The Dirty Little Secret About Privilege: It’s No Secret

They hide behind hundreds of sinister little catch phrases. They tell you they are about “law and order” when they mean keeping black people in check. They tell you they are about “family values” to keep women and LGBT folk down. They complain about “quotas” to paint themselves as victims in “race baiting.” When they want to pretend to be friends of the gay and trans* people but want to hold on to the right to condemn us if it is ever needed, they call it a “lifestyle choice.” All of them want you to think they are in peril, their way of life threatened. Actually, scratch that, they want you to think they think that, when it is so clear they don’t.

“How you gon’ march to demand shit you already got?” Those were the words by the brilliant, and often harassed by the Facebook Thought Police, Son of Baldwin. You can, of course, take plenty from that just on the face of it. It is silly to demand rights you already have. The people marching in the recent White Man March, and there were comically few, are crying foul over a system that benefits them. So there is that.

There is also a deeper understanding behind SoB’s words though. Something I think some may not immediately see. So very few showed up for these marches because they knew they did not need to. There is no urgency here. They are not victims, and the dirty little secret about privilege, especially white privilege, is that it is no secret. So many of the people enjoying it, ie white people, know they have it. They may not want to say out loud, and it is really disturbing how many so-called progressives are in that bunch, but when it comes down to it, they are OK with it. Why rock the boat when you’ve got smooth sailing?

The best evidence we have for how easy it is to be white in this country is comparing two events. Look at celebrations around this country for St. Patrick’s day. Fights break out, property is damaged, and rampant public intoxication is the norm. J.N. Salters paints for us an all too familiar scene in any city when she discusses her home of Philadelphia in this post. What do you imagine the outcome would have been had a black woman urinated in the sidewalk in public? You don’t have to imagine because all you have to do is look at the second event: what happens when you are a young, black man waiting for your basketball coach.

No, these people only come out when there is a legitimate challenge to their privilege. The hetero and cis sexists have had some success getting some numbers out, though not as many as equality advocates, because there has been some real movement on LGBT rights of late, and that scares them. White people though? They know they are sitting pretty so they can sit back in their recliners. Oh they certainly will invade PoC’s safe online spaces to troll about “reverse discrimination” because that barely takes any effort. But real activism? That you only do when it is needed, and they know, deep down, that it is not. That is the ugly truth too many of us, and again too many on the left, do not want to discuss.  They don’t get off their asses because they are winning, and some of us are letting them.

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