Saturday, March 30, 2019

Educating White People About Their Privilege

At 5:10 of the video below, South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg tells Bill Maher

I also think sometimes there's a sense of condescension coming from our party. Fairly or unfairly, I think a lot of people perceive that we're looking down on them. And if we allow that to continue, that's going to be a real problem.

If a wealthy coastal liberal professional goes up to a guy pumping gas in South Bend wearing one of those red hats and says "you're voting against your economic interests. You know what that guy is going to say? He's going to say "so are you."

I'd bet Buttigieg a whole lot of money that the last thing someone being confronted about the hat he's wearing will say is "so are you." It might be "shut the hell up" or "if you don't like it, you can get your ass out of here" or "f_ _ _ you." But it wouldn't be "so are you." Additionally, knowingly antagonizing a fellow with a gas pump in his hand is not very wise. You're a little out of touch, Pete.

But it gets worse because when Maher responds "or if he says 'you have white privilege. That rubs people the wrong way," Buttigieg replies

Yeah, well, look, white privilege is real and we should talk about these issues. But we can't paint people into a corner where they have nowhere to go but the far right. That's how radicalization works.

Real, also, is people voting against their economic interest- and more widespread than white privilege.  On social media and elsewhere, progressives often argue that the interests of the poor, the working class, and less obviously, the middle class are served by voting against conservative Republicans.

However, while few people are individually confronted, a great many white voters complain they are labeled "racist" whenever they express an opinion contrary to "political correctness."

These same people may have lost their home or, more likely, are experiencing severe difficulty paying their mortgage.  If a single mother, she may have to work long, even irregular, hours to provide for household needs and be stuck with inadequate or costly child care. Her child may be stuck in troubled public schools- some with a heavy proportion of minority students- with the parent lacking the money to get him or her into a private school.

Or perhaps a couple's children have graduated and are unable to enter college- which they are told is the only ticket to a secure livelihood- even though the father or the mother is working two jobs.

The parent may be stuck in a low-paying job, maybe one with few benefits, and unable to obtain a better job or to commute to for which she is qualified. All around them, the family may see the signs of what once were considered symptoms only of urban decay- declining (probably underfunded) schools, increasing crime, and a neighbor, relative, or a friend of a friend dead from opiate addiction.

Some of these people are white. Then they hear a presidential candidate blithely assuming the existence of "white privilege." Worse yet, the pol may condescendingly say- as those "coastal elites" are wont to do- "we should talk about these issues." They know what that means- we talk, you listen, because it's a "teachable moment."

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