When someone discussing any issue related to the politics of identity is told to “check his privilege,” that’s not dialogue. It’s an explicit statement that a person has nothing to say worth hearing because of his DNA.
Imagine what it must be like for students at the University of Minnesota who discovered a checklist in their dorm informing them how vital it is that they shut up:
A display in a University of Minnesota residence hall provides an 11-point “checklist” to help students identify their “white privilege.”
The “White Privilege Checklist,” found hanging in Mark G. Yudof Hall and photographed by a current student, features 11 statements that ostensibly apply exclusively to white people.
“I can arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time,” the list begins, following up with references to being able to see “people of my color” or “people of my race” in popular culture and discussions of national heritage.
The list goes on about a lot of things, many of which may be a legitimate concern, but others aren’t unique to blacks or any other ethnic group. For example, one complaint is about finding “someone who can deal with my hair” while trying to get a haircut.
As I happen to live in a majority black community, I’ve run into this one myself. Does that mean my alleged “white privilege” doesn’t really exist?
After all, several of these are simply the product of being a minority in your community rather than anything approaching racism.
One student has the right idea regarding this sign:
Evan Christenson, the student who photographed the board, told Campus Reform that he believes the display “attacks the individual and not the idea,” and doesn’t offer opportunities for dialogue about the issue.
“I do believe it crosses the line. When it attacks the individual and not the idea, there is a problem,” Christenson said. “I am not inherently racist because I don’t believe in white privilege. I believe there needs to be dialogue on the subject but it needs to more of a give and take and not a one-sided affair.”
Christenson goes on to identify himself as a social progressive, meaning this isn’t some harsh alt-righter at work here.
He also happens to be correct. Telling me I’m awful because of things other people do isn’t going to make me feel inclined to take your concerns seriously.
If you’re telling me that people judge what you purchase as being inaccurately indicative of your race, I’m willing to sympathize. But you will need to provide indisputable evidence. And when you preface this by claiming my opinions aren’t worth hearing because that doesn’t happen to me, you attack me for something I have no control over. (Yes, this example is on the list.)
Keep it up, and no one will give a flaming fart about what you feel is so wrong in the world. Which is a shame, because those people no longer willing to speak with you could have prevented you from wasting so much time on bad ideas.