Nate Galt | United States
Much of the current political discussion surrounds the controversial topic of privilege – many believe that the white race has more privileges than people of color do, and others believe that straight people are better off in society than homosexuals. While those categories may make one privileged at a certain place and time, there is no bigger privilege than wealth. Wealth, universally, gives someone opportunities and offers them more possibilities. If they happen to be a billionaire who is a transgender, lesbian, African-American woman, they are infinitely more privileged than a heterosexual white homeless man. The privilege of wealth trumps any other supposed notion of privilege.
“White privilege” is a term used by those who label themselves “progressive” or as a crusader for “social justice”, to say that white people have many privileges that non-whites do not have. This phrase can also be combined with “male privilege,” “straight privilege,” or “cisgender privilege.” A popular talking point in their circles is that statistically, being white reduces your risk of being shot by a police officer and being male reduces your chances of being raped. While these statistics are certainly true, minimizing those chances does not indicate privilege. Special programs that encourage gender and racial diversity in the classroom and in the workplace have been created. One such program, Affirmative Action, decreases the chances of a white man getting accepted into college. Men are approximately three times more likely to be homeless than women are, and are at a higher risk of committing suicide. One group is not more privileged than another; each group has its own hardships.
A notable “progressive” description of white privilege appeared as a musical skit on the A.B.C. channel on Australian television. The segment depicts two people trying to cross a stream. One person, who is said to be a straight white man who speaks English and was born in a peaceful nation, waits with a woman who the writers say cannot speak English, has dark skin, and is a refugee. The segment shows the methods that each person uses to cross the rapid. The writers say that since the white man is inherently privileged because of the color of his skin, he uses teleportation to get across. The skit then shows the woman swimming across the stream and then getting sick. The lyrics of the segment say that because she is female, cannot speak English in an English-speaking country, and has brown skin, she has to swim across the stream. As a result, she catches a cold. This description of privilege could be no further from the truth. The justification for the man using teleportation is that he has certain privilege that the woman does not. Not all heterosexual white men have privileges that darker-skinned refugee women do not. The deciding factor of who has or does not have privilege is wealth and/or material possessions. LeBron James, a multimillionaire African-American legendary basketball player, has many more doors open for him than an impoverished white man. Even if James were to become transgender and subsequently come out as a homosexual, he would still have privilege that the aforementioned poor white man would not.
Phrases such as “white privilege” are extremely divisive rhetoric. Implying that someone is privileged because of their sex, sexual orientation, or the color of their skin will divide people into several distinct groups at odds with each other. Instead of uniting one another and saying that no matter who we are, we are fellow Americans, some keep pushing identity politics. Our country is already divided into two distinct camps as a result of the congressional duopoly of Democrats and Republicans. Dividing the United States of America any further could cause an inseparable rift.
Political discourse must move away from “white privilege” or any other category which is not based on wealth. The wealthy, no matter their skin color or their gender, are incredibly more privileged than a poor person of any race. Every group has their hardships that society should work to fix. We, as a community, should combat these struggles together. Preaching identity politics in the name of fighting nonexistent “white privilege” will only drive us farther apart.
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