Reader's view: The Un-Fair Campaign invites misinterpretationWhile I affirm the objective, the Un-Fair Campaign’s message leans on a comprehension of white privilege Duluth lacks. Particularly the slogan, “It’s hard to see racism if you’re white.” It invites misinterpretation.
While I affirm the objective, the Un-Fair Campaign’s message leans on a comprehension of white privilege Duluth lacks. Particularly the slogan, “It’s hard to see racism if you’re white.” It invites misinterpretation. The message imposes privilege only on whites, thereby suggesting fault or blame. A redefinition is prerequisite to positive outcomes.
Remove racial identities. The word “privilege” carries negative connotations and implies intent, so discard it. I redefine “white privilege” as “dominant group advantage.” Most cultures separate into two or more distinct groups. The dominant group influences cultural customs and traditions. The relatively subordinate group(s) must integrate. Dominant-group advantages manifest as behaviors, norms or traditions that enhance life solely based on group membership.
Consider a group of Southerners with thick accents traveling to Duluth. Stereotypes correlating Southern accents to intelligence are commonplace. The dominant group, Duluthians, have established ways of speaking. The travelers, a subordinate group, must integrate into Duluth culture, confront stereotypes and feel pressured to positively represent their group. A traveler might ask, “If I say something that sounds unintelligent, will that be taken to represent all people with a Southern accent?” A Duluthian does not consider his or her speech. What appears insignificant to us creates a threatening reality for others.
White people comprise the dominant group in U.S. race culture, indicating whites hold dominant-group advantage. Whites can ignore their whiteness. Race is rarely an issue for the dominant group in a race culture. For subordinate groups, race rarely is not an issue. Whites act only as individuals, while non-whites perceive a constant duty to properly represent their subordinate group. Whites can choose to ignore the idea of white privilege even as it defines reality for non-whites. This is privilege.