The conversation of white privilege is becoming more commonly discussed. Even Bill O’Reilly has addressed the topic. On the one hand, this is good news. If we are to dismantle white privilege we certainly need to know what it is. However, there’s another side to how these conversations are happening that perhaps isn’t as beneficial as it could be. There were two recent articles about discussing white privilege in private schools that illustrate the positive and negative aspects to how we go about engaging in this discussion.
From the NYTimes
Reading both I can’t help but think about how human nature will have us deal with our problems, yet not really transform it. We sometimes create elaborate ways to avoid taking actions around our issues. Often at first attempt we will deny the issue. We’re all familiar with denial and how well that works out (please read the sarcasm). Then perhaps we’ll be comfortable enough with it to talk about it and we may even make jokes about it. This is a bit like ironic racism. You may have noticed this happening at the 2015 Oscars. Finally, one of our last efforts at looking at our problems while refusing to do anything about it is through deep analysis. We become absolute experts on our problems. We have diagnosed the problem, we may even know the complicated vocabulary around it, and we sound very intelligent about our problems. Still, there are no actions taken in terms of eradicating the problem. I’m hoping the beginning discussions around white privilege will convert to actionable problem solving in the near future.