20 May, 2015

Check Your Privilege

Pompous blowhards come in all flavours.

They're usually male, for some reason, and the chief characteristic of a pompous blowhard is that he knows what he knows, which is more than you know, and he wants you to know it.

He will craft what appears to be a very strong argument, buttressed with as many big words as he knows (more than you do), and he might even sound convincing until you notice the great big gaping hole in his worldview. 

Rex Murphy is a pompous blowhard. Not quite Conrad Black level, but getting on up there.

Case in point: here. According to Mr. Murphy, "white privilege" does not exist. His argument for this stunning piece of revelation boils down to: "there are poor white people, ergo the colour of your skin doesn't matter."


Cape Bretoners mining for coal were white, says Rex, and so were the Irish immigrants fleeing the famines. ("How many potatoes does it take to kill an Irishman? None.") They lived poor, wretched lives, and so do many poor people today from Appalachia to Russia, and would you look at that? They're all white!

Saith the Rex, and do recall that's Latin for "king",

To even set up white privilege as a category is prima facie racist. It is to reduce the sum of a person, his dignity, his drive, his worth and his soul to the colour of his skin; it is to posit skin colour as the point of departure for all interactions with that person, to found judgments on that skin colour, to draw feverish and deliberately negative conclusions from it.

 No, indeed, Lord Murphy, it is only you who is doing that. The only privileges you bother to pinpoint in this vacuous piece--having "flesh-coloured" Band-Aids that actually match your flesh  and shampoo that's made for your hair texture--are indeed not matters of huge import. They are telling, though. There is this automatic assumption that flesh-coloured = pale, and there's a little reminder every time you step into a shower that THIS PRODUCT WAS NOT MADE WITH YOU IN MIND. That's not something you've ever experienced, Rex, let alone on a daily basis, and so it must not exist. QED.

Let's talk about actual privileges. Such as, for instance, the only one that matters to your masters at the National Post: money. Magnificent mountains of money, stinking scads of specie. (Ever read the National Post? Its "HOMES" section really oughta be titled "MANSIONS" or 'ESTATES" or some such, and its DRIVE section is full of such pedestrian middle-of-the-road vehicles as Lexuses and Mercedes and Porsches...)

So yes, let's talk about money, and the median net worth of white people versus, say, Hispanics and Blacks in the United States. Per the Pew Research Center:


WHITE FAMILIES        $141.900
BLACK FAMILIES:      $11,000

Those numbers are absolutely staggering, in my opinion. And they're as good a confirmation of "white privilege" as you're likely to ever find. Now, Rex, dear heart, do you have any idea why these numbers reflect the reality they do? Is it because blacks and Hispanics are lazy and unmotivated? No, Rex, it's not that, although your white friends probably think it is that.

It's because black people and Hispanic people have by and large lacked one rather critical advantage, one "privilege", if you will, and that is the means to acquire and pass on property that appreciates in value.

Think it through, Rex. A young white family scrapes together enough money to buy a house. Depending on where they are, that house might increase tenfold in value over a generation, and it's a sure bet it will at least triple. Property ownership is the primary means by which the middle class can enrich itself.

Now let's make that a black family instead. They're descended from slaves who couldn't own anything, let alone pass it down. But let's say they pinch and scrape and manage to buy a small home in a nice little area. They paint their little picket fence white to match their white neighbours.

Except the white neighbours move away, because ewwwww! black people!, and the neighbourhoods are then primarily black, and the white people who are in charge of such things (I think they call that a 'privilege')  collectively decide that black neighbourhoods just aren't worth as much. Like, really, not worth much at all. Basically, those black people who bought their homes may as well have set their money on fire for all the good it did them.

Yes, there are rare exceptions...there are some very rich black and Hispanic folks. But they are rather thin on the ground, compared to the number of rich white folks, and property values are the biggest reason why.

You're going to remind me of Appalachia, Rex, and how it's white and its property values suck. Indeed it is and indeed they do. It's also rural, Rex. True rural areas, outside of suburban enclaves and certain designated areas where the white folks erect their second homes, are invariably worth less, and often worthless. Compare the cities, where most people actually live, and you'll find that for the most part the populations gets paler and more moneyed the further out from the center you get.

By the way, Rex? If there were black people to man the fields of Ireland and the mines of Cape Breton, they'd overwhelmingly be the ones doing, and dying in, both jobs. THAT's the biggest privilege of all, and you utterly ignored it.

You pompous white blowhard.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You've got this pompous blowhard pegged properly.