This comic makes privilege incredibly easy to understand


#1

[Read the post]


#2

yes, this!


#3

The strip is good!

One thing that I want to see more of in convos about privilege is the idea that “doing OK” doesn’t mean you’re spoiled and wealthy or that you never had to work for anything. I think folks get defensive whenever they see their “privilege” depicted as a kid who gets hand-outs and then ignores them (“I’m different! I’ve never had enough to afford a plate of oysters!”). While some of that is totally out there, I think most privileges are invisible because while they make life easier, they don’t magically remove obstacle or struggle from it.

Most Richards see themselves as Paulas. I think some work needs to be done to show people why the are Richards, even though they had to work a part-time job to put themselves through college or had a sick parent or whatever.


#4

What’s missing here is that Richard is repeating what he’s been taught, primarily by his parents, which means the lesson is deeply ingrained. It’s possible to challenge Richard’s belief that he’s entirely responsible for his own success, but the lesson has been so well-learned that Richard will probably need to see some material benefit to convince him to change how he sees and treats Paula.


#5

Thank you, great comic that makes its point in effective ways. And I agree that the ending is the best part.

So much (maybe all?) “cultural capital” is entirely unrecognized for what it is by those lucky enough to have it.


#6

Kind of a simplistic view. Of course the reality is so varied and individual stories so different you can’t distill it down to one web comic.

ETA - You know I am looking at this from a different way. If we look at it from the angle of someone with advantages vs disadvantages it makes a lot of sense and good general example.

Where it falls apart, and perhaps this is my fault and me reading into it, is assuming whole races, classes, cultures, groups, tribes, etc fall clearly into one column and not the other.


#7

Love the last frame!


#8

Sure you can. “You are not special. Your achievements are overwhelmingly due to the circumstances of your rearing. Don’t be a jerk to those who weren’t as lucky.” Bingo.


#9

It makes the easiest understood kind of privilege easy to understand. I find the most indignant denials of privilege come from people telling stories of how they or their parents (or some generation) earned their privilege from nothing–which most families in the U.S. can claim. This is common for white people, especially, from poverty backgrounds who condemn current programs that support the advancement of historically disadvantaged people of color. It’s much harder to show how rags-to-riches anecdotes of earning wealth and climbing the social ladder perpetuate and sustain class differences–and how pride in wealth often hinges on personal narratives of overcoming barriers that keep others down. Try adding the complexities of race, gender, sexuality, nationality and religious identity to that and you start getting into a really funky plate of oysters.


#10

Kind of a simplistic view. Of course the reality is so varied and individual stories so different you can’t distill it down to one web comic.

Or one essay. Or one song. Or one poem or painting or movie or play. Why even try, amirite?

Wow.


#11

Privilege is an interesting subject to dissect.

I am a well spoken, 6’2" fairly handsome white male. I also dress in tweed, and look scholarly even though I am a college dropout. The moment I enter a room people listen to me.

I have a friend that is similar except he is short and black. He is always dismissed at first glance, till he opens his mouth. He is a much, much better orator than I am (and I’m good).

It really drove home, like a lighting bolt, how much easier I have it than others. All I have to do is show up. Others have to Prove themselves. And it makes me sick that I also have those subconscious biases.


#12

Yes, trying to address all or even several forms of oppression at once in a comic (or other media) can be difficult, but I still think it can be illuminating to address them one by one.


#13

That’s pretty awesome! And I agree that it’s worth trying, and that any light on this topic is worth shining, even on the easy parts.


#14

Another couple of things that drag discussion of inherited advantages backwards are:
The tendency to break things into a series of binary advantaged/disadvantaged comparisons which only tends to alienate and divide people, rather than looking at the whole thing as a series of sliding scales where you could be ahead on some, behind on others (and often the people who shout loudest about the areas where they are behind, are so incredibly silent about the areas where they are not), while the overwhelming majority of us all are still vastly behind a tiny elite.

Framing someone’s own background as an unearned privilege will get through to far fewer people than engaging their empathy and saying “shouldn’t everyone get a good start in life”


#15

Very true. I was hoping we could let this comic stand as the excellent commentary it is, without starting another noisome “white privilege” thread… it seems pretty likely the artist knew what he was doing when he used the same color palette for both sides of the screen, why can’t people respect the message?

What it comes down to is that whenever people conflate privilege with a color line they are perpetuating and extending racism, not fighting it.


#16

Respectfully put.


#17

?

So you’re saying class privilege exists, but white privilege doesn’t?


#18

Well, I’m saying privilege exists, and it transcends boundaries of race (and ethnic group, and religion, and many other categories) and talking about as though it were specific to one race (when it isn’t) is not going to help anyone, and in my opinion is liable to hurt our efforts to address social inequalities.

Of course I’ve said this a hundred times now, but my dark-skinned daughter is privileged. She has far paler schoolmates who are far less privileged than she is. If people can’t wrap their minds around that, and see that privilege transcends skin color, then they are racists, whether they themselves know it or not. Hopefully they can be persuaded to give up their unthinking racism and recognize that they are perpetuating color line prejudice whenever they automatically assign an unprivileged role to a darker skinned person. Barack Obama’s daughters are privileged.

(and yes, I do believe class privilege exists… also structural racism exists… there are lots of ways to talk constructively about the problems we need to solve that don’t explicitly perpetuate racist language)


#19

Jamal applied for a job and didn’t get an interview because the interview took one look at his name, assumed he’s black, and dumped his resume.

Steve had the same qualifications AND spent time in prison for a felony. Steve got an interview, in part because the interviewer assumed he’s white, and that made him more appealing than an apparently black applicant, even with a felony.

According to widely reported research, this hypothetical situation is actually typical. It happens, a lot, simply because of not only racism against black people, but also because of favoritism for white people.

Surely white privilege is an apt term here?

Yes, class privilege can counter problems brought about by not being white. But that doesn’t mean white privilege doesn’t exist.


#20

There are different forms of privilege, right?