Opinion

‘White Privilege’ And The Oppression Economy

As we reported earlier today, San Diego State College is offering extra credit for students who can determine their level of “white privilege.” However, the progressive concept is entirely based on an insular view of the world—which leftists see as being run by “white supremacy.”

It’s not reality, and it’s one that promotes an oppression economy.

Professor Dae Elliot, who teaches sociology, has offered students in her class the option of earning extra credit for filling out a questionnaire with 20 questions asking them about the privileges they have, to show that “racial privilege is one form of white privilege.”

The quiz—titled “White Privilege Checklist”—cites Peggy McIntosh, associate director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women as its source for the definition of the term, “white privilege.”

She defined the term in 1989 as “an invisible package of unearned assets, which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I ‘meant’ to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, code books, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks.”

The term has been cited ever since then by progressive ideologues to promote the idea that white men are the only people capable of holding an invisible privilege over everyone else—effectively casting women and minorities as perpetual victims.

This belief has given rise to bitterness and enmity, especially among social justice advocates, who see themselves as crusaders of social equality by demanding equity or “fairness” in the form of reparations and benefits to make up for their disadvantages—whether real or imagined.

The quiz, which was provided to students in the classroom, asks 20 questions. I’ll take an effort to answer some of them.

“I can arrange to be in the company of people my own race most of the time.”

This depends entirely on where you live. A white, black, or Asian man living in a densely populated Hispanic neighborhood would have trouble finding company among people of his own ethnicity most of the time.

It also raises the question as to why you’d want to segregate yourself based on ethnicity. The professional world certainly doesn’t provide an option, and colleges like SDSU should be teaching students to be more open to a diverse spectrum of ideas, political beliefs, and cultures without the shadow of xenophobia.

“I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.”

I’m assuming the professor’s vaguely-worded question refers to the belief that black men are followed around by store employees more so than a white family. However, this may have little to do with race and everything to do with conduct—a group of teenage girls (regardless of ethnicity) is going to be eyed with suspicion.

I’d ask how white privilege manages to protect Asians in this instance.

“I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.”

Have you read the headlines lately? It’s nothing but politics and bad news. Beyond that, the United States is 77.4% white. An immigrant from Nepal isn’t going to see much representation in the media outside of the Dalai Lama.

Representation is nice, but no one is entitled to it. It’s not as if Chinese movies are filled with white actors—where they’re only ever cast as villains.

“I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the food I grew up with, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can deal with my hair.”

Once again, this depends entirely on where you live. It’s worth noting that rap and jazz music are popular worldwide, and people of all ethnicities enjoy them despite it being a product of African-American culture. If white privilege was as all-powerful as the professor claims, we’d only be allowed to listen to country music.

“I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing, or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.”

White Americans are routinely depicted as obese and unhealthy—even within U.S. media. Despite the existence of many slim and fit Americans, obesity is taken as a reflection of all white Americans.

“I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.”

Whites do have to worry about being considered selfish when they speak out against inequality—even when they aren’t leftists. It’s all thanks to the rise of “virtue signaling” among the progressive left, in which social justice warriors often speak out against inequalities—real or imagined—to earn social currency.

“I can take a job or enroll in a college with an affirmative action policy without having my co-workers or peers assume I got it because of my race.”

Most people wouldn’t have that assumption if you did your job well and lived up to the standards upheld by the organization.

This says nothing of the fact that Asians are actively discriminated against through admissions processes that serve as illegal quota systems. Despite the superior academic accomplishments of Asians in comparison to every other ethnicity, roughly the same percentage of African-Americans, Hispanics, whites and Asians were admitted to Harvard every year.

“I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.”

Stop showing up late. That’s just rude. Beyond that, tardiness is also a stereotypical trait of Italians and Spanish people from Europe. They’re also considered white in America. How does white privilege work for them?

“I am never asked to speak for all of the people of my racial group.”

Nor I. This imagined victimhood stems from a handful of racial incidents in which bonafide racists assume the worst about a person based on the color of their skin—an act no different from what progressives do when they assume every white man is an oppressor.

“I can easily by [sic] posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, children’s magazines featuring people of my race.”

As can anyone else. Was this questionnaire written in 1957 or 2017?

“I can choose blemish cover or bandages in ‘flesh’ color and have them more or less match my skin.”

Ditto.

“I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.”

Only a racist would highlight your ethnicity and credit it for your personal accomplishments, or claim that you’re not as bad all the rest. The same can be said of social justice activists who condemn white people for the actions of dead old men in the 1700s.

This has nothing to do with white privilege, and everything to do with racism.

“I can walk into a classroom and know I will not be the only member of my race.”

This is not the experience of a white child who goes to a public school in a place like Baltimore or New Orleans. Likewise, an immigrant is always going to stand out—regardless of ethnicity.


Students who finish the quiz are also informed of other forms of privilege, including “gender, sexual orientation, class, and religion,” and asked to come up with even more forms of privilege.

After all, what would a sociology class be like unless it could come up with even more ways to be oppressed?

Speaking to College Fix, professor Elliott justified the quiz by saying it helped students to see things from different perspectives. “Only through processes that allow us to share intersubjectively, weigh all of our perspectives according to amount of shareable empirical evidence can we approximate an objective understanding of our society,” she said.

An objective understanding of society isn’t going to be one built on victimhood—but self-empowerment and strength. Everyone has their own struggles, but those who allow their struggles to define who they are will never make it very far in life.

The oppression economy can only handle so many professional victims before it goes bankrupt.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.