“What’s the matter?
It’s the same distance!”
So this guy said to Professor Hunk, “White privilege is nonsense. How can I be privileged? I grew up fucking poor in West Virginia. I’m an Appalachian hick. My family is on welfare.” Right. But privilege is always relative to something else. Now imagine someone like him, as poor and as fucked up, and then make that person black. If both are caught for drug possession, say, the white guy is more likely to be sent to treatment and the black guy is more likely to be sent to jail. Everything else the same except for race. Check the stats. The Appalachian hick guy is fucked up, which is not cool, but if he were black, he’d be fucked up plus. He also said to Professor Hunk: Why must we always talk about race anyway? Can’t we just be human beings? And Professor Hunk replied—that is exactly what white privilege is, that you can say that. Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don’t have that choice. The black guy on the street in New York doesn’t want to think about race, until he tries to hail a cab, and he doesn’t want to think about race when he’s driving his Mercedes under the speed limit, until a cop pulls him over. So Appalachian hick guy doesn’t have class privilege but he sure as hell has race privilege. What do you think? Weigh in, readers, and share your experiences, especially if you are non-black.
PS—Professor Hunk just suggested I post this, a test for White Privilege, copyright a pretty cool womancalled Peggy McIntosh. If you answer mostly no, then congratulations, you have white privilege. What’s the point of this you ask? Seriously? I have no idea. I guess it’s just good to know. So you can gloat from time to time, lift you up when you’re depressed, that sort of thing. So here goes:
When you want to join a prestigious social club, do you wonder if your race will make it difficult for you to join?
When you go shopping alone at a nice store, do you worry that you will be followed or harassed?
When you turn on mainstream TV or open a mainstream newspaper, do you expect to find mostly people of another race?
Do you worry that your children will not have books and school materials that are about people of their own race?
When you apply for a bank loan, do you worry that, because of your race, you might be seen as financially unreliable?
If you swear, or dress shabbily, do you think that people might say this is because of the bad morals or the poverty or the illiteracy of your race?
If you do well in a situation, do you expect to be called a credit to your race? Or to be described as “different” from the majority of your race?
If you criticize the government, do you worry that you might be seen as a cultural outsider? Or that you might be asked to “go back to X,” X being somewhere not in America?
If you receive poor service in a nice store and ask to see “the person in charge,” do you expect that this person will be a person of another race?
If a traffic cop pulls you over, do you wonder if it is because of your race?
If you take a job with an Affirmative Action employer, do you worry that your co-workers will think you are unqualified and were hired only because of your race?
If you want to move to a nice neighborhood, do you worry that you might not be welcome because of your race?
If you need legal or medical help, do you worry that your race might work against you?
When you use the “nude” color of underwear and Band-Aids, do you already know that it will not match your skin?
(Americanah, page 429)