For years, we’ve heard about “white privilege,” the idea that whites in the United States still receive certain (undefined) privileges that give them a leg up in the world. It’s a simple enough idea, and one that conveniently removes any and all individual responsibility for one’s current lot in life. Further, it serves to place a healthy measure of white guilt upon white folks who buy into the argument.
But as The College Fix reports, the divisive term is woefully insufficient to one time-wasting scholar:
“White priority concerns a white person’s felt conviction about herself (however egregious or misplaced, and often unconscious) that no matter the quantifiable, statistical details of her life, she is not on the very bottom run of society’s ladder,” writes Professor Shannon Sullivan.
Sullivan, department chair of the philosophy department at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, made the comments in a recent scholarly article in “Critical Philosophy of Race.”
The piece takes issue with the term “white privilege,” with Sullivan writing that it doesn’t quite hit the mark in describing the “advantages of whiteness.” But “white priority” describes a white person’s “sense of coming before someone else,” noted Sullivan, who is white.
“As a poor, struggling white person, I might not be financially privileged or very high up in social circles and many people might disparage me, but at least I’m not the lowest of the low. I come before someone else: people of color and black people in particular,” Sullivan wrote.
The article, headlined “White Priority,” was published in a special issue of “Critical Philosophy of Race” dedicated to “Race after Obama.” A listing of Sullivan’s academic papers shows she’s written on whiteness multiple times throughout her career.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m not exactly rolling in the dough. As such, I seem to be the person Sullivan is talking about here.
The thing is, I hold no such thoughts, nor does any member of my family. Neither do any of my neighbors, most of whom are struggling financially as well. Why? Well, it’s not that we think we’re really the lowest of the low, but that we don’t look at minorities as lower than us.
Because we’re good people, and not the vicious stereotype this obnoxious professor makes a career of applying to us.
Sullivan does make a valid point though. Apparently, she argues that the term “white privilege” suggests an easy life, one that many white people have never experienced. She’s right, it does. There are a lot of times when someone is prattling on about “white privilege” while clearly having lived a more privileged life than I have, which makes the whole argument laughable.
However, she’s gone off the rails with thinking that white folks look at one another in their run-down trailers and say, “Ya know, it could be worser. We’s all could be black. They’s even dirt lower than us’s.”
In reality, we see people struggling just like us. Some are working hard and just haven’t caught a lucky break. Others are dealing with misfortune. Still others are just there and have no idea what happened.
We simply see people who are struggling. Just. Like. Us.
Sullivan’s claim that we, as destitute people of melanin-deficiency (hey, if other people get to create new terms to describe themselves, then so can I), take comfort in racism reeks of her own elitism.
She’s the one who sees certain races as beneath her.
I’m beneath no one. I’m broke, but I’m a mother-frakkin’ American. That means no one gets to pretend I’m beneath them, and that also means I don’t get to claim any law-abiding schlub is beneath me. Whether I’m worth $100 billion or $100.