White privilege is a term that has been thrown around in American politics without the right context or consideration for what it means. The most common use of this ambiguous term in modern political conversation is that it acts as a social force that advantages the white community by affording it "perks" that minority races are not afforded. Furthermore, because this force advantages those of white skin tone, the white community is therefore unaware of its advantages and cannot speak to the "suffering" of minorities. In the current political debate, this term has been used in such a way as to go so far as to shut down the success of non-minorities by chalking up their success to their so-called privilege.
This use of white privilege is highly problematic. Firstly, it conflates privilege with racism. This is an important notion to consider because it misrepresents the term in a way that lends itself to miscommunication. It has become a term in modern conversation used to shut down those who are not of minority status; therefore, instead of speaking about white privilege for what it is, a false correlation between being privileged and being racist has developed. Simply because someone was born with supposed advantages does not mean that he is oppressing those who were not. The way that white privilege is used in the news assumes that if you are not of the minority, you must, therefore, be contributing to the marginalization of that minority by nature of your privilege. This notion is ridiculous because it assumes that America is inherently a racist country where the reason that white people get ahead is because of their privilege. It is easy to blame the advantages of one race over another on racist ideology; however, white privilege has nothing to do with racism itself. In fact, white privilege is no different than normal privilege, but by coining it as "white", the term has been weaponized in politics to shut down certain points of view.
The environment that a person grows up in can afford them privileges that others don't have. When one group of people has advantages another does not, that is called privilege and it is no different when it comes to white privilege. White people have advantages that minorities do not. That does not make white people inherently racist, it simply means they have advantages. Let's take a closer look at the most popular example of white privilege cited in modern political conversation: Living without the fear of being arbitrarily racially profiled.
The most commonly referenced example of arbitrary bias against the black community regards unfair assumptions of criminality. There are a few aspects of white privilege to consider when looking at this issue. In regards to mortality rates at the hand of cops, yes, according to whole population statistics, black people are more likely to get shot by police than white people. However, according to accredited professor Peter Moskos at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, for example, when the statistics being used are looking specifically at homicide cases in the black vs white community, white people are more likely to die at the hands of the cops on the scene of the crime than blacks. This statistic gets skewed in whole population data because the rates of murder cases are far higher in the black community; therefore, on the whole, more African-Americans die.
To be clear, this does not debunk the existence of white privilege. There is clear proof of arbitrary racial profiling against the Hispanic and African-American communities when it comes to law enforcement. However, according to Department of Justice crime statistics, a much larger percentage of the African-American and Hispanic communities commit crimes than in the white community. What this leads to is a social generalization that is formed against disproportionately violent minority communities which says, "if you are part of that community, you must be violent." This assumption, of course, is false, but it creates a bias where people become more wary of those communities. This does not occur because America is racist. This does not occur because white people are privileged. This occurs because there is a legitimate statistical basis for this bias.
So, after all this, what is white privilege? White privilege is the bias that exists against minority groups that do not exist in the white community. It has nothing to do with actual privilege. It has nothing to do with racism. It is simply a term used to point out how minority communities are being marginalized. We cannot deny the existence of this marginalization, but we also cannot deny that it has a legitimate factual basis that stems from the very communities claiming to be disadvantaged.
The purpose of this article is not to disprove white privilege. The purpose is simply to show that there is often a misrepresentation of what white privilege actually is. The statistics commonly cited to support the weaponized use of the term do not tell the full story, because they assume that correlation is causation. They conveniently leave out other factors that may contribute to statistics that show racial socioeconomic stratification. We must also be careful how we use this term so as not to conflate white privilege with racism in America. Using this term in order to shut down the voices of non-minorities hinders thoughtful debate and does not lead to the betterment of minority status. We should be striving to find common ground through clear communication in order to combat true racism instead of contributing to the division among racial lines through the misuse of terms such as "white privilege."