What privilege is really about
Anne Frank faced problems but …
This article is taken from the August/September 2022 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issues for just £10.
I have been thinking this week about privilege.
A common myth about privilege is that it is somehow related to class or money. But the truth is that a black millionaire is lower on the privilege hierarchy than the most destitute of white males. If Oprah Winfrey were to kick a white orphan boy in the face, she would still be the one being oppressed. In fact, the orphan would owe her an apology.
Not that I am insensitive to the plight of the poor. Believe it or not, there are families out there who can’t even afford to buy a dedicated wine fridge. I really don’t know how people live like that.
But that’s not what privilege is about. As a non-white non-binary vegan whose pronouns vary according to the phases of the moon, I am far more marginalised than any “homeless” person could ever be.
People often assume that I’m white because I have fair skin and I don’t have a criminal record. But although I may appear white on the outside, I actually have Native American ancestry. I may not have taken a DNA test or anything, but I have a fondness for trinkets and I really enjoyed Dances With Wolves. So that proves it.
Debates about this subject were raging on Twitter recently with various activists asking whether Anne Frank had white privilege. To which I reply: of course she did. Just like that appalling grifter, Helen Keller.
I’m not suggesting for one moment that Anne Frank had an easy life. And I very much enjoyed that book she wrote about getting stuck in a cupboard. But ask yourself this: would she have got a publishing deal if she’d been black? I very much doubt it.
So white people: be aware of your privilege. Acknowledge that all whites are racist, even if they’ve never had any racist thoughts. And remember that your very existence is proof of your family’s racism, because the only reason white people have children is so that they can simulate the experience of owning a slave.
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