Language changes as culture changes; language may find itself outmoded because it no longer fits our societal configuration of reality.
Words and language don’t have a private exemption from the brains of we people; they’re not static, unchangeable, or the carriers of conventional, cultural meanings.
‘Words don’t mean, people mean.’ People mean what they use words to try to explain, and give more meaning to the whole. But words, as the pen-drawn-quill-dispensing, chalk-on-a-chalkboard, a computer getting inked-you know the drill-they contain no inherent meaning, no tandem-energy, no universal abstraction,
So, let’s forget about words for a minute, and take a long dive into “meaning & genetic pool-of-life, with empty green-quartz buzzin'”-the fount of nature, what does your life mean to you, and what do you presently want to do? with its own insides arrive.
Well, here’s the deal-for many anti-racist activists, and advocates, facilitators, and students, we have “inside” the term White Privilege to describe the white manifesto of life: we are entitled, and advantaged more than others because of our white skin.
Peggy MacIntosh was the first to use the term white privilege, and it’s use grew from that time forward. Today, it’s well-used, and hopefully more folks would understand what it’s driving at.
White privilege is the basis for the entire overarching, systemic earmarkings of white racism. It’s the implicit “designed blindness,” designed by we whites to pull the wool over other white’s eyes, to blind them to the truth of the system, and the denial of its very reality.
I raise this issue because within the last three months or so, I’ve heard stories and sayings about how much resistance happens when whites put out this term to say, “I’m not privileged. Are you kidding me?”
If we’re going to critique ourselves and creatively look for other ways to indicate the same thing, perhaps we can do so, but in a way that isn’t off-putting or pedantic.
People who’re put off with the word “privilege” usually are people who grew up white, but poor or disadvantaged. They may also see themselves as “middle class.” They don’t see themselves getting all kinds of advantages, because they’re white; to them, perhaps “privilege” has the baggage of aristocratic or elite wealth, which they aren’t.
This stereotype is a self-protective one, that we use on ourselves to prove something to our culture, or to other people whose qualities we desire.
What they perhaps may not yet see is that white privilege is also a sub-system, on whose crankcase are a cause perpetrating it’s own way in the world.
Consider: what other words have a similar meaning as “privilege?” Why not treat this as a gift of flexibility in the art of naming? So, then, what’s white? What’s privilege?
I think this is a very important issue, because it’s important to respect all views in this conversation. The views of those whites who feel dissed by the term white privilege must be respected as much as anyone else.
My suggestion would tentatively be the term White Advantage. This removes the difficulty of the word “privilege” and still encompasses what the term means. Of course, an alternative would be The Play Nice Syndrome, but this sounds too much like a mental health diagnosis, so I don’t think it’ll flow, you know? Another suggestion might be De-Centered Whiteness, that carries with it, a centering of all people of color, not whiteness.
Let’s see if we can start a conversation about this. How ’bout it?
copyright:christopherbearbeam March 2, 2018