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August 1, 2015 / compassioninpolitics

Criticism of Race Priviledge Theory

“it’s not an assumption. it’s a pure fact. if you are white and male then you have an inherent privilege to your ethnicity(or whatever) and your gender/sex. i don’t really wanna derail the thread tho so i’ll leave it at this”

I don’t know of any comparison, but middle class & rich minorities > poor white males.

For instance, particularly in urban areas with high population…..they will get the advantage.

There are various types of “capital”…..and various cultures or localities priviledge particular forms of “capital”
and races, classes, sexes…..aren’t universal (biology changes this a bit)–but more broadly.

The assumption of privilege….universally… just that… assumption.


1. My argument is that Priviledge happens based on situational cues. Its not universalized. (i.e. the rich African american suburbs in Houston, Atlanta, and most every other big city) verus the poor
Also, It still depends on the good/bad choices people make.
The priviledge authors aren’t particularly interested in having micro-based theory. They are interested in marco-changes.
As such, their theory has gaps at the micro level. Admittedly, my exposure to the theory was primarily 15 years ago–
and I’m intuiting an argument.

Should the African american from a rich suburb in Atlanta whose parents get a scholarship over the poor White boy from West Virginia whose dad worked in the coal mines? A broad application of our 60 second version of priviledge theory doesn’t have the nuances to deal with these real world problems. Even internal critiques however… cunningham……and perhaps even wildman and davis point to multi-dimensionality. I still think the suitcase analogy and #s list means that race gets the priority almost by default.

2. RE: Your example of privilege. Those people with whom a minority has good relationships–have the potential for qualitatively better relationships (ie they respect and love me despite my race & perhaps other categories).

The second, isn’t so much an argument as a paradoxical benefit.

3. Pockets of priviledge–not universalized. Listing a privilege isn’t a response to the situational argument anyway. Also, social capital is only useful if it is used and used semi-effectively.

I’m probably being overly aware or sensitive to the differences. But surely when we deploy category based arguments in debate (race, sex, etc…..)….we should be aware of how those codes and assumptions link to race (ie may be replicating the racism and stereotypes we are trying to overcome and defeat). Paying attention to nuance can be important in this regard.


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