Lately, I have observed a lament being made by some non-white Americans about the whiteness of white Americans. Their lament goes like this: “Your whiteness gives you privileges that non-whites do not have, and you should apologize for it.”
The first half of that lament is reasonable. Historically, whiteness has enabled white Americans to gain things more easily than they would if they were non-white.
The second half of that lament is nonsense.
Me apologize for being privileged? Really? If you want to know what kind of privileges I had while growing up, then watch the movie The Outsiders. That movie is about the real class-warfare that existed in my hometown during the 50s and 60s. The poor white kids in the movie are the Greasers, and the Greasers are my heritage.
Back in high school, we poorer white boys wanted to cut out the little alligators on the Izod shirts worn by the wealthier white students, and we wanted to cut out the alligators with a knife while the Izod shirts were still being worn. Yeah, to us poorer kids, privileges were for the wealthier kids. Indeed, we poorer white kids had far more in common with our black classmates than we did with our richer white classmates.
When I was in high school, privilege was seen as a result of wealth. Students from wealthier families had the privilege of wearing Izod shirts, while students from poorer families had to make do with clothing of lesser quality.
Nowadays, one is privileged if one can afford to send one’s child to a private school. From the viewpoint of people living in the slums of Third-World nations, one is privileged if one is able to live in a home that has hot and cold running water. Non-white Americans usually live in homes that have those. So, should they apologize for their privilege?