Peggy’s Problematization of White Skin is Tricky Bigotry
The concept of “white privilege” has permeated mainstream discourse, often wielded as a static fact that frames the narrative of inequality in our nation. Coined by Peggy McIntosh in her 1989 article titled, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” it has since become a term used to stifle voices, even when applied by individuals sharing the same genetic background.
The word “Knapsack” in the title refers to the “Knapsack Problem.” This problem can be understood as choosing items wisely to fill a limited backpack. In the knapsack problem, talking about white privilege and systemic racism requires the understanding of complex issues, unpacking them, and then retuning them to the backpack in a more equitable outcome for all.
It’s like figuring out how to make fair decisions when dealing with historical imbalances, much like students working within the rules of a school system, accept this system tries to flip the script. The idea appears to generate from genuine compassion of an author wanting a better world; seeking an America with less perception based division and hate.
But is it true? Does the American System lack equality and fairness? Does possessing white skin automatically produce a life of extraordinary privilege? Does the American system inherently favor white individuals as implied by the concept of white privilege and “systemic racism”?
Does white privilege exempt individuals from the usual financial responsibilities such as working for income, paying taxes, rent, utilities, and other common challenges of modern life? Moreover, does white privilege act as a protective barrier shielding individuals from the hardships experienced by others? What is the mechanism behind white privilege, and how does one exercise this perceived power?
At this moment there are dirt poor homeless white people without an opportunity, living on the streets, or in their vehicles in California; are they just unaware of their privilege and how to adequately wield it? In this article we examine these and other questions predicating the notion of white privilege and the claim of systemic racism in America.
Stick around to the end and you will discover how this term is rooted in bigotry and hate for others based on generalizing entire diverse communities not by the content of each individual’s character but instead by the color of their skin.
Furthermore, I will illustrate the destructive product this terminology births; fomenting division, installing prejudice, all in a way that only benefits the powers that be.
The Definition of Bigotry
Definitions make words what they are. Without a definition the word tree would mean nothing and just be a random sound humans make. Similarly, the word bigotry, which derives from the word bigot, has a definition that is critical to completely understand before we go forward.
Bigotry / Bigot / Intolerance
A Bigotry, or a Bigot, is defined as,
“ a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (such as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.”https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bigotry
Intolerance is simply lacking tolerance, which is a noun, defined in this context as,
It appears to me that the “Invisible Knapsack,” and many others similar articles which followed, have produced nothing but intolerance for white skinned people by those who accept this new-age paradigm. Meanwhile, if a white person were to walk the streets with a sign reading “I am Proud to be White” they will be ridiculed and condemned as a racist.
If it were indeed true that we live in systematic racism that favors Whites so much they have White Privilege, then the effect of walking with the same sign ought to be it gaining no attention whatsoever, and if anything praise.
If our society favored Whites so much, one could consider American an ethnocentric homogeny like Israel, Japan, China, and other similar Nations named after their people. The issue with their theory is that it doesn’t reconcile well with reality and the logic that applies.
For example, the same proponents of White Privilege as a reality are those who also claim that diversity is our strength when speaking about open border illegal immigration into the USA. Meanwhile, the nations listed above enjoy a closed border policy in order to maintain the ethnocentric homogeny of their Nation and its people.
When Americans want this for their Nation, it is impossible to make the counter claim they do so out of the same desire for genetic homogeny when America was founded by a diverse population of migrants who moved here lawfully.
There is simply no genetic homogeny in America one could point to and claim the desire for a secure border and conservation of specific aspect of culture, principle, and so forth are a smoke screen dog whistle for some mysterious underbelly of white skinned bigotry.
Case in point is an article by Sience.org titled, “Genetic study reveals surprising ancestry of many Americans,” which points out the “genetic mess” America represents by pure nature of it’s inheritance. The author goes on to explain away the idea of an ethnocentric homogeny in America,
“Until recently, “human population geneticists have tended to ignore the U.S.,” says Joanna Mountain, a geneticist and senior director of research at 23andMe, a company in Mountain View, California, that offers genetic testing. With its long history of migrations from around the world, she says, the [America] was “considered to be kind of messy in terms of genetics.”Lizzie Wade, “Genetic study reveals surprising ancestry of many Americans,”
But Mountain and her colleagues thought they might have a fighting chance of deciphering Americans’ complex genetic ancestry. Their secret weapon? 23andMe’s huge database of genetic information.”
Clearly if America’s gene pool is such a mess that the “human population geneticists have tended to ignore” us only until a massive genetic database existed with enough data to make sense of the madness, it is impossible to argue there is both a paradigm based on systemic racism which is predicated on a “White” homogeny that simply doesn’t exist.
Martin Luther King Junior Rolls in His Grave
Once upon a time civil rights activists upheld the tenants put forth by Martin Luther King Junior in his famous “I have a dream” speech. King said,
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”Martin Luthar King Junior at the Greatest Demonstration in our Nation’s History
Unfortunately, we can rest assured MLK is rolling in his grave. His dream of “freedom ringing” in America where all men and women join hands and sing “free at last, free at last, thank god almighty we are free at last” has unfortunately taken a darker path.
A free and prosperous America where folks of all backgrounds tolerate one another, unfortunately, works directly against the desires of an elite who sees everyone as beneath them from a socioeconomic perspective.
An elite that observes the value of dividing the population against itself. Divide and conquer, in politics and sociology is the practice of gaining and maintaining power divisively.
Historically and presently, this strategy was and is used in many different ways to expand power; however, it is hard to distinguish between the exploitation of pre-existing divisions, and the deliberate creation or strengthening of these divisions with ideas such as “White Privilege.”
An America bonded by the principles enshrined in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and via the vision laid out for us by visionaries like King; viewing our neighbors as coequal parts of our American experiment, prevents the division we currently see which is being used to divide the masses.
As it goes, anyone who comes along with a message that resonates with our inner need for unity which leads America into glory, must be murdered. King was fatally shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968 and, sadly, it seems as though his dream quickly died with him.
Instead of America learning from this tragedy we now have white skinned liberals writing articles where they presume the guilt of police officers against the decision of the jury, with nothing more than the jury sharing the same skin color as the officer as the predicate for their verdict.
How is it possible these self described civil rights activists and social justice warriors can say and do the things they do when a simple Google search confronts their newly discovered worldview with counter logic from the worlds most cherished civil rights leader of all time? The answer is found within the evaluation of a psychological behavior modification technique called Commitment to Consistency.
The Past is the Past, and the Future, if you Commit
The proponents of white privilege say we all live in an inherently racist system built upon centuries of intolerance, exclusively from and for the benefit of those with Caucasian ancestry at the express detriment of all other races they share a country with. Through this narrow lens they problematize American history in a way that, if accepted, leaves those who directly descended from the accused feeling ashamed of their long dead kin.
Even further, the accused can feel ashamed of long dead people from whom they bare no relation other than their skin color if they accept this as truth. What’s even more peculiar, the proponents of white privilege, like a religion or cult, are absolved of their racist sins just so long as they confess and ask their worldly leaders for forgiveness.
Personally, I accept and would never accept responsibility for anything my father has done, or his father did before him, and so on because I am completely innocent of their actions. In every way imaginable I share absolutely no guilt for any action they may have made. Nevertheless, when there is a crowd doing things, people join in to do those things, and often never stop to recognize how they are being manipulated.
If you doubt this has ever really happened you can feast your eyes on the footage below where a man from 3rd Ward Houston calls on his followers to kneel before the black community and plead for forgiveness for the whole, now completely debunked, George Floyd death.
Church of White Privilege: Kneel Before the Black Community and Confess your Racist Sins
Obviously, the people in the video above have every right to kneel before whomever they wish and submit their pleads for forgiveness. However, the folks kneeling and pleading are doing so to appease the shame of their supposed white privilege and are trying to absolve themselves of the responsibility they mistakenly apply to their having white skin.
By kneeling and pleading for forgiveness in a collective action, not only are they participating in a behavior’s modification technique called commitment to consistency, but they are also confessing guilt to crimes they did not commit to people who are not their victims.
With a Rebel Yell they Cry Mao Mao Mao
🚨Tucker on X Episode 32🚨 The George Floyd Story Was a Lie pic.twitter.com/N7EDZnDVJs— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) October 20, 2023
Maoism, as implemented during Mao Zedong’s leadership in China, utilized commitment to consistency as a psychological tool. The regime encouraged public displays of loyalty and adherence to Maoist ideology, fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose.
This commitment to consistency was reinforced through various means, including political campaigns, mass mobilization, and the cultivation of a personality cult around Mao.
Behavior modification techniques, such as public criticism sessions and ideological reeducation, were employed to shape individuals’ thoughts and behaviors according to Maoist principles. The aim was to create a conformist society where deviation from the party line was met with severe consequences. The constant reinforcement of Maoist ideals, coupled with surveillance and control mechanisms, played a significant role in manipulating the population.
These techniques were part of a broader strategy to consolidate political power, maintain social control, and advance Mao’s revolutionary agenda. Going deeper, Naomi Isenberg and Markus Brauer from the University of Wisconsin-Madison published a piece titled “commitment and consistency.”
They pulled together numerous sources to provide a broad approximation of behavior modification techniques and the many ways they are practiced. What follows is an excerpt from the abstract which illustrates the phycological elements at play with the white privilege phenomenon.
“The use of commitment and consistency principles in research and applied fields has demonstrated how effective these principles are in influencing behavior.
“Commitment and consistency are effective because people have the desire to maintain consistency with their self-concept, self-presentation, values, and behavior.”
“Commitments are acts that bind people to future behavior, providing a mechanism through which consistency is engaged. When individuals make a commitment to behave in a certain way, they are more likely to follow through with the behavior.”Commitment and Consistency, Wisc.edu
Does the Individual Exist? Are You a Unicorn?
Is it accurate to attribute every success or advantage of white individuals solely to white privilege, overlooking their individual efforts and achievements? This seems to be the lens through which white privilege proponents view the world. They double down on this by attributing all of the hardships nonwhites face as products of an inherently racist system and culture.
What’s fascinating is how the proponents of the concept seem to completely ignore the numerous ultra successful African Americans and people of color. How exactly did the following notable African American business leaders and entrepreneurs manage to overcome systemic racism?
Systemic Racism List of Capitalist Unicorns
- Oprah Winfrey: Media mogul, television host, and philanthropist.
- Robert F. Smith: Founder of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm.
- Ursula Burns: Former CEO of Xerox, the first African American woman to lead a Fortune 500 company.
- Daymond John: Founder of FUBU and a prominent investor on the TV show “Shark Tank.”
- Tyler Perry: Entertainment mogul, known for his success in film, television, and theater.
- Reginald F. Lewis: Former CEO of TLC Beatrice International, the first African American to build a billion-dollar company.
- Madam C.J. Walker: Often regarded as the first female self-made millionaire in the United States, she founded a successful line of beauty and haircare products.
- Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter: Rapper, businessman, and founder of Roc Nation.
- Don Peebles: Real estate magnate and founder of The Peebles Corporation.
- Aliko Dangote: While not based in the United States, Aliko Dangote, from Nigeria, is one of the wealthiest individuals in Africa, with significant business interests across various industries.
Proponents who take a hard line supporting the notion of white privilege, fragility, and systemic racism would reply have to utilize verbal jiujitsu to dance around the above list of successful Americans and still find legs for “White Privilege” to stand on. But we often here that it is power within the political arena where “people of color” are said to face a harder path their their pale skinned counterparts.
Unfortunately, that position is only possible by ignoring the facts stacked against it as well. If the American political system was inherently racist how could the following list of African Americans have become so successful?
Systemic Racism List of Political Unicorns
- Barack Obama: 44th President of the United States, serving from 2009 to 2017.
- Kamala Harris: Vice President of the United States, serving since 2021, and the first woman, first African American woman, and first Asian American woman to hold the office.
- Cory Booker: U.S. Senator from New Jersey since 2013, previously serving as the Mayor of Newark.
- Maxine Waters: U.S. Representative for California’s 43rd congressional district since 1991.
- John Lewis: Late U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district, a key figure in the Civil Rights Movement.
- Shirley Chisholm: The first African American woman elected to the U.S. Congress, representing New York’s 12th congressional district.
- Colin Powell: Former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- Condoleezza Rice: Former U.S. Secretary of State.
- Deval Patrick: Former Governor of Massachusetts.
- Harold Washington: Late Mayor of Chicago, the first African American mayor of the city.
Let’s go deeper. How do proponents of the white privilege and system racism myth reconcile their ideas against the following list of African Americans who joined the republican party as early as 1870 to fight back against the democrat establishment who were stubborn supporters of slavery, listing forward to politicians currently serving their constituents?
Notable Black Republicans from 1870 to Present
- Hiram Rhodes Revels: The first African American to serve in the U.S. Senate. He represented Mississippi from 1870 to 1871.
- Blanche K. Bruce: The second African American to serve in the U.S. Senate, representing Mississippi from 1875 to 1881.
- Edward Brooke: Elected as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts in 1966, he was the first African American popularly elected to the Senate.
- Oscar Stanton De Priest: The first African American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican, representing Illinois from 1929 to 1935.
- Shirley Chisholm: While known for her association with the Democratic Party, it’s worth noting that Chisholm began her political career as a member of the New York State Assembly as a Republican.
- J.C. Watts: Served as a U.S. Representative from Oklahoma from 1995 to 2003 and was the first African American selected to respond to a State of the Union address on behalf of the Republican Party.
- Tim Scott: Currently serving as a U.S. Senator from South Carolina since 2013, he is the first African American senator from the South since Reconstruction.
WTF is White Fragility?
White privilege gave birth to the idea of white fragility. This term can be found within the title of a popular book covering the topic. The title, “White Fragility: Why it is so hard for White People to talk about Racism,” by Robin D’Angelo. In an attempt to support the notions of white privilege and systemic racism goes a step further characterizing all “white people” with a broad generalization in the title itself.
By claiming that it is fragility which produces the alleged inability of white people to speak openly about racism, the author doubles down on the bigotry which this entire notion is predicated on. Obviously, the relative comfort level of any individual to speak about or not speak about racism is a deeply personal choice likely built upon layers of complex nuances.
Being white skinned, and via these destructive ideas, inherently racist, the nuances inside are worthless to the proponents of this new age bigotry. Whats more, pale skin is attributed to a wide variety of cultures and people. The diverse communities which are swept into the categorization of “white people,” effectively achieves the very racism and bigotry the proponents claim to oppose.
Instead of working against the entirety of racism and bigotry by teaching love, respect, tolerance and understanding of differences these folks instead take the threat they’ve embellished and turn it on those who, in error, believe it to be the cause. The net effect is pitting neighbor vs neighbor on a false pretext of division that simply doesn’t exist.
Pegging it on Peggy
Circling back to Peggy McIntosh and her work, she discusses the concept of white privilege and reflects on her subjective personal views alleging its existence. This, just as you’ve experienced as a rebuttal here, is the both of us expressing our free speech. However, where I’ve worked to reconcile elements of reality against Macintosh and her idealistic simplification of complex issues, her work was dripping with biases.
For example, Macintosh focuses on instances that support the existence of white privilege while not giving equal attention to alternative perspectives. She makes generalizations about men and white individuals, assuming a universal experience of privilege without acknowledging individual differences or varying circumstances.
Macintosh does not acknowledge or engage with potential counterarguments or alternative perspectives, which could provide a more balanced discussion and consistently assumes a uniform experience of privilege for all white individuals without considering variations in socio-economic status, geographic location, or individual circumstances.
Wrap it up B!
In conclusion, the exploration of the concept of “white privilege” and its associated notions of systemic racism and fragility raises critical questions about the prevailing narrative. The initial inquiries about the existence of white privilege and systemic racism in America led us to examine the complexity of these issues. However, as we delved into the examination, it became apparent that the widely accepted paradigm may not align with the tangible reality of contemporary America.
The economic struggles faced by various individuals, regardless of their racial background, challenge the notion that white privilege guarantees an automatic life of extraordinary advantage. The diversity and complexity of America’s genetic makeup, as evidenced by extensive genetic studies, debunk the idea of a homogenous “white” population that supposedly benefits from systemic racism. The examination of successful individuals from diverse racial backgrounds, including prominent African American leaders in politics, business, and entertainment, further challenges the narrative of an inherently racist system favoring white individuals.
The commitment to consistency, a psychological principle highlighted in the context of white privilege, prompts us to question whether attributing every success or hardship solely to race oversimplifies the intricate tapestry of individual efforts, achievements, and circumstances. The misuse of such concepts, exemplified by public displays like kneeling for forgiveness, mirrors historical manipulation techniques used in Maoist China, raising concerns about the impact on social cohesion.
The dream of Martin Luther King Jr., advocating for a nation where individuals are judged by their character rather than the color of their skin, seems to have taken a different trajectory. The division propagated by concepts like white privilege, rather than fostering unity, plays into the hands of those who benefit from societal discord and division.
Ultimately, the examination of white privilege reveals a need for a more nuanced and balanced dialogue. The oversimplification and generalization inherent in some discussions on this topic risk perpetuating divisions and hindering genuine progress toward equality. By recognizing the individuality and diversity within racial groups, acknowledging counterarguments, and fostering open dialogue, we can move toward a more inclusive and equitable America purely as a symptom of that success.