I know and respect Rita Dunaway, so it was with embarrassment and pain that I read her Viewpoint "The Myth Of White Privilege" (Dec. 7).

Rita, you write "Our ancestors worked hard to build a society where anyone, through discipline and hard work, can achieve a reasonable measure of social and economic success." Our white ancestors enslaved blacks for over 200 years, then freed them, then made a mockery of that freedom by enshrining Jim Crow laws that kept blacks from political power. Blacks were subject to lynchings, church bombings and other acts of terrorism. They were denied equal educational opportunities. Legislation was designed to ensure that many black males were incarcerated. The trauma of that experience is deep, and not to be underestimated. Any minority feels vulnerable, and here in the Valley blacks live in an environment rife with Confederate battle flags, and monuments and schools honoring those who fought for the slave-holding South. These reminders of our past are part of our present. Just try changing one.

You then continue "The idea of 'white privilege' suggests that the system is rigged — that the scales are still tipped in favor of whites." Rita, I think this is the core of our difference of opinion — you believe the scales are now even. In limited space, let me describe just one dimension in which the scales are still tipped.

Many a red-blooded white Virginian with a gun in his pickup will tell you that the proper response to oppressive government is defiance. We honor such defiance, even when we are uncomfortable with it, even when we think it is ill-informed. If it comes to a standoff between the government and militant anti-government whites, our government has learned to start with respectful engagement.

Blacks have lived for centuries with repressive government, and black culture celebrates symbolic defiance of the system that has hated them. Many blacks express their defiance in their rap, their stance, their clothes, their glance, their “attitude”. Defiance is a virtue of the oppressed. They express their dignity by their defiance of the system under which they have suffered.

Why do we not honor black defiance?

Police, properly needing to establish control of a situation, often overreact to black defiance. Black defiant attitude is too often used to justify dominating and humiliating them — "Put your hands on the car!" Whites understandably fear those who have such a historically well-founded grievance against white culture. The expectation of conflict is all it takes for police to feel a challenge to their control, and things escalate, leading to increased incarceration rates for blacks, and sometimes to fatal outcomes. All of which reaffirms black perception of an unjust system.

Most of us whites do enjoy a privilege, the privilege of not needing to defy the system we live in. For the moment.

We fear the loss of that privilege, proving that we have it now.

John Fairfield lives in Bridgewater.

(11) comments

Donald

Mr. Fairfield, I do not think it benefits anyone to make apologies for other’s bad behavior or anti-social conduct. It simply provides an excuse for continuing both. That said, I do not doubt that you are sincere in your desire to treat others with sensitivity to their feelings – and that can and often is a good thing in individual and civil interaction.

As for “honoring” defiance, if one wishes to listen to or create Rap and all the vulgarities within (yes, I know that there are exceptions), dress in a “defiant” manner, display a certain glance, stance and attitude they are free to do so. It is also incumbent upon them to accept any negative feedback or consequences for having done so – just as all of us must.

Donald

One should keep in mind that the motive behind such terms as “white privilege” and “white fragility”, other than shutting down discussion, is to perpetuate the narrative that all “whites” are racist, always will be racist, and will continue to be racist even if they become a minority no matter how much they grovel – at the same time being told that there is no such thing as race because it is just a social construct, but only when applied to “whites”. In doing so all non-white races are being inculcated in the venom of the false Marxian oppressor/oppressive narrative of victimhood. Who would you say is the true benefactor of this false socio-political paradigm? Who do you think is most damaged?

Donald

As to your claim of ongoing political oppression and exclusion from political power of non-white minorities in the Land of Everlasting Racism, if America is an example of white “institutional racism”, “white privilege” and “institutional racism” then I have to conclude that whites are not or are no longer very good at it. One need look no further than a small town like Harrisonburg which has a black female mayor, black councilman, Hispanic councilman, black police chief, Hispanic Lt. Police Chief, black city manager, and an Asian HRHA executive director. Non-whites hold or have held a number of governorships including in Virginia, Senate seats, House of Representative seats, judgeships -- up to and including the Supreme Court, mayors of some of America’s biggest cities, etc. Oh, and an African American was also elected to the Presidency – twice. In corpo-world, Google’s last two CEOs have been Asian. Microsoft and Pepsico can be added to the list. News media personalities from the local to the national level are flush with non-white talking-heads, ‘reporters’, and other assorted gadflies. How many universities do not actively seek out non-white applicants as students, faculty, and administrators? How many public schools do not do the same?

At some point the church of the Holy Mother of Victimhood will need to have its doors shuttered and deconsecrated and its high priests defrocked – if for no other reason than for the good of its flock.

prodigalson

I just love being lectured by condescending, arrogant, hypocritical liberals about racial issues, while they wholeheartedly vote for and support their racist, baby killing, Klansman governor, Ralph Coonman Northam.

Whalebroc

Mr Fairfield is disingenuous at best with his comment of respecting civil defiance. Just look at the left’s and the media’s (redundant) depiction of the Tea Party back in the day. They were painted as sexist, racist, fascist, whatever. Pretty pitiful “show of respect”.

brokenanvil

“Many a red-blooded white Virginian with a gun in his pickup...”

I see what you did there.

“If it comes to a standoff between the government and militant anti-government whites, our government has learned to start with respectful engagement.“

Would that have occurred at Ruby Ridge? Waco perhaps?

And just for your information, given wrong place, wrong time; a “glance” can get you injured or killed.

LVW

ba: I appreciate your posts. Good points.

newshound

The big problem is some people can't accept the fact that other people commit crimes and defy authorities and thus suffer consequences. The looney Apologists try to use the "white privilege" hoax to provide alibis and excuses for minorities failures: from reckless driving to murder.

prodigalson

Agreed. Great post Newshound.

MikeM

Well if your solution is to defy the system, of course you will have problems with the police.

LVW

Perhaps, but the point is that those problems will be much worse if you are not white.

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