Publishing independent student content

BG Falcon Media

Publishing independent student content

BG Falcon Media

Publishing independent student content

BG Falcon Media

Join our team
Join the Falcon Media team for Spring semester - paid staff positions, internships, volunteer opportunities. Applications open now until October 13. Get the details!
The BG News
BG24 Newscast
September 29, 2023

Follow us on social
  • My Fiction Icks
    By Jay Grummel When you read as much as I do you start to notice common things in fiction that make you annoyed, upset  or even want to put down the book completely. I have a bad habit of not giving books much of a chance when they use some of these personal ‘icks’. However, […]
  • Poetry for Fall
    By Jay Grummel Poetry has a way of connecting us to the external and internal world. In poetry it is easier to feel a season and truly feel a piece due to this. Poetry has a subtle way of making the readers immersed into the world of the poem. With the air getting colder and […]

To be white and privileged

After many discussions about racism with white people, I am convinced at least 75 percent of American white people are unaware of the privileges we have as a result of our skin color. Of the 25 percent who are aware of those privileges, the privileges of whiteness rarely come to mind. Our society has a dire need for white people to talk to white people about racism since racism continues to be a major, almost unacknowledged problem. Justice is so important that democracy declines without it. Racial justice does not now exist.

Our white acculturation frequently occurs in an unaware way because we are so immersed in it. There is no easy way to undo the damage done over the last several hundred years to people of color by unaware, white, institutionalized racism. Perhaps it is fear of restitution for injustices and ignorance which keeps white people from doing much about racism. The after-effects of slavery are still with us.

Racism for many people may be considered the “R” word. Even though the “N” word is not frequently used today, some famous African-American people have said that no matter how wealthy, or how well educated you are as an African-American, you are still thought of as a rich, or educated N-word by too many white people.

A look at a wide variety of statistics about unemployment, earnings, death of newborn children, poverty rate, etc., shows people of color do not fare well compared to white citizens. What happened in Jena, La. or during the flooding of New Orleans to mainly African Americans would probably not have happened to the white majority. Just a few years ago, according to Charles King, an African American with a college education earned less in his lifetime then a white person with a high school diploma.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “A piece of freedom is no longer enough for human beings nor a nation of which Negroes are part. They have been given pieces but unlike bread, a slice of liberty does not finish hunger. Freedom is like a life. It cannot be had in installments. Freedom is indivisible, we have it all or we are not free.” People of color in our society today are not free.

While many changes have occurred in the last 50 years, changes have been fraught with attempts to avoid change by some white people. Most whites do not openly object to those whites who obstruct racial justice. The Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 mentioned our nation’s schools should be integrated with all deliberate speed. Yet in the South, 10 years later, only 2 percent of the schools were integrated. Anti-affirmative-action groups exist. In 2007, we still have apartheid here.

As a professional educator, I believe education is a key to noticeably reducing the injustice of racism. Racism reduction goes hand-in-hand with ignorance reduction. A part of the white acculturation (institutional racism) goes unnoticed by most whites. What we do not notice is the degree of control by people in power (the elite, mostly white) who evidently want to avoid schooling for developing self-direction and imagination. This avoiding is done by society, schools and universities filling heads of all students with pre-thought thoughts and trivia rather than, as Albert Einstein suggested, providing conditions for students to think thoughts that can’t be found in textbooks.

Our society and schools give lip service to self-direction and freedom. Our society is far from free for people of color and the lack of freedom is evidence of a lack of awareness since most white people think everyone in our country is free. White people cannot legitimately expect people of color to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps as our white acculturation often tells us people of color should do. We do not start the race for economic gain on the same starting line. Our economic competitiveness is somewhat like playing football with the white team playing downhill and the people of color playing uphill.

Ella Louise Bell, assistant professor, Sloan School of Management, MIT, said, “I think it has been very difficult once we [successful African-Americans] have achieved, and we have a good education, and we know we’re good – to run up against this brick wall – nobody wants to be perceived as a victim of racism or prejudice. It hurts. It deeply hurts.”

Conrad Pritscher is an emeritus professor. Send responses to his column to [email protected].

Leave a Comment
Donate to BG Falcon Media

Your donation will support the student journalists of Bowling Green State University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to BG Falcon Media

Comments (0)

All BG Falcon Media Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *