“White privilege”, the word I heard for the first time in year 2016. I learned it during my travel, when a co-travel from Hong Kong mentioned it during a casual discussion among a group of volunteers. When she explained the idea behind it, I realized that I know this concept. It is just that I never had a term to tag it. One “white” volunteer simply denied it saying that he has never seen it. It just does not make any sense. The girl and I both looked at each other and we knew where the gap is and it won’t be possible to close it with just a verbal discussion. So, she left the topic and discussion took its turn about another gossip.
Fast forward 5 years and youtube suggested me the video titled, “Jordan Peterson Debunks White Privilege”. You can watch the video by yourself to see how he is defining white privilege and why he thinks the whole idea is reprehensible. A lot of public figures are now self proclaimed experts of almost every topic on the earth and beyond. He seems to take extreme sides and probably that helps him to get popularity as well. Isn’t facebook, youtube and other social networks known for the click-addiction algorithm blamed for the fact they promote extreme content? Well algorithm is nothing more than doing something at much faster pace than humans do otherwise. And Mr. Jordan in this case seems to be helping algorithms to promote the video and thus helping segregate the population to extremes.
I am sure some would say that he is right. And I am completely fine with that. Afterall a lot of people, if not everyone, are free to have their own opinions. But considering “white privilege” statement and to build an understanding that all white people are being blamed, could be ok for an extremist, but not for world known psychologist. Did he miss somewhere that most of the things do not exist in extremes, the way extremists would talk about it. But it also not does not mean that it does not exist at all. Any such “general” idea or concept has some kind of trend to it without implying that every single entity behaves the same way. Even when the rivers seems to be flowing to a certain direction, it does not means that all the water drops are moving in one straight line. Let’s just explore some other scenarios, which in my opinion, can be treated the same way as white privilege.
Italians talk with their hands and are less efficient. Germans are good at engineering, are hardworking and have dedication to details. Swiss are punctual, precise and follow rules; so much so that one can find jokes about such a positive sounding stereotype. There are many such stereotypes and you can build the list by yourself. None of those statements means that every single person behaves that way in the targeted community. But, in general one can observe the given behaviour in those communities. This does not mean people are tagging the whole community, but noticing a common pattern overall. This is a simple scenario as in general people take it lightly and do not mind about it. Once, e.g. an Indian was talking to a French colleague. Knowing that French wines are famous and in general French people like to drink wines, the Indian asked his colleague about wines. Frenchmen said that he does not like wines. Indian was surprised to hear and said, “How can that be, you are French, right?”. To this Frenchman replied, “Well, by that logic, do you have an elephant at home?”. Understanding the situation both laughed and continued their discussion.
Immigrants, temporary or permanent, have been the topic of discussion for decades. For last 5 years, one can find those discussion in much more highlights than before, thanks to American and to some extent global policies. As an immigrant, at social level, one always has some disadvantages. To make the statistics more skewed those disadvantages would be seen more often by those immigrants and not the locals. So, if a group of immigrants raise those concerns, it would be common to find a big portion of locals who are not even aware of those disadvantages. Some would not have faced it, some would rather be in favor of migrants e.g. companies who need those workers. But, it does not mean that this “unaware” group can declare this whole immigrant topic as a reprehensible idea because not all locals are responsible for it.
Being a woman
This is a big topic and I won’t get into the details of all of it. But, in general across the world one can hear one common thread. That is women are considered, in one or other way, inferior to men. Results of that consideration can be different from place to place or from country to country. There are so many groups fighting for women rights and positions. Some of them have taken extreme forms. Would it be fair to take those extreme feminist perspective and say this whole feminist movement or concern about women is reprehensible? In this case not just the white population rather whole of the male population is blamed now. It is not that all women are oppressed. I mean, is the queen of England not a woman? It also does not mean that women are all independent and feel free across the globe. At the same time it does not mean that men in general rule the world and reap all the benefits. Once again consider the royal family of UK. The truth lies somewhere in between with all its shades of grey or colors if you like.
“There’s nothing more racist than targeting an entire ethnic group with a collective crime regardless of the innocence or guilt of its individuals.” – Jordan Peterson
Image source : http://huffpost.com
Being a Muslim
This is probably even more a sensitive topic than the last one. Unfortunately, we have come to a state where, just because you are a Muslim or perceived as Muslim, you are tagged as a terrorist. All that people need to match is a different color, which usually is “non-white” a different sounding name with that image that they saw again and again on TV. A lot of people have no idea of that culture, variety that exist in that community and their own internal fights for right and wrong. But, if you are somewhat a vague match to that image of TV, you are tagged as a murderer or a walking bomb. Everybody feels free to call police on you and if they did, no one would take any action on the caller for any kind of disrespect or racism. It just all goes under the name of misunderstanding or mistake. I know couple of people who changed their name on social media so that it does not sound “Muslim-ish”. Will people listen to statement, “There’s nothing more racist than targeting an entire ethnic group with a collective crime regardless of the innocence or guilt of its individuals.” and say yeah Muslims are my brothers and let’s invite them home for parties? Again, I am not saying that Muslims are not invited to parties across religions or communities. At the same time it does not mean that some terrorist acts were not done by people who were Muslims. But we cannot take one extreme to reject the whole topic.
I can list my own personal experiences of observing “White privilege”. But I believe Mr. Baratunde Rafiq Thurston delivered much better and most funny speech on racism and privileges.
As humans we are bound to take sides, we are bound to make groups, we are bound to make generalizations. Some generalizations lead to funny stereotypes while others can become extreme racism and lead to the world of privileges and non-privileges. My hope is that in the world divided between smiles and frowns, in the world divided between laughter and cries, we can find more smiles and laughter.
When Mulla became an expert
Mulla Nasrudin, who had just passed his test for his first-aid certificate, was on his way home. Suddenly, he saw a man lying face down in the street. Without a second thought, he threw himself upon the man and began applying artificial respiration. After a while, the man raised his head and said, “SIR, I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO DO, BUT I AM TRYING TO FISH A WIRE DOWN THIS MANHOLE.”