Not equally privileged, but having privilege within the system due to the effects of the oppression. Nowhere did I say equal.
I would never say that someone is privileged, but that one has privilege in a specific way in a set of circumstances.
The whole point of this is that you cannot put people into large buckets, but instead look at facets of who they are in the context of where they exist and see how the systems either benefit them or not.
Yes. In that all white people in the United States benefited from the oppression of all black people through the systems that it setup and reinforced.
This does not mean that all white people have great lives and face no hardship, nor does it diminish the very real hardship that white people can face in many circumstances.
I would not say that they are privileged, but that when working within a system they benefit from certain things that other people working within that system do not have.
I can absolutely see how on the surface it can rub people the wrong way. I don’t know what to do about that, because the things it describes are observable in our lives… And maybe part of what that bothers them about it is a bad explanation or even the deep seated and implicit results of the discriminatory culture itself.
However, for example, any white male in North America, regardless of their individual experiences, has certain privileges that a women, or a black male, or a LGBTQ person, do not in those same circumstances. This is precisely not universal, but very contextual. It’s about the specific circumstances, context, systems, and relationships between them.
For example, and this is not hypothetical as it happened to a friend of mine: A house on a street burns down in the middle of the night. The family gets out ok, when the fire department and police arrive they question the black home owner as if he might have caused it. Only when the person’s white spouse intervenes do the police change their tone and approach.
We can talk about this in two ways, one in terms of police racism and discrimination, the other as the benefit of the doubt given to the white person the same situation. Both things are worth talking about.
Another real life example: I went to a coffee shop with the owner of the gym I go do, a black woman. There was a black man in line behind us. The coffee shop attendant asked me what I want, then asked him what “they” wanted. I was addressed, the black man was addressed, but the worker assumed that the black people were together and that the man would speak for both of them. With my white female partner we would still encounter the sexist assumption that I would speak for the couple, but they would never assume that I was with some random other white person. I am safe from that sort of assumption and from being made to feel what she felt in that context. In the same circumstances the three of us were treated differently…
I agree with @quixot that the concept can be both general and particular, but I think that is actually it’s power. It lets us look at the systemic influence on particular circumstances and incidents and place them within a larger picture. It is also what can make it hard to understand and communicate well…
It’s a far from perfect theory, but I have yet to hear a better one for describing what is happening.
If we think the popular discourse is broken, I can’t disagree there. I don’t think this term is the main problem in that regard and that’s probably a whole other topic.
I also feel like I’m repeating myself from earlier in the thread… so it might be time to call it for now.