President Biden recently signed an executive order that, as near as we can tell, seeks to send federal employees to internment camps for “re-education” about “white privilege”. We’re paraphrasing, but that seems to be the gist of it. For all of you “deplorables” out there, white privilege refers to the idea that there exist implicit or systemic advantages that white people have relative to nonwhite people. Essentially, white privilege refers to the absence of suspicion or other negative reactions that white people experience, as in white people don’t experience suspicious or negative reactions.
Alright, so the concept of white privilege originated in the
United States and can be quite the controversial topic. Detractors call the concept of white privilege racist and liken the labelling of white privilege akin to being called a racist. Conversely, proponents like Julie Segal effectively say that anyone that thinks this way is a complete and utter moron that is simply too feeble minded to understand the superior intellectual thought and nuance that is the concept of white privilege. For example, in the piece Benefitting from White privilege doesn’t mean you’re a racist, Ms. Segal states:
Just because you benefit from White privilege does not mean you’re somehow a racist. In fact, that misunderstanding itself prevents some White people from grappling with the idea, which can be a positive step toward becoming an anti-racist and better understanding of what Black people face in their lives. Being White may give people a leg up in an apartment hunt or help immunize them against negative interactions with cops, but that benefit comes from being born into and living in a system built for White people. Systemic racism bestows these benefits. They’re not the result of any individual White person’s actions. So, it’s important to acknowledge that right from the start.
So basically, you have detractors saying that white privilege is coded language for whites being racists and proponents saying that’s nonsense. The two sides are basically talking past one another so the argument just becomes overly contentious and there is no agreement on anything. Well, we here at the The Objective Observer are always here to help. Therefore, let’s see if we can look at the subject of white privilege objectively and reach a conclusion.
In looking at the matter of white privilege objectively, we first come to what we feel are two core, fundamental questions:
- Can white privilege exist without racism?
- How can we quantitatively describe white privilege?
Let’s start with whether white privilege can exist without racism. Since white privilege means that white people benefit from being white, this certainly indicates that those white people are being treated differently based solely upon the color of their skin. In addition, nonwhites are not receiving those benefits so they are also being judged based solely upon the color of their skin. Perhaps we’re no white privilege scholars, but to anyone being objective about the matter, treating someone differently based solely on the color of their skin is, well, that’s pretty much the definition of racism there folks. Thus, we must conclude that white privilege requires there to be a “positive” racism element, whites receive benefits and a “negative” racism element, nonwhites do not receive those same benefits.
OK, next up is whether or not we can quantitatively describe white privilege. For white privilege to exist, white people must receive a positive benefit from being white more often than receiving a negative or neutral benefit. If being white only resulted in receiving mostly neutral, mostly negative reactions or a combination of mostly neutral and mostly negative reactions then the perceived benefits of being white, and thus white privilege wouldn’t exist. In other words if white people didn’t benefit from or experience white privilege more often than they do benefit from or do not experience white privilege, well, then there would be no white privilege. Thus, white privilege can only exist in a world where white people experience the benefits of white privilege more often than they experience no benefit from white privilege.
OK, let’s see if we can take this out of the realm of the subjective and into the realm of the objective and quantitative. Hey! Math is objective and quantitative. Let’s use math. We start by restating the above in terms of math. If white people, more often than not, benefit from individuals they encounter not immediately viewing them with suspicion, then that means that the majority, or greater than 50%, of the individuals those white people encounter must bestow white privilege. If greater than 50% of people did not bestow white privilege, positive racism, then white people would not experience white privilege. The logic seems inescapable here.
We can go further. We can further conclude that for white privilege to exist in the circumstance cited above, then this “absence of suspicion” must be unique to the white experience. That means that those greater than 50% of people that bestow white privilege on whites must also not bestow white privilege on nonwhites. Otherwise, the absence of suspicion in favor of whites would not be unique to being white. If nonwhites also benefited from an absence of suspicion then white privilege does not exist. This means that nonwhites must simultaneously suffer from a lack of white privilege or negative racism. This seems rather obvious but is worth pointing out.
Can this 50% threshold be defended? Well, to hear the white privilege folks talk about it, we believe this number is actually quite low. Our understanding is that white privilege is systematic and omnipresent, more along the lines of upwards of 80%-90% if not 100%. Conversely, setting the threshold too low runs the risk of the white privilege “signal” just being random noise. One could quibble over the exact percentage but if white people didn’t experience white privilege more often than they do not, then can it really be described as a benefit and, perhaps more importantly, can it really be described systemic? Unlikely.
Can we go further? Can we define exactly how many people are required in order for white privilege to be a reality? Perhaps, but some demographic data is in order.
This chart shows that in 2019, the breakdown of the American population by race is as follows:
- Whites – 197,309,822
- Hispanic – 60,572,237
- Blacks – 41,147,488
- Asian – 18,905,879
- Other – 7,273,281
- Native – 2,434,908
Alright, here comes the math. The above chart gives us a total population of 327,643,615. Just over half of this population is 163,821,808. Thus, threshold for white privilege is that 163,821,808 Americans exhibit positive racism towards whites and negative racism towards nonwhites.
If we assume, for the sake of argument, that 100% of nonwhites for some inexplicable reason view whites favorably versus unfavorable and thus contribute to “white privilege” we only get to 40% of the population (130,333,793). But, to get to our threshold of greater than 50%, or 163,821,808 people contributing to white privilege, this means that at least 33,488,015 white people must also contribute to white privilege. That’s about 17%. Thus, we must conclude that a statement about white privilege existing in America has as a base assumption that, at a minimum, 17% of whites are racists.
What about a maximum? OK, let’s now assume that all nonwhites are not contributors to white privilege. Reaching the 50% threshold would require 163,821,808 whites, or 83% of white people, to be racist.
White privilege cannot possibly exist without at least 50% of the population exhibiting behavior that favors whites while simultaneously treating nonwhites exactly the opposite. These white privilege contributors are therefore positively racist towards white people while also simultaneously being negatively racist towards nonwhites. Reaching the 50% threshold requires that somewhere between 17% and 83% of whites are racist.
The evidence seems pretty clear. This rather simplistic math is likely at the heart of why so many white people so strenuously object to the term “white privilege”. While perhaps not everyone does the exact math, people are generally smart enough to understand the results by intuitive. And, turns out, people don’t like to be called racist.
In conclusion, it becomes obvious then that President Biden’s executive order to “re-educate” federal employees is an official statement from the Biden administration that over 163 million Americans and up to 83% of American whites are racist assholes. While we completely understand that this was most certainly the case in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the last time President Biden likely possessed his full mental faculties; meager as they may have been, we do not believe that is the case today, nor do we believe that calling over half of Americans and up to 83% of American whites racist is a productive means to an intelligent conversation regarding race in America. Way to lead and “unite” the country there gramps.