White Privilege Reconsidered

On June 3 I Tweeted, “Here again is why I think “white privilege” language is counter-productive. It’s not a “privilege” to be treated fairly under the law, it’s a right. We’re talking about protecting everyone’s rights, not giving more people ‘privileges.'”

After getting some pushback, I added, “If we follow the etymology—’law applying to one person,’ https://etymonline.com/word/privilege—we can say that legal ‘privileges’ are inherently unjust. Obviously there have been racially ‘privileged’ laws in the U.S., overt (now illegal), and subtle (e.g. crack-powder cocaine sentencing).” And: “It’s obviously true that a) many laws are unjust and b) reasonable laws often are enforced in racially disparate ways (which is unjust). If you want to call those legal ‘privileges,’ fine. But the proper aim remains to repeal unjust laws and to enforce just laws justly.”

Gordon Ingram pointed out that black people more often are denied their rights.

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