April 26, 2010

Thinking on the Concept of White Privilege

My virtual blogging friend, intellectual compatriot and all around just cool person Arlene Fenton, author of the currently quiescent blog Black Women Vote, has had occasion recently to point out to me what she considered possible evidence of "white privilege" in operation, in connection with the shocker win by a white sorority in a step contest.  Its not a topic I get into often if at all, but her comments did stay with me and today I came across an explication of the concept of "privilege" that I thought was particularly salient and explanatory.  Oddly enough, it comes from a Hot Air post pushing back on the characterization of Conservatives as closed minded. The salient bits in my mind:

The point is that when one group has privilege, and the other doesn’t, the response isn’t symmetrical, a fact that the dominant group tends to spend a lot of time remarking upon. The out-group is angrier and prizes its group identity–”conservative”–over weaker affiliations like “journalist” or “sociologist.”

That’s why you have black newspapers, and Jewish magazines, and Irish arts centers, but no “Bland: The Magazine of the American White Middle Class.” The dominant group doesn’t enforce its group identity the way the out-group does. It doesn’t have to. It gets to decide what constitute[s] the acceptable modes of behavior, sources of authority, and ways of knowing. The privileged group doesn’t need its own institution specifically devoted to advancing its interests.