So what is my “rant” about today, you may be wondering. My rant is about, you guessed it, privilege. When I say privilege, I do not meant, “it is my privilege to ______ you.” I do not mean the discussion of if something is a right or a privilege, an old debate that rages quite often.
No, when I say privilege, I am discussing what Peggy McIntosh talks about. I am discussing the term as a definition of systemic issues. I am discussing it because it is as important and essential to our humanity now as it ever was.
I am discussing privilege because of the comments being made about individuals around the nation who are taking stands on racial issues at institutions of higher education. The critical remarks associating them with lack of effort in the classrooms, saying they really should use the methods in place for this such as petition, asking why protesters aren’t willing to talk. Each and every single iteration of these arguments denote privilege. They denote racial privilege. They denote the privilege of education at times and perhaps class privilege. They denote individuals expressing exactly why that third argument about talking should never be brought up. Students and faculty make the remarks about putting the same kind of effort into the classroom. Because obviously students cannot be brilliant both inside and outside of the classroom if they are not White…that is what that statement says. As the now rather famous quote from scandal goes, “You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have.” In today’s age, that is the power of racism. That is the definition of microaggressions. Yet several people will read a line like that, hear a story like that and say it isn’t true. We are “America” and everyone can succeed if they try hard enough, regardless of if the real world disagrees. Privilege is your ability to say, “Don’t you break my little bubble where I believe in a perfect world.” That is White Fragility. That is White privilege, expecting each and every person to slow down and move things at your pace so they don’t hurt your emotions while you, even perhaps unknowingly, may have been doing exactly that for years.
Here is the thing, that privilege? It isn’t just about race. It is why even though White Christians have demonstrated severe violence, all Muslims are evil and there is a “War on Christmas.” It is why women are only CEOs of 4.4% of the S&P 500, but we complain about them fighting for equality. It is why there has been so much inequity in higher education, a fight we still see happening today, but we prefer to complain about students actions than the system that led to these consequences for administrators. It is time to stop ignoring the issue or assuming “talking” will fix it. Students have given a list of actions that can be taken.