Chapin: White people, stop getting defensive | Ottawa Citizen

Angelina Chapin on white privilege and defensiveness:

A study from New York University found that the concept of white privilege messes with our sense of personal achievement. It’s easier to believe you landed your job at a law firm through long hours and smarts, not because your parents shelled out for Ivy League tuition and knew a senior partner at the firm (in reality, of course, success involves a mix of hard work and opportunity.) To preserve the self-made myth, white people deny or distance themselves from privilege. You faced struggles, too. You know white privilege exists for some, but you have black friends. Maybe you don’t “see race.” All these tactics dodge personal responsibility.

To fight racism, white people need to own up to their privilege. Of course, the right mentality alone won’t erase discrimination. But without it, there’s little hope of political change. Authors of the New York University study concluded that white people who deny their leg-up in this world don’t support affirmative action policies. That’s a huge shame, since the best way to reverse the racial oppression rampant in criminal, housing and education systems in North America is to legislate greater equality.

White people need to reject the instinct to become defensive about racial issues. Save those feelings for your diary. We must instead recognize our personal role in big picture discrimination, rather than create a narrative that exempts us from blame. You can own up to white privilege without being a bad person. But denying oppression in any way – whether through a hashtag or spraypaint – is at best tone deaf and at worst racist. Canadians should really know better.

Chapin: White people, stop getting defensive | Ottawa Citizen.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

One Response to Chapin: White people, stop getting defensive | Ottawa Citizen

  1. Secular Vegan says:

    I’m a very ‘privileged’ white person. I was born in an NHS hospital, brought up on a council estate and have a state school education. What is racist is the very concept of ‘white privilege’.

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