Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., invited Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Ph.D., to come and speak. Jeffries, associate professor of history at the Ohio State University, titled his address “1619: An American Journey. 400 Years of Triumph and Tragedy.“ As a person of color, Jeffries had earned the right to speak of the myriad challenges and injustices endured by the descendants of enslaved people in our country. I heard him speak on Dec. 5. He spoke in a warm, authentic, knowledgeable manner, worthy of courageous predecessors who dared to speak truth to those unwilling or unable to hear how the African American experience in the United States differs from the majority white population’s experience.

He related as only a historian can, referencing the Middle Passage, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate and how it was built by the labor of those enslaved -- adults and children alike -- and addressing current events and the discrepancies of judgments in our legal system. He related as a professor whose very profession necessitates continual learning and the ability to positively encounter and influence others whose understandings of history are rather shallow by comparison.

Upon returning home to Dayton on the seventh, I read the Viewpoint “The Myth Of White Privilege” on the editorial page. I was particularly struck by the author’s statement, “I am white, and I confess that I have enjoyed many privileges. But none of them had anything to do with my race.” It occurred to me that so often in life “we don’t know what we don’t know.” Until and unless we, as Anglo-Americans, allow ourselves to be open to exploring the life experiences of our African American countrymen and women, we truly don’t know what we don’t know.

Race is an uncomfortable issue to explore. It’s difficult to find places of safety where we can speak openly and honestly about our experiences and the views we hold as a result of them. Many say, “I’m not a racist,” yet are unaware of the many systemic racial injustices inflicted on people of color. Starting with the writing of our Constitution when those of African descent were judged to be just three-fifths of a person, to the struggle for civil rights and voting rights, to redlining, to today’s discriminatory massive incarceration of African Americans, our country was conceived and continues to be one of “white privilege.”

As a white woman, I travel with little concern for my safety. I expect to be treated in a respectful manner. I endure no slurs or name-calling. I am viewed without suspicion and perceived to be safe. Suffragettes a century ago fought for my right to vote, a right African Americans waited many more decades to see and often now find their rights suppressed. I used to take all of these situations for granted before understanding that, to large measure, all of these benefits are the result of the color of my skin.

There certainly is a myth out there, and it is that “white privilege” does not exist.

The Rev. Denita Connor lives in Dayton.

(19) comments

bootsielawson

The true enemy of blacks in America is the dimokkkratic party. If you disagree go to any major city and speak to the residents. If you are an educator go to the schools don't go to Dayton and write letters to the paper! What you will find are over 50 years of neglect by the dimokkkrat party. Students unable to pass core subjects. How can you expect them to be successful? You say white privilege , no dimokkkat cares about these children. They want them dead ,why else would they support abortion at high enough rates to eliminate the black race. That''s what planned parenthood will do just as it's founder said publicly "KILL ALL BLACKS".

LVW

Okay Bootsie.

prodigalson

Bootsie is correct LVW. None of the points that Bootsie makes can be argued against intelligently, because they are all true. Face it LVW, the demokkkrat truly is an evil party, and more and more people are beginning to realize it.

LVW

LOL. Tweedledee supports Tweedledum; shocking.

LVW

I am sincerely baffled by those of who that claim white privilege is a myth. The corridors of power of this country were populated by white men for many decades, and it is human nature to be most comfortable with those we look and act like. Women know this all too well. So why does it surprise you that those who are non-white have been, and continue to be, at a disadvantage? I cited (well, recited, since Whaler brought it up and I didn't pay attention) the well-documented sentencing disparities between whites and non-whites, and then was accused of being biased myself. (Whaaat?) Other examples abound, all stemming from unease of whites around non-whites. Affirmative action in hiring was formed to combat that. Yet, even with that, non-whites have to deal with the perception that they weren't really the best candidate for the job (as Walter Williams has pointed out ... God, did I just say that?), but rather that they were hired just because they weren't white. Anyway, my original point still stands: a white person is not going to notice white privilege. If you really want to know what the story is, ask a non-white friend.

brokenanvil

LVW, you need not be baffled. Without going into what would be a lengthy recitation on my own experiences, observations and perspective, I will just say that there are white individuals who have not, and do not, benefit from any sort of privilege, much less that of the “white” variety. And I’ve enjoyed the friendship of a number of non-white individuals, though it is likely that in the current era I would be mocked and ridiculed for saying so by the same people who espouse the theory of “white privilege”.

Donald

It is sad that Christianity, being a pillar of Western Civilization may have become the actual enemy of the Western world -- or, I guess I should say the organized church. This seems to have come about by the corruption of the theological concept of universalism into a secular concept of universalism. I think it was Oswald Spengler who said Christian theology was the grandmother of Bolshevism. He may have been correct. Somewhat ironic.

Anyway, when the church has become little more than just another Political Action Committee or a secular “progressive” community activist organization hiding behind the veil of Christendom how is it to be taken seriously by the Christian, atheist, or agnostic in matters of faith or the lack thereof?

prodigalson

Amen to that Donald.

Donald

To understand how effectively the weapon of “white privilege” works you need to recognize its genius. If a discussion is taking place and a person finds that their white opponent is winning a point they can simply say, “Hey, you need to check your privilege”! If the target is a fellow travellin’ “Leftist” he or she will instantly begin to grovel while quickly conceding whatever point was in dispute, or become hurt and take offense that he or she, who is a really good white “ally”, would be charged with exercising “privilege” over a saintly victimized non-white.

At this point the accuser simply charges the opponent with demonstrating typical “white fragility” and should “own it”. The opponent now has no real response since if she or he complains that they are not fragile they are simply re-enforcing the charge of fragility. If the opponent rejects the concept of “white fragility” the attacker then doubles down saying it is because you are exercising your “white privilege” to deny your fragility.

As you can see, it is genius. No matter how stupid the attacker may be she can still effectively use it to shutdown intelligent discourse. Genius.

Of course, for a normal person the proper antidote at the first attempt to play the poisonous “white privilege” card is to tell your attacker that you recognize that he or she has conceded that they have run out of argument and the discussion is over (the attacker will still call this an exercise of “white privilege, but simply ignore him) and walk away. Or, if you are in an irritable mood you can simply tell the attacker to go flap-jack himself, give him a smile and then walk away.

LVW

Yes, we are aware of your claims of the assault on the poor white Western man.

Donald

“Poor”? Goodness, no, Mr. LVW! I have pointed out the assault on the grandeur of Western Man, the assault on the rich heritage of Western Man and indeed the continuing attempted cultural genocide of Western Man. But, Western Man -- being both progenitor and progeny of Western Civilization, the greatest civilization the world has ever known – can never be “poor”.[beam]

LVW

White privilege can't exist because white people don't notice it.

Whalebroc

I never see any listing of what constitutes “white privilege”....only the term. Other than criminal sentencing, which your boy, fellow New yorker, slick Willie, put into effect, what makes up this hallowed status for whites?

LVW

Blacks receive longer prison sentences than whites for the exact same crimes, etc.

Whalebroc

What is that answer..........You literally posted, what I said not to with “Other than....”??

Were you distracted and posted it during the game? They almost hung on.....probably didn’t since you were hatin’ on my Steelers. Got the Black and Gold whammy at them.

LVW

Oh, sorry, yes I wasn't paying attention. That game was so painful ... epic choke. Does being pulled over for "driving while black" count?

newshound

Sure they do ... and I'm sure you have volumes of "proof" to substantiate those bogus claims. I'm sure you can produce the "people of color" senticing guidelines for each state. A statement like that printed for all to see really screams bias -- yours!

Whalebroc

Obviously, the good Reverend didn’t take many classes about the constitution. Misrepresenting the 3/5 provision of this document is ample evidence. If you are going to espouse an idea, perhaps you should get a more stable foundation on which to build it.

newshound

Just another biased black person who thinks he's all knowing about the plight of slaves and has all the answers...but actually only a lot of obsessive hot air!

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