Simple comic strip explains the complexities of white privilege


Of the many complexities of white privilege this comic strip does not adequately explain, one is that every conversation on the topic turns into the discussion of someone's personal history. Is there a comic explaining how to explain the concept of white privilege?


Yeah, that sucks. But we all gots problems, man. I mean, you know how much it sucks to grow up poor, to have to rely on taxpayers - why wouldn't you want to band together with folks who know that suffering too, and try to change it? Why wouldn't you see what you can do (which might not be much!) to help them, too? My internet pity isn't going to change your scenario, but maybe an ally in your locale can.

I mean, no one's demanding a flogging, and self-pity doesn't do much good. Maybe all you can do is comment on BB posts - there's ways to make that, better, too! (for instance: acknowledging that privelege doesn't mean you haven't suffered to whatever inevitable poster posits that "they got problems, too!")

Yeah, those little things are not a bad start.


I would suggest that the absolute least thing you could do about the problem is not to suggest to a bunch of people talking about systemic racism that "Life just isn't fair" and "where's my free pass?"

No one's asking you to "shoulder" anything. They are suggesting that you recognize that (assuming you are white) even though you were poor you still had advantages over poor black people. If you've been on the receiving end of government subsidy, don't (for example) claim "did anybody help me out? No. No." ( )


It seems you partially get it.
It's not about feeling bad, or feeling guilty or being a crybaby.
This cartoon and things like it don't make me feel those things, but they do remind me to feel fortunate as well as making sure I have and promote empathy.
Then there is the obvious - pointing out to deniers that these things are real.

As an aside, I was looking at a company profile on their website today (big company, well known) after being sent there by a recruiter. The "leadership" page is 100 percent middle aged white guys. Think that's just coincidence?
Look at the leadership pages of 10 random Fortune 500 companies and see what you find.


How The Irish Became White is a good (though not entirely perfect, and pretty academic) primer on this transformation, if one isn't familiar.


It's not generalizing about white people, it's generalizing about a system of privileges.


Stop bringing poetry into this!


I've been meaning to get to this for a while now:


This is why I say people who claim to be self sufficient are full of shit, so much so that it has blinded them from seeing the times they were helped. Everyone gets help at some point in their life, they fall on hard times, manage to catch a break, and sometimes recover.


I should have worded that more carefully. Please let us know about a place that "majority group holds basic human equality as a value" In other words, a place where not belonging to the predominate group is not a disadvantage.


Hmmmmm . . . you should probably think about that a little more. If everyone is afforded the same rights under the law, but one group is systematically denied those rights, then it is a de facto privilege whether it fits the dictionary definition or not (it will surely seem like a privilege to those who have their rights denied.) You are playing a game with semantics.

Or to put it another way: if at the start of a foot race everyone lines up at the starting line, but then the referee moves one runner back ten meters before he fires the starting gun, is that a "privilege" the other runners get? Whether it is a privilege or not, the effect is the same as letting them move ten meters forward first. Handicapping one person is the same as privileging everyone else.


From my observation there are more than one camp on this issue. There are people who want acknowledgment, and there are those who want more. They want to lay blame. They want you to feel guilty. They want to lump you into those who do actively discriminate. There are even groups who feel you owe them something. That turns people off and it leads to denial. It is a pretty human response when someone wants to blame you for something you didn't do for you to react aggressively in the opposite manner. Which of course can lead to bad things. Combined with the fact that the issue tends to be politicized and then you have people taking sides purely based on affiliation with no reflection or analysis.


I understand and acknowledge white privilege. It exists.

That said, until you can draw a cartoon that explains it to poor working class whites with a foreclosed house, I don't think its a great frame for explaining the effects of racism. When a couple centuries of privilege have amounted to not much and current economics are taking that little away from you, it's not easy to understand why you need to give up all your "privilege". As many of the comment mention, racism has a detrimental effect on whites as it divides them from potential allies in fighting for a system that is more fare for the poor. It also divides up working class markets making it harder to be a small business owner in those markets. The idea that whites are doing better on average because of racism strikes me as false conclusion.

Also, the idea that its a "privilege" not to be arrested for simple drug possession seems backwards


The problem I have with this cartoon (and the concept of white privilege in general) is that it isn't really clear in the examples whether the person is benefiting from racism, or merely having the kind of opportunities in life they might be expected to have whether or not racism existed. Take the example of the mortgage loan - if that's an example of a benefit from racism - then the person COULDN'T have gotten a mortgage loan without racism - otherwise the relationship between getting the loan and racism is coincidental rather than causally related. The same with a career - if having a career is a benefit of racism, then it would not be possible for Bob or any of his family to have a career without racism.

This leads to the conclusion that IF Bob has benefited from racism, and the situation were righted, ideally he or his descendants would be unemployed, homeless or living in substandard housing, or in jail.

Against that, you could argue that Bob and his family have simply had the kind of rights (not privileges) that any decent society owes all it citizenry, whereas the black characters in the cartoon have been denied those rights due to racism. If you regard having access to decent housing, careers, equitable treatment from the police, and so forth, as PRIVILEGES, then if follows that not everybody will have access to them. Regard those things as benefits of racism, then somebody would have to lose out on them when racism is taken out of the equation; it is worth noting that adherents of the notion of decent housing/careers/police treatment as privilege rarely advocate that they themselves actually lose these privileges, rather that they continue to enjoy them, whilst maintaining the additional sanctimonious high of "being aware of one's privilege". If these things are privileges and benefits of racism, then GIVE THEM BACK. Quit your job (that somebody else should have had by right), sell your possessions, burn your college qualifications, and move to an impoverished neighborhood.

Or, consider the possibly that because group A suffers from racism, it doesn't follow that Group B necessarily benefits from it; Group B would only benefit if it acquires something that it couldn't (or shouldn't) over-wise have gotten.


Yes. That has been studied.


Exactly. Every single morning I wake up and feel fortunate.
Anyone living a solid middle class life or better should, if they don't there's something fundamentally wrong with them.


We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all [hu]men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The majority group holds that value, or at least would self-identify as holding that value.

The majority group often fails to adhere to that value in practice, so of course, that is the Work to Be Done. Presumably, it is work that the majority group should welcome, as it would allow them to better adhere to the values they claim to have.


True, those do exist, but in MY observation, they are not in the majority, if you will.
Although they wind up in the right wing echo machine like crazy.. Just like welfare queens and panhandlers - fodder for John Stossel.


Exactly. That's what "trend" means: every single possible instance fits the model.


it sort of ignores the possibility that excluding racial minorities from full status in our economy hasn't reduced the number of jobs and therefore that the end of systems of exclusion wouldn't mean the exact same of better job for both individuals.