Friday, November 12, 2010

Think of the Starving Children in Appalachia!

Roy Edroso gave some coverage to a rightblogger who was up in arms about the notion of "white privilege." Edroso remarked:
Actually, I find it useful to contemplate my white privileges, and any other privileges into which I was born, like being a citizen of the richest country on earth, and did not obtain for myself. In fact, when I was growing up, it was customary for adults to remind children of such luck as they had inherited, like the food we had and "people starving in other countries" didn't. This was meant as a spur to gratitude and humility, and to not being such a whining little shit. I guess things have changed. Everyone's a victim now, even (perhaps especially) the most privileged among us.
I agree that it's useful and edifying to contemplate one's own privilege, though I don't think I agree that the "people starving in other countries" line, used to cajole kids into eating food they didn't like (as though the adults in those homes didn't have their own personal food neuroses), was even meant to get kids to "remind children of such luck as they had inherited." It was meant to shut them up. I know I wasn't the only kid who thought (but would have gotten a clout in the mouth if I'd said it), "So why don't you send this stuff to those starving people in other countries?"

I don't recall my parents, decent folks who'd grown up poor in the Great Depression, ever acknowledging their white privilege; and the white people I know who are indignant at the very idea that their white skin gave them luck they hadn't merited, are still quite pious about the suffering poor in whatever country is on the news these days. But bring up white privilege, and it's "Nobody ever gave me anything because I was white! I had to work hard for everything I've got! Why shouldn't They?" Ah, but They do. But hard work alone won't open certain doors.

I must say, though, I liked this comment (no permalink, but Nov 11 at 8:15:17 a.m.) by Big Hank53:

Q: What's the best thing about an investment banker?

A: Even a small one will keep your dog fed for a month.

Hadn't heard that one before. But the same commenter also asked rhetorically in another thread: "
Jesus, do you think there's enough smug superiority for everyone?" Why sure: there's an endless supply of smug superiority, and it's free to boot. This doesn't seem to detract from its popularity, however. Everyone seems to think they've got a corner on the market.