Matt Chandler posted the following: http://bit.ly/1oVGHAL. This is a response.
Before the blood of Michael Brown had cooled on the pavement in Ferguson, a chorus of voices began railing white privilege. While superficially satisfying, the idea of white privilege struck a nerve with many and justifiably so. When looking at hard data, logic and history, the hypothesis of white privilege pales in comparison to a view encompassing values & culture.
White privilege through white lenses
The entire idea of white lenses affecting perspectives on race smacks of the genetic fallacy – (ie: the fallacy that ideas are true or false because of their source). In reality, the veracity of a claim must be examined independent of its source. Whites can and do have correct views on race all the time. So do blacks and every other race. And all of those groups have incorrect views as well.
Matt implicitly acknowledged this when he analyzed the issue of race himself. His white lenses did not invalidate his views of race. If we are to arrive at correct conclusions here, we must venture into the scary world of facts (Hey, remember those?).
What about successful blacks?
“As far back as 1969, young black males whose homes included newspapers, magazines, and library cards, and who had also gone on to obtain the same number of years of schooling as young white males, had the same incomes as their white counterparts…In earlier periods, such cultural factors had little weight, suggesting that racial discrimination had more weight in earlier times (Sowell – 174).” Almost every study of black underachievement lacks controls for habits and attitudes like this – the more one controls for these factors, the more white privilege disappears (http://bit.ly/1uyzY5v).
What about Asians?
Perhaps the best answer to white privilege are those ethnic groups not simply equal to whites on all counts, but outperforming them. If whites are succeeding due to privilege, why would Asians success not only match, but radically outpace white success (Sowell, 226-7)? Culture, values & education explain offer a richer, more nuanced explanation than overt discrimination – a fact both whites & blacks would do well to learn.
The real cause
What Matt is dancing around is the frustration that blacks feel at high poverty & crime rates & stagnant living standards. If those are not caused primarily by racism, what would be? Out-of-wedlock births, single-parent families & drug abuse are high on the list – in short, the primary problems are internal. “While, in the late 20th century, an absolute majority of those black families with no husband present lived in poverty, more than four-fifths of black husband-wife families did not (Sowell – 164).” With figures like these, strengthening black families & marriages has far more promise than any legal or political reforms.
This is not to say that racism does not occur in America (it does) or that whites are immune to such accusations (they’re not), rather that white racism in America is painted as if it is unique. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. From Rwanda to Sarajevo, racism permeates out of human nature. So the absence of racism is not the measure of a good society, but the presence of a serious resistance to it. Could it be that the reason whites are unaware of their own racism is that they’re not?
But what about Slavery?
What about it? With very few exceptions, every society in human history had slavery and no one batted an eye. Blacks, whites, arabs – they were all participated to varying degrees (with muslims enslaving more than whites). There was no conflict until whites were first given rights. And it was whites who fought over slavery, yes, some for it, but more against it, in the end 360,000 Union soldiers dying for the cause (Prager – 132) – *mostly white men*. Perhaps its time to hit this fact home.
In conclusion, the myth of white privilege implodes when put against the backdrop of history, data & Asians. This is both discouraging & empowering. Discouraging, in that outsiders like myself & Matt are impotent to repent of imagined sins. Empowering, in that blacks in America (like many) have far more control over their own destiny than they have been led to believe.
Matt, you care about the plight of blacks, both physically & spiritually. SO DO I. But incorrectly diagnosing these problems risks incalculable harm.
I await your response.