RE: [lpsf-discuss] Re: [baclc] Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone) - Cops Are Illegitimate

On Facebook and Twitter: the “white privilege” have been flooding examples of how they (whites) benefit greatly from white privilege. Many coming forward mentioning current felonious activities, in a statement, they have it just that good.
Before them bringing forth the term, I barely ever heard it used.
Young people who everyday association with the plight of other races are more keen to be aware of still its common day effects. Their friends. As one mentioned, when the cops stop them its only when their black friend is around, and he is the only one asked for ID and unless driving some of them don’t even have to show ID.
To help keep perspective, I continually gauge young people opinion.

Eric,

  Privilege is a very fraught and complicated topic, but definitely deserves a place in the conversation. I agree with you that it is often used to describe real problems and facts on the ground -- indisputably, arrest rates, incarceration rates, etc., are disproportionately high for people of African or Hispanic ancestry relative to people of European ancestry. I do not for a minute believe this reality can be solely attributed to African-Americans or Hispanic-Americans being more inherently violent, criminal-minded, or whatever, than Caucasian-Americans. Any more than I believe the higher incarceration rate in the United States can be chalked up to Americans on the whole just being more violent, criminal-minded, or whatever than people in any other country in the world.

  I do have issues with the way privilege is sometimes looked at and discussed though (not talking about what you've said here, or the conversations on Facebook and Twitter to which you're referring, which I have not read, but just in general). Some of the concerns I have about it are expressed well in this blog post -- http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/07/social-justice-and-words-words-words/ . (I would not personally use the term "social justice" to refer to the ideology of identity politics as the author does, because I think justice is good by definition, and that a just society is a free society, but I do think he makes some very perceptive comments.)

  Part of the issue I have with the concept of privilege as I often hear the term applied is that I feel there is a tendency to cherry-pick how it applies to certain situations or topics, rather than really looking fairly and objectively at what makes people fortunate or unfortunate in terms of their chances in life and how they are treated by others. For example, here's a list, in roughly descending order, of different circumstances about me that were accidents of birth in which I played no part, but for which I consider myself fortunate (i.e. that I would not have had as good a life if they did not apply):

• being born (as opposed to being constituted as inanimate matter)
• being born human
• being born without any serious physical disabilities or life-impairing medical conditions
• being born with a good degree of natural intelligence
• being born to parents who (in their way) loved me, and raised me and provided for me
• being born American (i.e. as a U.S. citizen in the United States)
• being born not alienated from my own gender (gender dysphoria) or sexuality
• being born into a middle class household
• being born of European ancestry
• being born in the San Francisco Bay Area
• being born the eldest child in my family

  Of course there are various more detailed things that I could add to this list, but that's a rough outline of the major stuff I can think of. As always, I think it's important to stress that I -- like everyone -- had nothing to do with any of the stuff on that list. I can't take any credit for any of it, and I shouldn't be blamed for any of it. All of these things gave me various advantages. Some of them radically affected the way that I'm treated by other members of society. But being born of European ancestry is not near the top of the list of things for which I consider myself fortunate, and being born male isn't on the list at all (I'm not unhappy to be male, but from my perceptions of society I can't assume my life would have been worse if I'd been born female). I do feel fortunate not to have been born intersexed, and I do feel fortunate to have been born somewhat androgynous in terms of my personality -- I kind of subsume both of these things under the category of not being born alienated from the gender or sexuality I was born with.

  But when I look at the various ways in which I feel I've been lucky, and am in some senses privileged as a result, and compare that to the ways in which I most often see the concept of privilege being discussed, I feel the two bear very little resemblance! In terms of how much social attention is devoted to the various categories of privilege into which I feel I've been born, here's how I feel my list looks as seen through the eyes of what is sometimes dismissively called "political correctness", or what I more neutrally describe as the ideology of identity politics:

• being born of European ancestry
• being born male
• being born into a middle class household
• being born without any serious physical disabilities or life-impairing medical conditions
• being born not alienated from my own gender (gender dysphoria) or sexuality
• being born to parents who (in their way) loved me, and raised me and provided for me

  The categories of privilege not appearing on this second list are those categories that I feel get no significant attention in social discussions about privilege. Notice that these missing categories include some of the categories that I feel have actually made the most positive difference in my life, and for which I feel the most privileged! Even those categories of luck or privilege that I feel benefitted me and that are acknowledged in the social discourse around the topic of privilege, do not tend to very accurately reflect my own sense of the positive difference they've made in my life. Admittedly, I may be wrong in my estimations, but it seems to me that the risk of this is roughly equal in all categories, as far as anyone including myself can tell. I can never know what it would have been like to be born outside the Bay Area, any more than I can know what it would have been like to be born with a serious disability, or to be born non-human, or to be born intersexed, or to be born of African ancestry, or any other circumstances that differ from those on my list. All of these alternatives are ultimately unknowable to me. All I can do is speculate based on what I know of the world as to how beneficial the various circumstances of my birth that I think have benefitted me in some way relative to most possible alternatives have been in relation to each other. Since I'm speculating at an equal disadvantage with regard to each different category, I feel that any errors on my part in correctly weighing the relative benefits to me of the different types of privilege I enjoy probably tend to balance each other out to a large degree. Thus while I'm not saying that a hypothetical panel of neutral, knowledgeable observers would come up with the same ordered ranking of privileges I was born with that I did, I do feel that if society were to take a fair, honest look at privilege, away from the dictates of the identity politics ideology, that its ranking of my privileges would look a lot closer to what I came up with (my first list above) than it does to my perceptions of how the conversation is actually occurring (my second list above).

  I hope this all makes some sense, and that you can see what I mean.

Love & Liberty,
                                 ((( starchild )))