Denying White Privilege Has an Evidence Problem

If I had to guess, I suspect Bill O’Reilly fancies himself more akin to George Will, Newt Gingrich, or Cal Thomas than Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. But speculating on that self-delusion isn’t really necessary because the reality is that all of these white, male pundits share a single quality: privilege.

And thus, it is all the more baffling when O’Reilly holds forth on denying privilege, prompting Charles Blow to conclude perfectly: “Only a man bathing in privilege would be blind to that.”

The “that” to which O’Reilly is blind, of course, is his own privilege built on his being white and male.

It is there that self-delusion is powerful, rendering O’Reilly and his fellow white-male punditry incapable of seeing their self-delusion; thus we have some perverse inversion of Ralph Ellison’s narrator confronting his own invisibility because he is black.

To deny privilege garnered from being a white male reminds me of the same sort of delusion found among Libertarians who champion their rugged individualism—”I did it on my own!”—while remaining incapable of seeing that no one does anything on “her/his own.”

No one.

There is likely a tremendous amount of low self-esteem lurking beneath these white, male pundits who hold forth on anything with a gusto found mostly among 15-year-old boys. In fact, these white, male pundits are essentially suffering arrested development.

And the really ugly truth is that as long as white males dominate U.S. culture in terms of power and wealth, that dynamic creates an echo chamber in which blind-but-loud pundits like O’Reilly speak to the actual and the normalized white male essence of the country.

It is nearly as tiring and cannot be unrelated: We must become so weary of young black males being slaughtered in our country that we do something about it—for and with them, and not to them—and we must also become weary of a ruling elite born on third base (white, male) and confusing that with hitting a triple.

I am sick to my bones with a country that demonizes the powerless while worshipping the privileged.

I am sick to my bones with a country that will not see the human value of its children.

I am sick to my bones with a country that allows the list of names simply to grow: Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Michael Brown …

And I am sick to my bones with a country that creates wealth and celebrity for toxic white males.

It’s inexcusable, it’s embarrassing.

It’s exhausting to repeat, but necessary: we need a moratorium on white men pontification on race, class, and gender.

See Also

Denying Racism Has an Evidence Problem

The Mistrial of Jordan Davis: More Evidence Problems for Denying Racism

From Baldwin to Coates: Denying Racism, Ignoring Evidence

Denying Impact of Poverty Has an Evidence Problem

2 comments

  1. Johan Hoeff

    I, personally, do not deny ‘white prvilege’, it consists, mostly, of a long history of compettive excellence, social and cultural integration with a common people, and a knowledge of shared interests with a common experience.

    It is a false-dichotomy, to presuppose equality, based on different cultural norms, or social/racial constructs, and to hold your own ‘brothers’ to a false, and misleading equality-norming, that lifts up the ‘others’, while limiting and bringing white males down – based on the ‘percetption’ of mitigating the angst of non-white males.

    The balancing act of racial equality will, sooner or later, be drawn to one side or the other.

    Then what?

    • Nicole Brown

      AMEN! How many times do people of color have to point out what you just said and have it fall on deaf ears, (ears belonging to those white men in power of course) and have nothing done? Bravo, I completely agree with you. From within the ranks of white men is where change will actually occur, and I’m so glad you posted your thoughts and feelings because it resonates loudly. You’re probably familiar with Tim Wise then? It is the truth to me as a Black woman but the truth to other sensible white folks out there who we consider our allies and friends. The truth really lies in the quote above that explains privilege is invisible to those who have it. I would even push the guy who responded to your post who basically said one group at the helm of the power struggle will be replaced by another group when ousted–then what? My response would be that is a statement from a place of privilege because the question inherently points to something “lost” from such a social change. Only people who suffer under oppression would see gains rather than loses with the removal of those in power who are stepping on their necks and committing slow genocide–there is no “loss” to them other than inaction. To ask the question, well what’s the point of social change if one group will be supplanted by another? is a cop out and implicitly siding with the same power structure that oppresses multiple groups of HUMAN BEINGS.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s