black Violence?
    http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/video-why-everyone-afraid-discuss-black-violence

    It’s the culture, it’s the culture, it’s the culture. It’s the culture of fatherlessness, the culture of dependency, the culture of operant-conditioned inferiority and blame-everyone-else mentality.

  22. David Hunt 1990 on September 21st, 2016 9:34 am

    Here’s another commentary, again by a black man:

    The Top 5 Issues Facing Black Americans

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faolY5_hnIc

  23. David Hunt 1990 on September 21st, 2016 10:48 am

    It’s the culture, it’s the culture, it’s the culture… as poisoned by decades of DEMOCRAT “Good Intentions” which – I will argue – were enacted DELIBERATELY to create a subclass totally dependent on government and who would be operant-conditioned to pull the voting lever for Democrats in exchange for pellets and a cage, er, EBT cards and Section 8 housing.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faolY5_hnIc
    ** Title: The Top 5 Issues Facing Black Americans
    >> Related:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAQ5W7sSv1g
    ** Title: 30 years of liberal policies more damaging to blacks than slavery – Thomas Sowell
    >> Thomas Sowell – a man I absolutely admire. And another video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TY1_UWMy83c
    >> Title: Black People Fail Because Their Culture Promotes Failure Thomas Sowell; and related, a 2+ hour one, again by Thomas Sowell, on slavery:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnJfR70n6k0
    The real history of slavery”. | 2005 (Thomas Sowell)

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