What Stu Bykofsky Almost Gets Right About White Privilege
Let’s give Stu Bykofsky some credit: Sometimes he almost stumbles his way to the truth.
Backhanded compliment? Sure. But you take what you can get with Stu. And on Tuesday, what Stu gave us was this: A deconstruction of the idea of “white privilege” — part of Stu’s Ongoing Series of Columns That Try to Tear Down the Foundations of Political Correctness, That Most Venal of Sins — that instead pretty much affirmed the concept.
Stu would almost certainly deny that’s what happened. But judge for yourself.
He started out with the “Standard Humble White Guy Dodge”: Privilege? I’ve never been privileged in my life!
My “white privilege” was sharing a bedroom with my sister in a South Bronx tenement until I was 15 and she was 11. My parents slept on a bed in the living room. Then we moved out of a neighborhood of close scrapes and fire escapes to a Brooklyn public-housing project where we had our own bedrooms.
…moved on to “Some Blacks Have Achieved Higher Stations in Life Than I” Routine ….
I attended the same high school as Attorney General Eric Holder, and he’s done better than I.
… and finished with the “Peddlers of White Privilege Are the Real Racists” Rebound:
“White privilege” says whites get an undeserved boost, even when they are unaware of it. That’s almost hateful.
And that would seem to be it for Stu Bykofsky: Another Day, Another Politically Correct Shibboleth Punctured. End of story, right?
Right. Except he also wrote this:
The hill was, and is, steeper for blacks than whites, but to think all whites roller-skate downhill is ridiculous.
A better term might be “black disadvantage,” which I don’t like. Racism — being stopped by cops, trailed in retail stores, cold-shouldered by white neighbors — lays its hand on all African-Americans, but none of it improves white lives.
He’s … so … close! Do you think he even knows what he wrote?
It’s pretty apparent that Stu’s real problem here isn’t so much the concept of “white privilege” — I think he’s just affirmed his belief in it with these comments — so much as it is the words themselves, which are the kinds of words that liberals use and must be shunned. In fact, if you read to the end of the column, it’s clear: Stu is ready to concede the existence of about every other category of “privilege” in the book. “White privilege” is the lone exception. Coherence may not be Stu’s strong point.
So let’s explain carefully:
Stu: If the hill is steeper for blacks than whites — I’m using your words here — that necessarily means that whites have an easier time getting to the top. All things being equal: That’s a privilege.
Stu: If black folks have to grind against daily occurrences of racism, that might hold them back — it certainly disadvantages them, as you say. If you’re freer to walk about your neighborhood, or a store, or simply get across town in a cab, that makes you freer to accomplish the things you want to in life. Compared to the African Americans you discuss and the disadvantages they face, that’s a privilege.
You didn’t earn that. Neither did they. It doesn’t mean you cheated — we’ll do the history lessons another time — or were born with a silver spoon in their mouth for it to be true. But here we are.
That’s white privilege, Stu. And you described the reality of it beautifully.
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