On comments and ‘white privilege’

Use of “white privilege” on social media can actually decrease support for racially progressive policies.

We found that the term can increase online political polarization and lead to lower quality conversations on social media. In particular, the term drives some whites who would otherwise support efforts toward racial equality away from online conversations.

The Conversation, University of Michigan

A few weeks ago I posted my views on a particular video that had streamed on Disney+. Shortly thereafter both I and one of my readers were effectively attacked for our “white privilege.” I struggled to write an appropriate, thoughtful response but ultimately gave up and deleted the entire thread. The dialogue had become a violation of my own long-standing comment policy forbidding ad hominem attacks. I had, quite simply, lost my cool. Today I found the above quote and thought it described the situation rather well.

I’m not trying to expound upon the issue of “white privilege,” although the issue can be discussed at length without tossing accusations at one another. I just want to remind everyone that discussions on Pied Type are open to a variety of opinions and opposing points of view. After all, it’s differing opinions that make a comment section interesting. But when the comments, including my own, devolve into personal attacks or stray from the topic at hand, they will be blocked or deleted. If at any point you think I have failed to do that, feel free to “Contact” me.

21 thoughts on “On comments and ‘white privilege’

  1. Right on, sister !!
    The extremely insensitive Ricky Gervais says it as well as it can be said, imnsho (can’t find the relevant clip – sorry !), when he rants how you cannot be offended because it’s just the other person’s opinion. It’s ALL opinions – no punishments or cancellations relevant.

  2. I acknowledge my privilege but also realize that many of us – all races, genders, and life’s circumstances have challenges. I also wonder if “privilege” is the correct word as it implies a certain status that many would argue they don’t have. Interesting discussion.

  3. It’s always easy for things to go off the rails when the topic triggers emotions. Your response is well said and your policy a good one. I have dealt with a lot of difficult situations and don’t feel all that privileged myself, but I do understand that I have been cocooned in a protective bubble because of my white status. No one calls the cops on me when I enter someone else’s home to check on their cats. Traffic stops are upsetting, but not threatening. I got a new mortgage for my home with no trouble at all. I got into the school that I wanted and secured grants easily. I just don’t know how to extend my bubble to include others, but I’m willing to listen to other’s ideas on how to do that.

    1. If I had any good ideas for you, I’d happily share them. I know I’ve benefitted from being born white. That’s always been obvious. But I’ve not set out to exploit that or take advantage of or mistreat others. I’ve always tried to be polite and respectful to everyone and usually am treated the same in return. At this point in my life, that’s about all I can offer.

  4. What determines the arc of a society’s character? Why is it that Europe became socially liberal and slave-free well before the U.S.? Clearly, people often react poorly, sometimes violently, to government efforts at social engineering but then can turn right around and embrace something like gay marriage. It’s complex evolution for sure. Imagine China successfully restricting people to one child per family by fiat! Incredible! Empathy appears to be an inborn personality trait, you’ve either got it or you don’t. Leaders both with and without it rise to power, and it does make a difference. It’s a conundrum.

    1. I sometimes attribute our societal problems to the fact that we are a relatively young nation. We’ve not yet smoothed off the rough edges and matured beyond pioneer days, the Wild West, and civil war. And sadly, whatever progress we might have made seems to be eroding in recent years — more guns, more tribalism, hard-won women’s rights being withdrawn, etc. America is backsliding. Indeed, it seems much of the world is backsliding.

    1. Off hand I don’t know how to sign you up myself but you can click “Menu” in the upper right corner of this page and then “Follow” immediately under the Search box. Enter your email there.

  5. I also had a comment disappear last week. Should have mentioned it.

    On White Privilege – It depends on where you were born. Not worth much in the Arab world, or darkest Africa. Here in the USA though, the white kind is real.

    1. I’m sorry to hear about disappearing comments. Don’t think there’s anything I can do about it. WordPress is probably playing games again, but I’ll look into it.

      Yep, there are places in the world where being born white is a liability. Increasingly it just buys you insults here, too.

      1. I took a quick look at the WP forums, and there were so many comments listed under “Comments disappearing” that I just gave up and left. I know how frustrating it is to compose a meaningful comment , only to have it disappear. All I can suggest is if you spend a lot of time composing a comment, make a copy of it before hitting “Post.” Or if it’s brief, try posting again. If you end up with duplicate comments, I’ll delete one.
        Again, my apologies to all.

      2. The trick I’ve learned is prior to clicking the “Post Comment” button – highlight your entire post and then press Control_C to copy it (Windows OS)

        On the comment that I lost, I pasted it in new comment dialog boxes twice and only quit because I got the error “Previously Posted”

        Very weird.. It’s only happened a couple of time in my history with Pied Type, so no real worries.

      3. I try to remember to do the same thing, only with a Mac it’s Command C. And now that we’re discussing it, I’ve had several comments disappear. I had theorized that somehow I forgot to click “Post” and instead clicked to close the window. Or something. I dunno. I’ve given up trying to figure out WordPress. Too many changes too often for me to keep up with.

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