Checking My Privilege: Character as the Basis of Privilege

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There is a phrase that floats around college campuses, Princeton being no exception, that threatens to strike down opinions without regard for their merits, but rather solely on the basis of the person that voiced them. “Check your privilege,” the saying goes, and I have been reprimanded by it several times this year. The phrase, handed down by my moral superiors, descends recklessly, like an Obama-sanctioned drone, and aims laser-like at my pinkish-peach complexion, my maleness, and the nerve I displayed in offering an opinion rooted in a personal Weltanschauung. “Check your privilege,” they tell me in a command that teeters between an imposition to actually explore how I got where I am, and a reminder that I ought to feel personally apologetic because white males seem to pull most of the strings in the world.

I do not accuse those who “check” me and my perspective of overt racism, although the phrase, which assumes that simply because I belong to a certain ethnic group I should be judged collectively with it, toes that line. But I do condemn them for diminishing everything I have personally accomplished, all the hard work I have done in my life, and for ascribing all the fruit I reap not to the seeds I sow but to some invisible patron saint of white maleness who places it out for me before I even arrive. Furthermore, I condemn them for casting the equal protection clause, indeed the very idea of a meritocracy, as a myth, and for declaring that we are all governed by invisible forces (some would call them “stigmas” or “societal norms”), that our nation runs on racist and sexist conspiracies. Forget “you didn’t build that;” check your privilege and realize that nothing you have accomplished is real.

But they can’t be telling me that everything I’ve done with my life can be credited to the racist patriarchy holding my hand throughout my years of education and eventually guiding me into Princeton. Even that is too extreme. So to find out what they are saying, I decided to take their advice. I actually went and checked the origins of my privileged existence, to empathize with those whose underdog stories I can’t possibly comprehend. I have unearthed some examples of the privilege with which my family was blessed, and now I think I better understand those who assure me that skin color allowed my family and I to flourish today.

Perhaps it’s the privilege my grandfather and his brother had to flee their home as teenagers when the Nazis invaded Poland, leaving their mother and five younger siblings behind, running and running until they reached a Displaced Persons camp in Siberia, where they would do years of hard labor in the bitter cold until World War II ended. Maybe it was the privilege my grandfather had of taking on the local Rabbi’s work in that DP camp, telling him that the spiritual leader shouldn’t do hard work, but should save his energy to pass Jewish tradition along to those who might survive. Perhaps it was the privilege my great-grandmother and those five great-aunts and uncles I never knew had of being shot into an open grave outside their hometown. Maybe that’s my privilege.

Or maybe it’s the privilege my grandmother had of spending weeks upon weeks on a death march through Polish forests in subzero temperatures, one of just a handful to survive, only to be put in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where she would have died but for the Allied forces who liberated her and helped her regain her health when her weight dwindled to barely 80 pounds.

Perhaps my privilege is that those two resilient individuals came to America with no money and no English, obtained citizenship, learned the language and met each other; that my grandfather started a humble wicker basket business with nothing but long hours, an idea, and an iron will—to paraphrase the man I never met: “I escaped Hitler. Some business troubles are going to ruin me?” Maybe my privilege is that they worked hard enough to raise four children, and to send them to Jewish day school and eventually City College.

Perhaps it was my privilege that my own father worked hard enough in City College to earn a spot at a top graduate school, got a good job, and for 25 years got up well before the crack of dawn, sacrificing precious time he wanted to spend with those he valued most—his wife and kids—to earn that living. I can say with certainty there was no legacy involved in any of his accomplishments. The wicker business just isn’t that influential.Now would you say that we’ve been really privileged? That our success has been gift-wrapped?

That’s the problem with calling someone out for the “privilege” which you assume has defined their narrative. You don’t know what their struggles have been, what they may have gone through to be where they are. Assuming they’ve benefitted from “power systems” or other conspiratorial imaginary institutions denies them credit for all they’ve done, things of which you may not even conceive. You don’t know whose father died defending your freedom. You don’t know whose mother escaped oppression. You don’t know who conquered their demons, or may still conquering them now.

The truth is, though, that I have been exceptionally privileged in my life, albeit not in the way any detractors would have it.
It has been my distinct privilege that my grandparents came to America. First, that there was a place at all that would take them from the ruins of Europe. And second, that such a place was one where they could legally enter, learn the language, and acclimate to a society that ultimately allowed them to flourish.

It was their privilege to come to a country that grants equal protection under the law to its citizens, that cares not about religion or race, but the content of your character.

It was my privilege that my grandfather was blessed with resolve and an entrepreneurial spirit, and that he was lucky enough to come to the place where he could realize the dream of giving his children a better life than he had.

But far more important for me than his attributes was the legacy he sought to pass along, which forms the basis of what detractors call my “privilege,” but which actually should be praised as one of altruism and self-sacrifice. Those who came before us suffered for the sake of giving us a better life. When we similarly sacrifice for our descendents by caring for the planet, it’s called “environmentalism,” and is applauded. But when we do it by passing along property and a set of values, it’s called “privilege.” (And when we do it by raising questions about our crippling national debt, we’re called Tea Party radicals.) Such sacrifice of any form shouldn’t be scorned, but admired.

My exploration did yield some results. I recognize that it was my parents’ privilege and now my own that there is such a thing as an American dream which is attainable even for a penniless Jewish immigrant.

I am privileged that values like faith and education were passed along to me. My grandparents played an active role in my parents’ education, and some of my earliest memories included learning the Hebrew alphabet with my Dad. It’s been made clear to me that education begins in the home, and the importance of parents’ involvement with their kids’ education—from mathematics to morality—cannot be overstated. It’s not a matter of white or black, male or female or any other division which we seek, but a matter of the values we pass along, the legacy we leave, that perpetuates “privilege.” And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Behind every success, large or small, there is a story, and it isn’t always told by sex or skin color. My appearance certainly doesn’t tell the whole story, and to assume that it does and that I should apologize for it is insulting. While I haven’t done everything for myself up to this point in my life, someone sacrificed themselves so that I can lead a better life. But that is a legacy I am proud of.

I have checked my privilege. And I apologize for nothing.

Tal Fortgang is a freshman from New Rochelle, NY. He plans to major in either History or Politics. He can be reached at talf@princeton.edu.

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460 thoughts on “Checking My Privilege: Character as the Basis of Privilege

  • April 17, 2014 at 5:11 pm
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    Hi Tal ! Interesting article, but I think you misunderstand what people are trying to accomplish by telling you to “check your privilege.” When this phrase comes up, people aren’t judging you, telling you that you’re entire lineage has been privileged for generations, but that your skin color and sex genuinely make a difference in the opportunities you will have in this country today. Therefore, it is inappropriate for you to challenge the experience of a marginalized person who has had firsthand experience with oppression for his/her whole life.

    As a white male, you are most likely ignorant of the ingrained racism or sexism that lives in society today. If you were to hypothetically walk around in white neighborhood where you live, it is unlikely that someone will question what you are doing there. It is rare that you will be the only person of color in a room and have to speak for your entire race. Most likely no one will affirm your admission to Princeton as a result of affirmative action. Since you have never had to deal with these things, it becomes easy to believe that no one does and that people who say to “check your privilege” are being oversensitive to “conspiratorial imaginary institutions” (a phrase highly problematic within itself).

    No one is doubting your grandparents and great-grandparents had difficulties to overcome. However that entire story is just an example of “oppression olympics” and is totally irrelevant when it comes to privilege. Your privilege has nothing to do with them, but rather with the fact that because of their skin color, your grandparents were *allowed* to enter the country and start businesses without being crippled by segregation. Your father never faced roadblocks in his career due to racism (look up studies on race and employment…they have found that even white men with criminal records are more likely to be hired than black males with none). Basically, you’re telling the (genuinely inspiring) story of your parents/grandparents without acknowledging how they benefitted from things that they probably took for granted (skin color, heterosexuality, ability, etc). That’s the whole point of telling you to “check your privilege”- these things that your parents probably don’t even think about often played *huge* part in their success, and thus your success as well.

    No one is asking you to apologize being a white male, they’re just asking you to take a step back and try and see how your perspective might be inadequate since neither you nor your parents encountered many of the hardships that marginalized people and their parents/grandparents have had to deal with.

    Robert Larson
    Stanford 2017

    Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 3:32 pm
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      “When this phrase comes up, people aren’t judging you, telling you that you’re entire lineage has been privileged for generations, but that your skin color and sex genuinely make a difference in the opportunities you will have in this country today.”

      Totally true. You will absolutely have fewer opportunities than a woman, or a black person (including someone who came from Nigeria a year ago) or a Hispanic person (including the child of a wealthy family from Argentina who came here two years ago). You’re pretty much screwed. Just be glad you’re not Asian.

      Reply
    • May 18, 2014 at 11:20 am
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      Very well said Robert Larson. Unearned privilege can be anything. Intelligence is unearned privilege that I acknowledge. Genetics play a huge role in how intelligent a person is. Intelligence is not an accomplishment. What we do with our intelligence is an accomplishment, such as educating ourselves, but we must recognize that the poor do not have the ability to educate themselves in the same way that the rich do.

      An average or below average IQ is not a personal fault, just as a high IQ is not something to be proud of. We are not responsible for our genetics whether they are advantageous or disadvantageous. Many other factors after one is born impact how well one learns to use the intelligence they have. In a world where there is white male privilege, the cards are stacked against everyone else, not always because of laws, but because of mindsets.

      Also there is no reason to feel insulted if someone tells you that you need to check your privilege because you are speaking or behaving in a white male privileged way. White male privilege is indoctrinated into children of all races and gender identifications in the same way Religions are, in societies that are predominantly white. In fact, the major 3 religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all have holy books that say God ordered and supported slavery, the subjugation of women, and racism. When a child is indoctrinated into a religion, that child is indoctrinated into believing in male superiority and privilege, whether male or female, unless the parents are enlightened. In my view this is rare among very religious people.

      The bottom line is that we are not personally responsible for our indoctrination, whether religious, or about white male privilege. For hundreds of years white European or North American countries have been the major powers in the world. In these countries white male privilege is assumed, normal and even taught, although not overtly, as that is not politically intelligent.

      As adults we are not personally responsible for our own indoctrination, whether the indoctrination is religious, sexist, racist or homophobic. I’ve had to change ways I behave, in order to avoid supporting the concept of white male privilege and I’m a white female who never bought the concept of racism, because my parents were not racist.

      I was however indoctrinated into the belief that males are more valuable and capable than women, at everything other than child raising, nurturing, housework, cooking or the caring professions such as nursing or teaching young children. As children get older, we see more male teachers teaching them.

      This affected my behavior in relationships with men. I was always deferring to men, against my better judgement. I meet with a lot of resistance from most men even today when I don’t defer to them. Most of them pull out the arsenal of insults at this point. I am a bitch or one of those man hating feminists. Good thing I am now at the point where I couldn’t care less what bigoted people think of me.

      We are not responsible for our indoctrination as children no matter what it was. Adults are however responsible for practicing self-examination and throwing out indoctrinated beliefs that we deem wrong or unfair, when rational morality is applied to the belief. I really wish more people believed in practicing honest self-examination over knee jerk, butthurt defensiveness.

      It also helps to understand what the concept is, and how it really applies to one’s own behavior before writing an article, that proves nothing other than the fact, that one doesn’t understand what they are getting all defensive about.

      Lori Scott Kaiser RN

      Reply
  • April 17, 2014 at 5:19 pm
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    Privilege is the fact that your grandparents were even allowed to start a business when they came into the country.
    You want to play oppression olympics? What about the millions of blacks enslaved in America for 300 years, who then had to deal with segregation and Jim Crow while new immigrants were allowed to assimilate into white culture within one or 2 generations.

    I hope you take some African American History or Latin@ history with your history major…maybe then you can actually understand what privilege means.

    Reply
  • April 19, 2014 at 2:59 pm
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    Its pretty interesting to read this article today given that last night I had the distinct privilege to get to see Angela Davis give a lecture at a local university.

    When people speak of “checking” and understanding one’s privilege it isn’t a call to check your own personal genealogical history. Being oppressed doesn’t mean that you can trace back your familial history and find the exact five family members that directly related to you that were persecuted. In fact it means quite the opposite. It means that people who share certain characteristics or traits as you (race, gender, sexuality, ability- to name just a few) have been so systematically oppressed through out the course of history that EVEN if they did make it to the golden shores of the great US of A they STILL couldn’t get a job, proper housing, access to education, health care, etc., based on these shared characteristics. It means that even if they did “get to the US” or were born here or brought here in captivity, and then somehow managed to “prove” themselves moral, just, and economically savvy, generations later their ENTIRE community is still being denied basic rights.

    Angela Davis is one of the most prominent activists alive today. She is the authority on so many fights for civil justice and her breadth of knowledge and experience is awe inspiring. One of the topics she touched upon yesterday was her involvement in the Black Panther Party. Davis enumerated for us the Ten Point Plan of the party- and I am sure most people would be surprised to know how basic the rights they were calling for actually were. Here is a link- http://www.blackpanther.org/TenPoint.htm.

    The Black Panther Party was formed in 1966. Its 2014 now- just two years shy of their 50th anniversary, and I think its safe to say that it saddened everyone present at the lecture to acknowledge that none of these 10 basic points of human rights have been achieved for the black community of this country. Since the “abolition” of US slavery about 150 years ago black people have been terrorized and mass murdered by white supremacists, have been denied education, equal facilities, the right to vote (thats still happening), they have been ghettoized, imprisoned in disproportionate amounts to their white “criminal” counter parts, have been denied jobs, equal housing, the list goes on and on. All this is based on race, and not on the spirit of entrepreneurial grandfathers. That is what it means to be systemically oppressed.

    I have no doubt that the young man who wrote the article has every right to be at Princeton based on his personal academic merits. But what is asked of him when one suggests that he check his privilege is for him to acknowledge that even though most certainly his family has dealt with oppression (whose hasn’t) the generations following that oppression HAVE been allowed to received education, amass wealth, and enjoy a higher amount of safety and freedom than those with darker skin (and in his specific case, more safety, freedom, and wealth, than those with vaginas.) It means that when he is walking down the street, regardless of his grandparents’ experience, he is exponentially less likely to be stopped and searched by the police than is a black man that might be walking down the same street. It means he doesn’t have to feel the constant fear of sexual violence and male aggression that a woman feels on a daily basis, it means he can marry who he likes whenever he likes and his rights will never be questioned by society at large. And it means that these rights are granted to him based on the historical privilege granted to white males. Period.

    That is what it means to have privilege that one might want to “check.”

    See the difference?

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  • April 29, 2014 at 11:09 am
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    Wow, okay, first of all, you have no idea what you are talking about in the first place. If anything, this entire wall of text of absolute meaninglessness proves that you are, in fact, absolutely ignorant to everything that goes on around you. You are completely unaware that your continued existence means that POC will suffer because of it. You suck in resources and money like the privileged piece of shit that you are. And who cares if your family “suffered” for a little bit decades ago. POC suffered then, and they suffer now, all because of you. I suggest you take a good long look at your life and decide what needs to be done with it.

    Reply
    • May 4, 2014 at 12:27 am
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      You and your ilk are all that is wrong with this country. Clearly Tal knows exactly what needs to be done with his life and it doesn’t involve being silenced by perpetual victims like YOU.

      Reply
    • May 4, 2014 at 12:50 pm
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      I wish I could simply laugh along with Samantha Benning’s comment, but Poe’s Law compels me to confirm that it was in fact satire. Madam?

      Reply
  • April 29, 2014 at 1:11 pm
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    The validity of an argument rest in itself, nothing to do with the person voicing it (including his or her privilege). “Check your privilege” is merely a way to silence certain group of people without actually addressing their argument, it’s another way of telling them they have no right to have an opinion in the matter.

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  • April 29, 2014 at 2:31 pm
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    “Oppression olympics” is as loathsome a phrase as “check your privilege.”

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  • April 29, 2014 at 4:09 pm
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    No one is suspicious of a black man walking down the street, they’re suspicious of hood rats walking down the street. Hood rats can be of any race. It’s amusing that the highest position in our country is held by a man that is a minority, and yet still… somehow… there is a claim that whites hold a societal advantage.

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    • May 17, 2014 at 7:31 pm
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      Yes, we have elected a black president. But his right to hold that office has been questioned from day one. No other president was asked for their papers.

      Reply
  • April 29, 2014 at 5:10 pm
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    Tal, Sadly those who have commented on your article were incapable of getting your point. “Check your privilege” is every bit as racist and disgusting as the crap spewed by the owner of the Clippers.

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  • April 29, 2014 at 5:32 pm
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    The three posters embracing this idea of collective white guilt, talking of slavery as something that just happened when it is an institution that ended over 150 years ago then saying that because someone is white they just have it easy is amazing! I highly doubt any of these three posters have “suffered” much in their entire lives and there attitudes and the continued pushing of this politically correct nonsense onto the general public combined with the increasing lack of intellectual rigor at even the Ivies is just more evidence. What do I mean by evidence? It is evidence that outside of business and STEM undergrad programs most colleges are just becoming junk in terms of the educational product they put out. Undergrads on many of our so called elite campuses are getting nothing worth while in the realm of education if this is the extent of their critical thinking process in terms of race, privilege, gender, equality and sense of intellectual inquiry.

    An Ivy undergrad diploma had weight at one point, as did degrees from many other non-Ivy elite schools, now they are nothing. It will be good for future employers to know that if your degree is in anything outside of business or the STEM tracks that a person who got their degree at the University of Phoenix most likely has just as good an education. In a sense you are helping to level the playing field and not even doing it intentionally, future generations of workers will thank you I am sure.

    I can only hope groups like FIRE one day turn the tide on this Orwellian insanity that takes place in an institution that is supposed to be about a well rounded education, a celebration of the liberty you have and open and honest debate. Instead speech, differences, or anything that does not conform to this Orwellian conventional wisdom is shut down by the campuses or the intellectually weak minded too fearful of being questioned.

    Telling someone to “check their privilege” based on their skin and gender is the peak of irony and tragic that it takes place at the University. Thank goodness you people let yourselves be known, I can just google your names in the future if your resumes ever pass my desk and know instantly you are not intellectually capable or resilient enough for employment.

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  • April 29, 2014 at 5:41 pm
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    To Robert Larson, who writes: neither you nor your parents encountered many of the hardships that marginalized people and their parents/grandparents have had to deal with.

    I simply cannot believe that you actually read the article and have the gall to make this claim.

    Reply
  • April 29, 2014 at 7:01 pm
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    Way to see unity beyond the shadow politics of cultural division.

    I am “white,” born in Connecticut. I have a dear friend who is “black,” born in (and fled) Liberia. We’re both “color blind” as being so does noting to heal what is matters most in what ails people locally and globally today.

    “Check your privilege” is manipulative and divisive tool of the politics of division and separation; one against the other; back versus white; hot versus cold; Democrat versus Republican. Out with it all. We are a human family, and love rules, in singularity.

    Thanks for your clarity and courage.

    Onward and upward.

    Reply
  • April 29, 2014 at 8:02 pm
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    The “thoughts” left on this piece perfectly prove the point the author made. You know nothing about this guy (or his family), yet you assign to him views he never expressed.

    His point is that saying, “check your privilege” is pretty racist. If your position can’t stand being being challenged, maybe you need to formulate a better argument.

    “Check your privilege” is not being used here to enlighten people, it is being used to silence them.

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  • April 29, 2014 at 11:18 pm
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    A person’s history is as important and critical to their present. To say that this author’s history is irrelevant to his current life, is unfortunate. Currently, the entire Jewish Holocaust has been attempted to be erased from history. This is not really any different then the erasing of native American history, or black history. If a black person does well in society they are chastised for “caving in” to the white system. They are not somehow separated from their terrible history of oppression, and applauded for doing well. Why should (in this case) a white male be separated from his history of oppression? To say that the author, as a white male, never has to face opposition is really untrue. Current events will tell you that Jewish people are quite mistreated in our society. Maybe some of you should be concerned about that.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 12:06 am
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    To Lilly Glenn — “Privilege is the fact that your grandparents were even allowed to start a business when they came into the country.”
    It might interest you to know that there were things called “NINA signs” (No Irish Need Apply) when my privileged forebears came to this country to do privileged things like working in the coal mines and building the railroads. It might also interest you to know that at one point there were more white Irish slaves in America than there were black slaves.

    “…new immigrants were allowed to assimilate into white culture within one or 2 generations.”
    The Chinese Exclusion Act was not repealed until the 1940’s. Japanese-Americans were put into internment camps as recently as that decade. Yet Asian-Americans are over-represented at prestigious universities (so much so that UC Berkeley is attempting to reinstate Affirmative Action laws), and in respectable career fields. By your logic, wouldn’t they have been unable to assimilate because of their race?

    I would assume your ancestors were whiny losers like yourself, but then, I suppose I’d be as ignorant as you.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 1:02 am
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    Thank you for stating this so brilliantly. At my job, I consistently interact with customers for an average of 10 seconds, and in that amount of time, I am able to make a good judgment of their character. Sometimes even before I see them and know their gender and race, I know whether they are polite, understanding, respectful, etc. These characteristics alone determine where I could see them with regard to prestige of schooling and occupation. Some people think that they have this “white privilege” and it is absolutely detestable to me, a white male. They think they are above me for some reason based on where I work (McDonald’s). No matter what your station in life is, if you think you are above me, I don’t like you. The occupation you might have can seem to be far more important (e.g. doctors vs. janitors), but every occupation exists because it is very important. If a job weren’t important, it wouldn’t exist.
    Yes, there some people who have what “white privilege” is thought to be (schooling and occupation handed to them because of money), but that is not the majority of white males. Which gender gets more scholarships? Females. Which race gets more scholarships? Anybody but whites. White males have almost everything going against them. Most of them get there because of their hard work and determination. Those who get to the top while retaining a sense of politeness, understanding, and respect to everyone they encounter without having a sense of entitlement—along with everyone else of that same status regardless of gender and race—receive my penultimate respect (my highest respect going to our veterans and those currently serving in the armed forces).
    MLK said “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'” — these values are the only thing that will make this creed be realized.
    “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”— without these values, this will never happen.
    “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”— these values judge someone by their character, the values they hold, not their color, gender, age, occupation, or any other outward appearance.
    Content of character is more important than any “white privilege.”

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  • April 30, 2014 at 1:23 am
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    Millions of blacks being enslaved in the United States for 300 years Lilly? I’m not sure whether to tell you to “check your math” or “check your history”.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 2:04 am
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    While I found many issues with the article, this one stood out in particular.

    “It was their privilege to come to a country that grants equal protection under the law to its citizens, that cares not about religion or race, but the content of your character.”

    Do you not realize that Jim Crow laws were still a thing at that time?

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  • April 30, 2014 at 3:41 am
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    What’s with the BS about 300 years of slavery – Blacks were freed long before this kid’s great grandparents were enslaved in Nazi camps, and Jim Crow laws were struck down shortly after WWII. Blacks are possibly one generation behind Jews on the oppression ladder. Who are probably another generation or maximum two behind the Irish and Italians.

    Harlem was a mecca for Black entrepreneurs in much the same way that Brooklyn was for Jews, and then the culture collapsed in on itself. Ask Bill Cosby or your local African immigrant, they can all see the emperor has no clothes.

    Regarding the Black Panther’s ten points, how many of those are natural rights and how many of those are dependent on other people?

    1) WE WANT FREEDOM. WE WANT POWER TO DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF OUR BLACK AND OPPRESSED COMMUNITIES. – Ok, set up and fund your institutions and control them yourself. Build a school, plant an urban garden (try http://www.growingpower.org/), open a restaurant, run for political office in your majority Black district. This is happening today. I think we check this off of our Black Panther to-do list.

    2) WE WANT FULL EMPLOYMENT FOR OUR PEOPLE. – no one can do that for you, just ask the Soviets. But you can do it yourself through culture and education.

    3) WE WANT AN END TO THE ROBBERY BY THE CAPITALISTS OF OUR BLACK AND OPPRESSED COMMUNITIES. – Done. Check. But you’re not getting the 40 acres and a mule. That ship has sailed, might as well ask your great grand-daddy to write it off.

    4) WE WANT DECENT HOUSING, FIT FOR THE SHELTER OF HUMAN BEINGS. – go ahead and build it then, no one is stopping you (except maybe building inspectors).

    5) WE WANT DECENT EDUCATION FOR OUR PEOPLE THAT EXPOSES THE TRUE NATURE OF THIS DECADENT AMERICAN SOCIETY. WE WANT EDUCATION THAT TEACHES US OUR TRUE HISTORY AND OUR ROLE IN THE PRESENT-DAY SOCIETY. – back to point number one, open a school, it doesn’t cost much to teach, we’ve been doing it for thousands of years.

    6) WE WANT COMPLETELY FREE HEALTH CARE FOR All BLACK AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE. – uh huh, and I want a secret sea-fortress. Tell me what else you want. Get your community to fund a charity hospital and pay the doctors to work there. Most doctors can’t afford to work for free. The good news is, an IV bag only costs a few pennies, vaccines are cheap, and there are hospitals that handle the basics for almost nothing in the developing world. Go apprentice there and bring back their techniques. Insurance companies have been scamming us all.

    7) WE WANT AN IMMEDIATE END TO POLICE BRUTALITY AND MURDER OF BLACK PEOPLE, OTHER PEOPLE OF COLOR, All OPPRESSED PEOPLE INSIDE THE UNITED STATES. – This is a good one. Keep up the fight. Police are assholes.

    8) WE WANT AN IMMEDIATE END TO ALL WARS OF AGGRESSION. – me too :-/ …this has nothing to do with color anymore. Ask your local Libertarian.

    9) WE WANT FREEDOM FOR ALL BLACK AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE NOW HELD IN U. S. FEDERAL, STATE, COUNTY, CITY AND MILITARY PRISONS AND JAILS. WE WANT TRIALS BY A JURY OF PEERS FOR All PERSONS CHARGED WITH SO-CALLED CRIMES UNDER THE LAWS OF THIS COUNTRY. – Legalize small time drug use. It’s the number one reason for incarceration of minorities and the poor.

    10) WE WANT LAND, BREAD, HOUSING, EDUCATION, CLOTHING, JUSTICE, PEACE AND PEOPLE’S COMMUNITY CONTROL OF MODERN TECHNOLOGY. – More free stuff. Sure. Go ahead and make it.

    Quit yo’ jibba jabba people and get to work!

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 3:53 am
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    I’m glad to see the fruit of your parent’s sacrifices and hard work have not gone to waste on a mind made into mush by modern “thought”. Have children dear sir, live well in this land, and pass your lessons on. God bless.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 5:35 am
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    Dear Tal,

    Thanks for this article. It opens a space for us to define what we mean by privilege and what we are asking of you when we request that you check it.

    I would like to share an amazing article that I feel addresses this issue brilliantly. The title of the piece is ‘Explaining white privilege to a broke white person.’ The opening lines of the article are: “Years ago, some feminist on the internet told me I was ‘Privileged.’ “THE FUCK!?!?” I said. I came from the kind of Poor that people don’t want to believe still exists in this country.”

    The author goes on to explain the concept of ‘intersectionality’. Privilege isn’t just about the color of your skin. It is also about your citizenship, class, sexual orientation, sex, ability, and gender. It is important to realize that you can have one form of privilege, but lack another. I’m going to say this again, because it is so important.

    YOU CAN HAVE ONE FORM OF PRIVILEGE, BUT BE LACKING IN ANOTHER.

    Why are these things considered privilege? Because you were born into them. You did not choose them and you had no control over them, yet they influence your ability to thrive. As the author states, “being a Straight White Middle Class Able-Bodied Male, can be like winning a lottery you didn’t even know you were playing.”

    Now, I want to address the subject of guilt. It is really important that you realize that guilt is not what people are asking you to feel when they say ‘check your privilege.’ To quote the author again: “Nobody’s saying that Straight White Middle Class Able-Bodied Males are all a bunch of assholes who don’t work hard for what they have. Recognizing Privilege simply means being aware that some people have to work much harder just to experience the things you take for granted (if they ever can experience them at all.)”

    As a last note, I want to ask this: why are your peers requesting that you “check your privilege”? I don’t know for sure, but it could be because something you have said is imbued with blind privilege. Your peers are not saying they know everything about your background or that you have never experienced hardship (what your ancestors experienced is not actually relevant, however). They are saying that your perspective might be different if you put yourself in the shoes of someone who has not had the advantages you have had. To be clear, you unknowingly described several forms of privilege in your own article above, such as having parents who were economically successful and attended college and being a natural born American citizen.

    Before you accuse your peers of being racist, I ask you to be open to the possibility that they may not be trying to dismiss you and discriminate against you. In fact, their views might be valid. Please take the time to learn more about intersectionality and how different forms of oppression influence the course of human lives. It may influence your views, and it may also influence how you interact with people who are concerned with issues that disproportionately affect certain marginalized and underprivileged groups.

    Best,
    Jessica Anderson

    Article reference:
    http://thoughtcatalog.com/gina-crosley-corcoran/2014/01/explaining-white-privilege-to-a-broke-white-person/

    Reply
  • Pingback: This white, heterosexual male student turns “check your privilege” on its head | Rare

  • April 30, 2014 at 7:33 am
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    It appears that @robert larson, @lilly glenn and @Camila Coddou are all dire need of a doctor to cure them of their anal cranial inversion syndrome. It astounds me that these products of two of the nation’s allegedly “finest” schools write such drivel.

    @Camila, dear, citing Communists may win you points at Princeton and with the DNC, but still won’t help you in the real world.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 8:33 am
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    I have some good news for the writer. Once you leave the institutionalized environment of a campus and step out into the real world, nobody talks like this and very few people think this way. Stay strong and stick to your guns!

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  • April 30, 2014 at 8:40 am
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    The three comments above show that Fortgang’s essay cannot penetrate all political correctness.

    Folks, read more carefully. He has a point to make. Asking “See the difference?” and studentsplaining what you think he doesn’t understand betrays your lack of introspection.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 9:01 am
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    Angela Davis is a Communist monster that still supports the political system that murdered tens of millions and enslaved hundreds of millions. Anyone that thinks she is admirable is also a monster.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 9:02 am
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    Right, Jews have always had it so easy.
    The judgemental, ludicrously ill-educated, and envious posturing of those who attempt to shut down others with “check your privilege” are in themselves the very beast they chase. Wise up kids. Judge yourself first and if you are pure, yeah right, then you can cast those stones but for now, throw a few in your own direction and get off your self-righteous moralizing anthill.
    I just love the rich irony of one ivy leaguer telling another to check their privilege. Do me a favor and read Animal Farm or Lord of the Flies and see where you fit. I’ll give you a hint, you aren’t Piggy or Snowball. As for Angela Davis being portrayed as anything but a thug, is surreal. Cheer her and her ilk on and someday they will come for you. And they wont be checking your privilege but cocking their guns.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 9:06 am
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    You’re absolutely right. Don’t let the haters get you down.

    Ilya Shapiro ’99

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  • April 30, 2014 at 9:08 am
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    I think this article was pretty courageous, and spot on. Everyone has some kind of challenge and we all have to deal with it. There are many cultures who have suffered oppression at one time or another, it isn’t as if a few of them own the rights to victimhood. So yes, I’m going to have to refuse to comply with your vague, angry demand to “check my privilege”.

    And no, as a woman I do not “feel the constant fear of sexual violence and male aggression”. If you are going to talk about violence against women as least don’t destroy the credibility of the subject by making hysterical statements. It deserves better than that.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 9:43 am
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    Checking privilege is just a reverse form of racism. No one is denying that racism has existed, but it is taught at home mainly. Whether it’s black on white, white on Hispanic, Hispanic on Asian, etc. I live in a college town with tons of ethnic diversity. To say that there is not equal opportunity is ignorant.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 9:55 am
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    The three racist haters commenting confirmed your point.

    Apologize for nothing and leave victims behind to wallow in their self-created prisons.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 9:58 am
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    The demand to “check one’s privilege” is nothing more than a logical fallacy dressed up with moral outrage–specifically the logical fallacy of ad hominem. A fallacy, I note, that the earlier commentators on this post are quite happy to engage in directly.

    Virtually all truth claims should be evaluated independently of the personal characteristics of the person making the truth claim. What is particularly toxic about this “privilege” nonsense is that ONLY truth claims made by a specific, defined group of persons are subject to the ad hominem attack.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 10:25 am
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    It bewilders me that the three previous commentators either fail to understand the plight of Jews until the mid-1900’s, or are willfully ignoring the implications of comparing a Jewish man to a Black man in terms of historical persecution and slavery. Yes, checking one’s lineage and finding family members in concentration camps is exactly like finding out that family members were slaves. A people group was enslaved and killed based on race in both cases. While we’re examining this whole subject, it might behoove investigators to delve into the enslavement of the Irish at the hands of the British, and the treatment of the Irish in the US until the 1900’s.

    This is akin to the spouting of “nobody knows how I feel” by a moody teenager, despite the fact that the previous generation felt the exact same way, only 20 or so years prior. When all vestiges of racism are eradicated in the USA, or heck, even in one city, who then will deign to ask a Black man or woman to “check their privilege” a mere 70 years later?

    Just as a case study, what about all the other historical persecution, enslavement, and genocide that isn’t black/white? Take the British and the Irish, wealthy Bostonians and the Irish, the Germans and the Jews, the Soviets and the Jews, the Jews pretty much anywhere, the Greeks and the Turks…or hey, the Hmong people and everywhere they’ve tried to live. What about the Serbs and Croats, or heck, even the Shia and Sunni? That’s Muslim on Muslim violence and oppression there. Turning a willful blind eye doesn’t make it go away. “Privilege” is an assumption, and until we stop making assumptions about our neighbors, we will not actually progress. The heart of this whole issue is anger, fear, bitterness, forgiveness, and love. As long as a person wants to tear anyone down, for any reason, more than they want to lift them up, we will have the problem of racism. If a person is bothered by a white male having any given thing, how is that any less racist and sexist than having a problem with a Black woman having that same thing?

    Racism is not something that can be fought to be beat; it must be loved out. I am no better than you, you are no better than me. I have a story, as do you. Regardless of our skin color, let us lift one another up and encourage one another. Even if a person does have this so-called privilege. Even if the person is one of society’s outcasts. No matter our station, no matter our origin, let us love one another, and care more about another than ourselves. Then, and only then, will we realize Dr. King’s dream.

    “But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
    We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone…

    I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood…

    And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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  • April 30, 2014 at 10:50 am
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    It is clear that there is human suffering, and there is extra special highly charged and delicious human suffering with a cherry on top, and the two have nothing in common.

    I understand this very well because I myself had a Jewish mother who was highly talented in this direction. No amount of ordinary human suffering, even if it might chance to be caused by her, or was highly visible, could ever pass through the one way permeable barrier in between them in her brain.

    Growing up I found this illogical and infuriating, but now I am an elder I think I will take the time to ponder this phenomenon and understand it better, not as an annoying game, but as something perhaps more profound and existential.

    Some of the people who do this are intelligent people and are perfectly capable of understanding it divides us and contradicts our shared human experience. But I don’t want to just dismiss this as a crass grab for interpersonal power. My intuition tells me there is something more important going on here.

    The article is very well written, and moving, and the comments, while derivative and lacking in personal insight, are clearly expressed.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 10:51 am
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    Dear Mr. Fortgang,

    I’m glad you are alive and appreciate the work and sacrifice of previous generations. People who are truly thankful for their blessings are rare in our day.

    I was listening to a radio interview of some elderly people in Louisville, Mississippi who survived an EF-4 tornado two days ago but lost their home and possessions. They said they are “doubly blessed” to be alive and have each other. The man, a Mr. Estes, said, “We’ve been married 40 years. I told my wife, tonight’s our honeymoon, tomorrow we start all over.” Don’t you think that is a much more healthy attitude than to look at their neighbor’s house and wonder why it wasn’t struck?

    It seems to be a common response to success (like making it into Princeton), that some will feel guilty to have been given a blessing. And in feeling guilty they will turn morose and attempt to pull you down. Maybe the burden of expectations is more than they can bear.

    In my opinion, the best response to such people is to revel in the blessings that have been poured out upon you, and share them widely and liberally.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 11:13 am
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    Good for you, Tal. It’s clear from these comments that these people do not get what you’re trying to say. I do, and i applaud you for it.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 11:40 am
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    The commenters above have completely missed the entire point point of the article. Judging someone based on the color of their skin and assigning them an assumed number on the privilege scale of life is not only impossible to do but morally indefensible. You’re making judgements about a person based solely on appearance and completely discounting the uniqueness of their personhood and the layers and layers of background history, both good and bad that made them the person they are today. It’s wrong when done to anyone regardless of what color they are and makes you a person who has a knee jerk reaction to someone based on what they look like. It also creates a society of ignorance where ideas and perspectives can be discounted because the person giving them does not meet approved standards of politically correct group think.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 11:43 am
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    The responses to this post show how pigs that walk on two legs squeal loudest when their hypocrisies are pointed out.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 12:00 pm
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    For those of you who are victims/products of the ultra liberal education – which seems to be the three posters here – it is still galling how little you truly know of history.

    A million or more European Christians were enslaved by Muslims in North Africa between 1530 and 1780; pirates (called corsairs) from cities along the Barbary Coast in north Africa – cities such as Tunis and Algiers – would raid ships in the Mediterranean and Atlantic, as well as seaside villages to capture men, women and children. The impact of these attacks were devastating – France, England, and Spain each lost thousands of ships, and long stretches of the Spanish and Italian coasts were almost completely abandoned by their inhabitants. At its peak, the destruction and depopulation of some areas probably exceeded what European slavers would later inflict on the African interior.

    White Americans themselves were slaves (I know, shocking, but if it’s one thing I’ve learned from dealing with Liberals and the Democrat party it’s that they tend to vehemently deny history or try to change it); one American slave reported that 130 other American seamen had been enslaved by the Algerians in the Mediterranean and Atlantic just between 1785 and 1793.

    While African slaves did grueling labor on sugar and cotton plantations in the Americas, European Christian slaves were often worked just as hard and as lethally – in quarries, in heavy construction, and above all rowing the corsair galleys themselves.

    The list and evidence goes on. I hope the next time someone force fed lies and blinded by propaganda and an insufferable ego has the audacity to tell someone to “check your privilege” they get a hearty “check your history” in reply.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 12:06 pm
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    All of you just discredit his complete article and go about on your own agenda. Come live in the deep south and see raw race interactions and then see all the exemptions that are given if one is a sub grouping or a “victim” status individual. This is 2014 we cannot move forward if we keep bashing each other over the head with the past. I hear from many people this need to be a victim to say I was oppressed I am special. We demonize white males then when they try and tell us how they feel or why, we demonize that. How is that any different than the treatment that many have had to deal with in the past, we simply have evolved it to transfer it upon a group that is a safe target. We talk of racism but we never talk of how the black tribes sold those they captured to other tribes prior to the whites, as slaves, then when the whites came they sold them to the whites. We just have this concept that it is all the evil white males fault. It is acceptable to bash a white male and call it a crime but not a hate crime, it is acceptable to call white males everything under the sun and they have to take it and not have any recourse because hundreds of years ago some white guy did a bad thing to someone. When the day comes and people are tired of blaming the white man for all the ills of the world who are they going to target next to blame? Many of you are demanding that the person that wrote this, see your side of things, as yours is the only way, the only right way of things, yet you dont even think of showing him the same respect your demanding he see’s in your thoughts. Who exactly is close minded here.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 12:52 pm
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    1. Robert,
    2. You logic is flawed. If you think skin color gives you opportunities then you are the raciest. Being a white guy that grew up in an intercity in an underclass household, being white didn’t give me privileges but disadvantages. I was the minority after all. I was denied entry into clubs like MESA because I was white so I didn’t need help. Unlike most of my peers I did not stay in the intercity. This is not because of the color of my skin but because of who I am and how I was raised. I own a house because my priorities are not $100 shoes for my kids but stability. I don’t have a babymama because I got married and am raising a family with my wife. This isn’t a product of my skin color it is a product of the values my parents taught me. Stop being ignorant and living in the past. Slavery has been dead for a long time as have segregation. You don’t think Jews have had racism shown to them in America? You are ignorant of the facts.
    Nid
    1992 Skool of Hard Knocks

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  • April 30, 2014 at 12:53 pm
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    Lilly,
    His actions have nothing to do with the privilege extended to his grandparents. Stop living in the past… it is 2014 and there is no Jim Crow. Keep the crutch but it only hurts you and those that lean on it. People are only privilege as long as you clutch that crutch.

    Nid.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 12:54 pm
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    Camila,
    Stop drinking the kool-aid.
    Nid

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  • April 30, 2014 at 1:11 pm
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    Camila, the Black Panthers lost me at “We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every person employment or a guaranteed income.”

    How is this a basic right? Being *given* a guaranteed income has never been a basic right. Having the *opportunity* for employment is a basic right, but not a free handout.

    Reply
  • Pingback: Check your privilege: a Princeton student tries and fails | Devoured By Lions

  • April 30, 2014 at 1:38 pm
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    A very thoughtful and interesting article and the comments for and against are blatantly unaware of the elephant in this room. This is also an AMERICAN problem in so far as there are still times when someone asks another person to “check their privilege” in a country that has a person of colour as President. This is considered to be a highly regarded position is it not? So at what point do people acknowledge the bias of race as an American problem rather than a skin color issue? People who live in other countries like Canada and Belgium, the Netherlands, France and more have their idiosyncratic cultural problems like many but there aren’t people asking white people to “check” anything. This is due to the fact that people have integrated and realize that everyone has a story and an opportunity. The premise that someone is being held down while others gain due to a cultural or socialized benefit propagated by a fashion or idiom of the day is not going to go away. Heck I’d love to be 3 inches taller with more hair and a deeper skin colour but that is going to urge me to point a finger at every white, blond person on the street or hiring office and ask for them to realize just how lucky they have it?? In 2014?? When does the whining stop and the work begin? There are always going to be people…stupid people who regard others as they seem to with arrogance and prejudice but asking people to “check their privilege” is another form of discrimination and prejudice. One doesn’t know MY story or backbround or hardships or strength of will to make better and overcome and I offer to those who read this thread to ask themselves….”who do YOU think wrote this reply?” What image came to mind? I’ll suggest you’ve make an assumption and a pre judgement. I ask you to check YOUR assumptions.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 1:58 pm
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    Let’s keep this simple. “Check your privilege” is an insult that says the recipient should bow their head in shame to the speaker. There is no constructive purpose for making this statement. It is a destructive and divisive statement of hatred, envy and/or prejudice that reflects the insecurity of the speaker. It is an excuse to claim that the recipient’s success actually belongs to someone or something else. It means: you got where you are because whitey gets preferential treatment. Tell that to Dr. Ben Carson.

    The “privilege” that too many are missing today is proper parental guidance during the years prior to college; knowing the vast array of choices there are, including the bad choices, and having a good idea of what’s required of each choice and what the consequences of making each choice are; having the ability to truly weigh the pros and cons of all the potential career paths. This “privilege” has far more to do with the success or failure of a person’s future than the color of their skin, their sex, their neighborhood, or their sexual preference. But sadly, too many of their parents either don’t have, or don’t believe that they have, what it takes to get this vital information to their children. And too many of their schools are unable or unwilling to get it to them. THIS is what needs to change!

    Only a culture change among neglectful and unknowledgable parents and schools can change the course of repeated generational failure. Statements of envy and hatred like “Check your privilege” merely reinforce the false notion that ownership of the problem should not be shared with those that fail. Social justice means empowering our young to make the right decisions in their lives. And the phrase “our young” is not specific to any race or ethnicity or other DIVISION of humanity.

    It’s time for the finger pointers to either point at the sources of the problem and get involved in the solution, or shut up and stop being divisive. “Check your privilege” is flipping the bird at successful people. Reaching out your hand can help break the walls of animosity and build the knowledge bridges to the future that are so badly needed. Argue over what the best solutions to getting career decision knowledge to our children are. And then get involved in implementing those solutions. Keep the “check your privilege” middle finger in your pocket.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 9:26 am
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      For a few months I worked as a high school tutor in a very wealthy school district in the East Bay. Parents there thought nothing of shelling out say $2500 to have a tutor help their kids with a term essay over the course of a semester. These were kids with schools ranked in the top 10 in the nation, who got further one-to-one help from UC Berkeley grads with every subject they might get a “B” in instead of an “A”. At the end of the semester, these kids went off to educational trips to Paris or on safaris in Africa. When they apply to college, they will get months of SAT tutoring and their parents will pay the application fees for ten or more universities.

      As freshman, these young people have no way of realizing that their background was exponentially different from those of some of their classmates. They are confident and have plenty of financial backup. They are free to concentrate on their studies. They recognize one another and create social strata without thinking about the implications.

      Maybe “check your privilege” isn’t the way to get them to see the uneven playing field on which the wealthy enact their lives. But it is perfectly ridiculous to blame parents for the problem or the decision-making processes of the less fortunate. The problems here are pervasive and structural — not the attitudes of the underprivileged or their parents.

      Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 1:59 pm
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    Man there are a lot of butt-hurt people out there. How about you folks stop worrying about what “privileges” others have and start worrying about what you can do to level the playing field. There is nothing to be gained by telling someone you don’t even know to “check their privilege”. It’s the insult equivalent of “Yo momma!”. It’s just something for the butt-hurt to say when they don’t have anything of substance to add to a conversation/debate. My advice would be to stop striving towards such aggressive mediocrity long enough to raise yourself up by your own bootstraps regardless of what the “privileged” do or don’t think about it.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 2:28 pm
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    I agree with Fortgang’s point in principle. His opinions and arguments should be met with relevant counterarguments, not some nonsense “check your privilege.” In Norwegian we call those kinds of arguments, directly translated, ruling techniques. Ruling techniques are tactics where one person uses demeaning and patronising terms and/or body language to discredit the other person, and thus make his or her arguments invalid not because of their contents, but by putting that person down. E.g. terms such as “darling” and “honey” and acts such as rolling ones eyes or laughing at someone’s argument. And let’s face it, “check you priviledge” belongs to this category. If one disagrees with his opinions, tactics such as these only contribute to lowering the standard of the discussion and should be below any academic debate. If you think someone’s background makes them incapable of understanding and empathising with other people’s hardships, then find out if they have ever experienced such problems in their life. If they haven’t, then use that, together with rational arguments based on sound research, in making your case.

    Regarding Fortgang’s text, the problem is that he does not make his case. He is obviously trying to prove that he is not privileged in the sense that he is being accused of, and that he has worked his way to where he is at the moment. But by doing so, he validates the argument of the very people he is having an issue with because he implicitly agrees that some people are indeed priviliged and can be judged by that. Thus, his blog post is contradictory, since his main point; don’t judge someone’s argument by their skin colour, is contradicted by his main argument; that he is not one of the privileged people. Also, his main argument about not being privileged is fundamentally flawed. He cannot prove that he is not privileged by referring to his grandparent’s harships. To make that argument, he must use himself and his life, and not someone else’s.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 3:42 pm
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      nope, not at all; you are wrong on every level. he says he is not privileged as a “white male”, but he also says that no one else is either. this is because the people who have succeeded did so bc their forefathers labored and sacrificed everything, not bc of a patriarchal system. this locates the source of privileged in hard work, not power or oppression. this turns the narrative on its head. “i am proud of my privilege, it means my parents sacrificed everything to make sure i had a better life.”

      lastly, the point of referring to his parents is to demonstrate the location of privilege, where it springs from. this man did not benefit from patriarchy, only hard working parents.

      QED, you are wrong because the author has relocated the source of privilege and made it into something that anyone can be proud of.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 2:29 pm
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    Nice to see that those responding have their politically correct talking points down pat. Nice article.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 2:44 pm
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    Camila, Angela Davis is an example of everything that is wrong with identity politics and the left. Far from being oppressed, she grew up in a comfortable middle-class family, attended prestigious colleges and adopted the ethos of the violent counter-culture. Her attempt to take over a courthouse in 1970 in a plot to free fellow Black Panther George Jackson resulted in Judge Harold Haley’s head getting blown off by a sawed-off shotgun owned by her. Davis fled and was ultimately arrest two months later. At her trial, she presented alibi witnesses who falsely testified that she had been playing Scrabble at the time of the slaughter. Eyewitnesses who testified to her presence in Marin were slandered as being unable to accurately identify blacks — because they were white. She is an unrepetent communist thug, murderer and perjurer. Nothing that she has to say should be of interest to anyone except a clinical psychiatrist looking into the nature of evil.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 3:13 pm
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    The kid is still exceptionally privileged and his story shows a shortsightedness that only exemplifies the privilege of his upbringing. His story is hardly unique – billions of people suffered greatly from the wars early in the 20th century, not just people of Jewish heritage. He doesn’t understand that once his grandparents made it over to the United States, they had the privilege of being white in a society where whiteness is inherently an advantage. Yes, they were poor and yes they worked hard, but so do millions of Americans of color.

    However, unlike Americans of color, they never had to face discrimination on the basis of the color of their skin. They had the advantage of being able to set up a business instead of being systemically repressed the way all people of color still are today. Tal Fortgang never had to face racial and sexist taunts, never had to consume media where people like him are invisible or denigrated, never had to face quotas or had his credentials questioned based on the color of his skin. When people look at him, they think “privileged” instead of “danger”, or “nigger”, or “chink” or “illegal” or “foreigner”. That’s the privilege he has and he should dig a little deeper next time instead of just bringing up the struggles of his grandparents.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 3:47 am
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      Wow. You’re not too bright, are you?

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    • May 3, 2014 at 3:57 pm
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      nope, this comment demonstrates how ignorant you are of basic US history. there used to be signs in the north saying “Irish need not apply”…discrimination against “white” people is an american tradition, and continued well into the 20th century. the derogatory term “Polak” was developed to describe polish immigrants who also met incredible hurdles due to their origins.

      people that you consider “white” faced many of the same hurdles that blacks and Hispanics face today. just because you are ignorant of basic history doesnt mean that white people had “privilege”….the Irish, Jews, Chinese, etc overcame this racism by working hard and proving invaluable to those around them, modern minorities (of which i am one) could learn a thing or to from this example.

      example: the Chinese and Japanese faced many “jim-crow” laws throughout the US, and were met with massive waves of violence at several points in american history…however, these groups make far more $$$ than the average american today because of the skills and ethic that their parents passed down.

      if you really think white privilege explains the difference between white/black/hispanic pay, then i guess “yellow privilege” explains why Asian-Americans make so much more than “white” Americans.

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    • May 4, 2014 at 12:54 am
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      Caesar wrote “Tal Fortgang never had to face racial and sexist taunts, never had to consume media where people like him are invisible or denigrated, never had to face quotas or had his credentials questioned based on the color of his skin. When people look at him, they think “privileged” instead of “danger”, or “nigger”, or “chink” or “illegal” or “foreigner”. That’s the privilege he has and he should dig a little deeper next time instead of just bringing up the struggles of his grandparents.”

      As a white male, allow me to “check MY privilege.” I live in a city in the United States which is about 70% black. I cannot tell you haw many times I have been called a “cracker.” I believe that qualifies as a racial taunt.

      Sorry about your argument.

      Reply
    • May 4, 2014 at 2:32 am
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      Caesar, You should really do some looking before you make your statements. Jews have been discriminated MUCH longer than blacks have. Have you ever heard of the pogroms in Russia? And rather than thinking ‘privileged’ when they see him, they might think ‘heeb’ ‘kike’ or any derogatory terms they might have for Jewish people.

      Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 3:18 pm
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    The more I think about this, the more I’m convinced that “privilege” comes from making good decisions. Starting with not majoring in Gender Studies.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 3:25 pm
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    Here is the 10-point plan of the Black Panther Party (with my comments added). To say none of this has been achieved is not accurate since trial by jury and legal representation are long-standing rights in this country. The rest of it, well, read my comments.

    The Ten Point Plan

    WE WANT FREEDOM. WE WANT POWER TO DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF OUR BLACK AND OPPRESSED COMMUNITIES.
    We believe that Black and oppressed people will not be free until we are able to determine our destinies in our own communities ourselves, by fully controlling all the institutions which exist in our communities.

    (Blacks can only be governed by blacks? Really? How racists is that?)

    WE WANT FULL EMPLOYMENT FOR OUR PEOPLE.
    We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every person employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the American businessmen will not give full employment, then the technology and means of production should be taken from the businessmen and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living.

    (Ask the old soviet countries how well that works. Or take a look at Venezuela to see how government run “jobs” work out.)

    WE WANT AN END TO THE ROBBERY BY THE CAPITALISTS OF OUR BLACK AND OPPRESSED COMMUNITIES.
    We believe that this racist government has robbed us and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules were promised 100 years ago as restitution for slave labor and mass murder of Black people. We will accept the payment in currency which will be distributed to our many communities. The American racist has taken part in the slaughter of our fifty million Black people. Therefore, we feel this is a modest demand that we make.

    (Deal. Now calculate all that black people have received in Welfare, Medicare, Food Stamps, Job Training, etc. and deduct it from the 40 acres and a mule cash value. I think you us the government a few hundred billion dollars.)

    WE WANT DECENT HOUSING, FIT FOR THE SHELTER OF HUMAN BEINGS.
    We believe that if the landlords will not give decent housing to our Black and oppressed communities, then housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that the people in our communities, with government aid, can build and make decent housing for the people.

    (Don’t like the government housing? I don’t blame you. Go to North Dakota, where the energy industry is booming and they are begging for workers, and live there in a dwelling of your own choosing using your own money that you make working in the oil fields for 12 hours a day. If that kind of work isn’t for you and you really want to try that cooperative thing, ask Oprah, Lebron, Shaq, and any other rich black folks who you assume agree with you to buy property and support your efforts to build housing that you like. Heck, ask Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer to donate some of their millions to the cause.)

    WE WANT DECENT EDUCATION FOR OUR PEOPLE THAT EXPOSES THE TRUE NATURE OF THIS DECADENT AMERICAN SOCIETY. WE WANT EDUCATION THAT TEACHES US OUR TRUE HISTORY AND OUR ROLE IN THE PRESENT-DAY SOCIETY.
    We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of the self. If you do not have knowledge of yourself and your position in the society and in the world, then you will have little chance to know anything else.

    (Welcome to Home Schooling! Christians do it all the time because public schools by and large suck at delivering true moral guidance. See? You really are not that different and have options you are not choosing to use. But you will have to keep paying taxes to support the sucky public schools just like the rest of us home-schoolers do.)

    WE WANT COMPLETELY FREE HEALTH CARE FOR All BLACK AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE.
    We believe that the government must provide, free of charge, for the people, health facilities which will not only treat our illnesses, most of which have come about as a result of our oppression, but which will also develop preventive medical programs to guarantee our future survival. We believe that mass health education and research programs must be developed to give all Black and oppressed people access to advanced scientific and medical information, so we may provide our selves with proper medical attention and care.

    (Not sure where you get the idea that a doctor or nurse, who spends years if not decades learning their craft, is obligated to give you their services for what some government bureaucrat thinks their time and effort is worth. Health care, like any other occupation, is just that – a JOB for which anyone who does it should expect to be paid what THEY think THEY are worth. The market will bear what the market will bear.)

    WE WANT AN IMMEDIATE END TO POLICE BRUTALITY AND MURDER OF BLACK PEOPLE, OTHER PEOPLE OF COLOR, All OPPRESSED PEOPLE INSIDE THE UNITED STATES.
    We believe that the racist and fascist government of the United States uses its domestic enforcement agencies to carry out its program of oppression against black people, other people of color and poor people inside the united States. We believe it is our right, therefore, to defend ourselves against such armed forces and that all Black and oppressed people should be armed for self defense of our homes and communities against these fascist police forces.

    (So you support the 2nd amendment and the NRA when it comes to government control of citizen owned arms? Welcome to the TEA party!)

    WE WANT AN IMMEDIATE END TO ALL WARS OF AGGRESSION.
    We believe that the various conflicts which exist around the world stem directly from the aggressive desire of the United States ruling circle and government to force its domination upon the oppressed people of the world. We believe that if the United States government or its lackeys do not cease these aggressive wars it is the right of the people to defend themselves by any means necessary against their aggressors.

    (Not sure how the US can be blamed for the Chinese takeover of Tibet or the violence in the CAR so the whole basis of this is wrong.)

    WE WANT FREEDOM FOR ALL BLACK AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE NOW HELD IN U. S. FEDERAL, STATE, COUNTY, CITY AND MILITARY PRISONS AND JAILS. WE WANT TRIALS BY A JURY OF PEERS FOR All PERSONS CHARGED WITH SO-CALLED CRIMES UNDER THE LAWS OF THIS COUNTRY.
    We believe that the many Black and poor oppressed people now held in United States prisons and jails have not received fair and impartial trials under a racist and fascist judicial system and should be free from incarceration. We believe in the ultimate elimination of all wretched, inhuman penal institutions, because the masses of men and women imprisoned inside the United States or by the United States military are the victims of oppressive conditions which are the real cause of their imprisonment. We believe that when persons are brought to trial they must be guaranteed, by the United States, juries of their peers, attorneys of their choice and freedom from imprisonment while awaiting trial.

    (The US has trial by jury, free attorneys for those who can’t afford to hire one themselves, and only people who are deemed a flight risk or a threat to the community are held until trial.)

    WE WANT LAND, BREAD, HOUSING, EDUCATION, CLOTHING, JUSTICE, PEACE AND PEOPLE’S COMMUNITY CONTROL OF MODERN TECHNOLOGY.
    When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are most disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpation, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

    (So that government abuse of the power granted it is justification for overthrowing that government? Again, welcome to the TEA party!)

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 3:31 pm
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    Tal – Yasher Koach and Kol haKavod.Your critical thinking skills will take you far.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 3:38 pm
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    @Camila,

    Economic control, free healthcare, juries composed of one race, and segregation by race, all of which are present in that ten point plan, are not “basic points of human rights,” but a socialists wet dream. There’s this thing called “reality” in which we all live, and absolutism (ie full control of community institutions by one race) are a pipe dream in America.

    Reply
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  • April 30, 2014 at 4:37 pm
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    @lilly glenn: This is 2014. You’re about a generation and a half late for the civil rights marches. Here’s the hard truth – EVERY American faces challenges regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or economic class. Each and every person you meet – from besties to acquaintances to strangers on an elevator – is enduring a monumental, pervasive crisis and possibly existential crisis you know nothing about. That is the sum and substance of the human condition. We all struggle. Is the world perfect? No. As Americans, are we all absolutely equal by every conceivable measure? Of course not. We are a planet of individuals being pressured by media to adopt a “collective” view of our existence. All of us can pretend to be First Person Pluralists, but at night, when the lights are off and we’re left alone with our thoughts – each of us is first person singular. Cut Tal Fortgang some slack. Sure he’s American. Sure he’s white. Sure he’s male. Sure he’s an Ivy Leaguer. Who knows, he might be heterosexual AND right-handed! But the point is, the institutional P.C. pre-judgement of Mr. Fortgang’s life based upon his gender, race, or current economic class is indistinguishable from Al Sharpton’s ranting about “Greek Homos,” Jesse Jackson’s ranting about “Hymietown,” or Joe Biden’s assessment that Obama is “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” “Check your privilege” is akin to Liberals bashing Ted Cruz for not being Hispanic enough. At the end of the day, for the collective to pass judgement upon the individual based on meaningless superficiality serves no purpose other than to perpetuate racism. If Mr. Fortgang takes exception to being shackled with your institutional stereotypes of his existence – I applaud him! Like every other human alive or dead, his life carries with it secret burdens about which you are painfully ignorant. Don’t judge his whiteness or his maleness (or anything else about him) merely because it’s easy. That’s the coward’s path.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 4:42 pm
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    I appreciate What you were intending to accomplish in this article because in a way I feel the same pressure. My family has a very similar story to that of your family in Europe and on the United States East coast as Jews. However, you are arguing that you have survived a lot of struggles yourself, of which only the benefits (not the paing) to you were passed down by previous generations.

    You tell us that you are mostly privileged by the values your parents passed down to you such as hard work and attaining education. My family has always told me the same things.

    But at the same time, you are suggesting that many of those who tell you to check your privilege were not provided values of hard work and education, you are accidentally condemning their parents to not having provided their kids good values.

    Most of the neighborhoods in which minority students drop out of high schools and don’t get a chance to go to Colleges and create a higher position for themselves is because their parents need them to help work in jobs immediately (This is NOT laziness, it is the benefit of immediate income). The reasons for this are often because they are from families that do not speak English fluently and cannot help their kids succeed in English language schooling or see the distant value of higher income if they are able to finish higher education many years later. Some of these kids do not even have parents who are in the U.S. legally (citizenship is something our Jewish relatives were able to achieve easily).

    Other minority high school students whose families have been here longer are jaded against pursuing higher education because their parents were systematically segregated from “white schools” and denied opportunities to go to college before the newer affirmative actions measures were put in place. They have good reason not to have begun to believe the system of higher education will favor them.

    These are legitimate reasons, not bad values passed down from parents, which end up recreating education gaps and different social classes. I know from having Jewish family that culturally Jews are one of the greatest proponents of attaining education. But the fact is, they were accepted into colleges half a century ago because of the white skin color factor. There have not been “Jewish Quotas” for students at Ivy league school since the 1930-40s and even then, they accepted some Jewish students when they were accepting no other minority students. My grandfather was denied from an Ivy league college for which he was an overwhelmingly good candidate because the Jewish quota, but he still had the chance to go to a very good neighborhood college in MA. There is the difference between having the opportunity for education and not having it.

    Based on the education factor, that you and your parents and close relatives have had the opportunity for elite higher education, I am predicting that you have family, relatives, or close family friends who are professors at East coast universities or hold jobs in business and could help you prepare for interviews for jobs or have contacts to help you succeed after college. Further, because my family is the same, I bet that your family tells you to pursue the job that you are passionate about (even if it is not the highest paying) because you are at least financially secure (whether or not wealthy) and you are not forced to find a simply secure job. You have the privilege to focus on subjects that you are passionate about and work hard in areas that you love, whether or not you choose to do so. What if your family had been systematically denied from education and jobs only decades ago, and you were starting from scratch as a first generation college student and knew no one in higher places.

    I know for my family, there are many resources I can reach out to once I graduate to learn interviewing skills and gain insight and contacts in professions I would like to consider.

    I am guessing that because you are from New Rochelle, you have never been profiled in your neighborhood or watched closely when you enter a store purely because of a physical characteristic you hold. Unless you did something specifically against the law, likely you haven’t ever had the police follow you around for no reason. I am just saying there are many different areas of privilege, too many to delve into.

    Being another white Jewish boy at a private college, I used to react very similarly to you when people would call me out, as I am very politically correct and try to be respectful to everyone. I did not have a high tolerance after a semester for being called privileged as though I had committed some sort of crime.

    I took me a long time to learn just how good I have it and that people are trying to warn me of these patterns of actual privilege. They are not just jealous.

    You have clearly accomplished a lot based on your hard work in school and you were also lucky to be given that chance! Just imagine if your parents had dissuaded you from taking on academic achievements and participating in extracurricular activities because they couldn’t pay the fees, provide you some time of transportation or you were needed to work……just as an example.

    I feel the same way you do and I feel lucky. I am very grateful that I got the opportunity to work had in all of the activities, musical instruments, etc. in which I was able to participate….and I did have to work hard, which should not be denied.

    You seem to have good intentions and are contributing to the discussion (I am sad to see that many of the commenters who have jumped on your article and agree with you are also leaving very strange and racist comments on the “college fix” website link., because it doesn’t seem like that’s what you intended).

    Best,

    Brent (Grinnell college)

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 4:45 pm
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    Camila,

    That charter is not entirely reasonable. Especially once you read beyond the “headlines” (posterity was fortunate in this case, that they were preserved inline.)

    1. Apparently we need to have segregated communities political institutions, because “black communities” (whatever those are…) should have only black folks “fully controlling all the institutions.”
    2. Apparently, we must become a socialist nation, because the means of production should be forcibly removed from those who currently possess them, unless *full* employment is reached.
    6. Apparently, we must have universal healthcare system, or the we are a racist nation that systematically oppresses people.
    9. Apparently, we need to *utterly empty our prisons* of all black folks, or we are living in a racist dystopia. Also, the bail system must be removed, and we must accept everyone’s “good word” that they will show up for trial.
    10. I can only assume “people’s control of modern technology” probably means more forcible appropriation from the existing owners of that technology.

    Tal,

    I think you did misunderstand the “check your privilege” mantra. The problem is that many of its most avid users misunderstand its purpose as well. I’ve heard it deployed to mean exactly “shut up” many, many times, even when the discussion had nothing specifically to do with people’s own *experiences.* We’d need to know more about the context of your discussions to understand whether or not people were using that phrase as an irrational weapon to silence anyone of a difference race/gender/orientation/whatever who disagrees, or whether it was a reasonable attempt to remind someone that they weren’t carefully considering what experiences other folks might have. My personal experience is that it is almost always the former, but it’s not always. And even in those cases where it is an irrational, race or gender-motivated weapon, it’s important (though it shouldn’t be necessary) to point out that even if it’s unfair, it’s not as unfair as the treatment many historically oppressed groups have received.

    In any event, just because something is *less* unfair doesn’t mean that it’s a valid, productive tool that folks should seek to utilize in their discussions. More often than not, it silences discussion and halts progress, at least in my experience.

    Reply
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  • April 30, 2014 at 4:45 pm
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    It’s amazing, what bigotry and racism look like, isn’t it?

    To see examples, please look to the three responses by Robert, Lilly, and Camilla, who justify their racism and bigotry because of who Tal is, or who they think he is. Their attitudes are okay, they say, based on Tal’s gender and the color of his skin.

    Irony and all sense, whether it be common or humor, are lost on ideologues like them. They have none of those attributes.

    They learn nothing from his testimonial here, and it is people like them who are the “Leaders of Tomorrow.”

    Sigh.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 4:46 pm
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    Check out this website: http://www.nymbp.org/reference/WhitePrivilege.pdf

    It’s great resource to what the people you are criticizing actually mean. There are some things in this world that you will only understand by having first-person encounters of them. You must understand that. Not everything can be taught. Maybe not everything you’ve done for yourelf has been a result of a racist patriarchy, but consider the alternative. A lot of things that POC’s have done is despite the racist patriarchy. Or a lot of things that POC’s could have done is never accomplished BECAUSE of the racist patriarchy. You say, “It was their privilege to come to a country that grants equal protection under the law to its citizens, that cares not about religion or race, but the content of your character”, when speaking about your grandparents, but the law is NOT applied equally when it comes to religion and race. The 19th amendment, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would not be necessary if this were true. Be mindful of this. Please don’t perpetuate the idea we live in a color-blind society. Race colors everything I do. My thoughts and the way I go about the day are influenced by my race. Don’t diminish that.

    Please contact me if you want to engage in a more thoughtful discussion. I attend Brown University.

    Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 11:42 pm
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      Honestly, I read through this list, and most of it comes from white majority and not white privilege. I am a white woman in a city that is 80% Hispanic and 5% black, and I could confidently say “no” to 2/3 of that list. Yes, I have been treated badly in certain restaurants. (In a little Mexican place in Homestead they wouldn’t take my order if I didn’t order in perfect Spanish. My ex-boyfriend, who is Mexican-American, had to order for me.) I’ve been to hair salons in all-African-American neighborhoods where they didn’t know how to cut my hair. I cannot speak in public without putting my race on trial. (Everything I did in High School was “because you’re white.” I was one of five white people in my entire graduating class.) I cannot arrange a social gathering of all white people unless it’s my family. When I go shopping alone, I am not safe. If I ask to talk to a “person in charge,” it’s very likely that I will be facing someone who is not of my race. (They’re usually Hispanic.) It’s very hard to get a job here if you aren’t at LEAST bilingual. And, the thing is, I acknowledge that much of this is because I am in a minority situation. Most people here speak Spanish, are Hispanic or Afro-Hispanic, and so the businesses and job market tend to surround that. The only things I could say yes to dealt with the world at large, like large corporate companies that deal to mostly white clientele or a media that caters to, surprisingly, a mostly-white clientele. A few of the things on this list are terrible and should never happen, but most of them just happen because people in the majority tend to run things.

      Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 4:46 pm
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    Eh… He doesn’t get it but then he’s only a freshman.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 4:54 pm
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    Bravo, Mr. Fortang! Be certain that you arguments will find no merit with the perpetually aggrieved, the profession bed-wetting class, and those whose chosen career is victim-hood. I for one, yet another male member of the middle-class tribe, applaud your stance. Hopefully your career takes you into the real world, because your essay has made you forever a pariah in academia.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 4:54 pm
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    Tai,

    As an “older person”, a white female who has been around the block a few times, I can tell you that anyone who says “check your privilege” is using a rhetorical device that would not have been tolerated when I was at school by anyone. It is antithetical to reasoned debate, and instead acts to shut it down, rather than engage in it.

    If somebody, in a discussion, thinks that my response is rooted in my white upper middle class background, then the right response is for them to point out for me what specifically I am missing. “Check your privilege” simply means “you’re missing something, in my opinion, but I can’t be bothered to tell you what it is, either because I can’t or because I won’t. ”

    It’s the response of an academic coward.

    Great article, never stop thinking for yourself.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 4:54 pm
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    It doesn’t matter if the folks who use “check your privilege” as a weapon to silence dissent are only committing a trivial act of injustice (and they are, when compared to the injustice they are fighting.) One can rail vociferously against ill treatment of minorities, and yet still defend *individual members* of some supposed “oppressor group” when those individual members haven’t actually committed the specific offenses for which they are being “punished.”

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 4:56 pm
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    How about this for priveledge;
    People of every color – tribe – creed – nationality, leave all they have ever known, their native land, travel thousands of miles, endure many hardships to get to the United States.
    And when they make it here, they thrive, prosper, excel. succeed.
    At they same time, fools born here, obsess about wrongs done before they were born, evil inflicted on people they never knew, and with their eyes fixed firmly on the dead past, whine, moan and belly-ache that they can’t seem to make it in the present.
    I apologise.
    I meant to say something about priveledge and instead wound up talking about stupidity.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 4:58 pm
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    Well said. Ignore these degenerate neo-Marxist detractors above me who imagine that your skin colour imbues you with some sort of imagined privilege. They fancy themselves as being able to see the Matrix, they are Neo and Morpheus, whereas the rest of us are plugged into a system an unable to see it for what it is. In reality they are more akin to Don Quixote, tilting at windmills while imagining themselves to be benevolent fighters for “social justice”.

    Apologise for nothing. Character is everything. Fantasies of “systemic racism” are just that – fantasies.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 4:59 pm
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    How about this: you people who cry and complain and whine about color and firmly believe that you can mouth off and say “Check you Privilege” without guilt remember obummer’s words. “You didn’t build that, someone else did that for you.” Swallow it, think on it, mull it over then get back on this web site and cry about color a little more. There are millions of us who can’t wait for the other shoe to drop so we can shut you people up once and for all. You sob’s want to fight racism, unfair color advantage or discrimination; stop talking about it, ignore it and let it die. I know, I know, you losers secretly enjoy the pity party and that is why you will always be second class citizens.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 5:05 pm
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    Tal is saying that students often condescendingly dismiss opinions coming from white persons. “Check your privilege” means “shut your mouth” about a topic that the white student couldn’t possibly understand. It assumes that white persons are simply too dumb and too privileged to understand racism and bias. Of course, this stance assumes that white persons have never been subject to racial taunts, racial bias, or racial “micro-agresssions.” That assumption is absurd.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 5:06 pm
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    Wow, so what each of you are say is that YOU are racist. You look at the color of his skin and say that he must check his privilege because he’s white.
    “No one is asking you to apologize being a white male” No, you’re telling him that because he is white he must think a certain way.
    “What about the millions of blacks enslaved in America for 300 years” What about the millions of WHITE slaves that were in America or did you not run across that bit of American history? Ireland was the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.
    “I think its safe to say that it saddened everyone present at the lecture to acknowledge that none of these 10 basic points of human rights have been achieved for the black community of this country.” That’s your fault not his. Minorities have been given opportunities far beyond what have been given to whites in the 30 yrs and what have you done with it? This white kid had nothing to do with the failing black family, nothing to do with black on black crime, yet you feel you have the right to blame HIM and other whites for what you’ve failed to accomplish. Sounds rather racist to me and for the record I am a mixed race minority and 48 yrs old, so I’ve had my share of racism.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 5:11 pm
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    To those telling Tal to check his privilege,

    300 years of slavery. And considering the first slave owner on US soil was Black the argument gets a bit weak.

    2,000 years of attempted genocides.

    Really want to compare notes?

    Reply
    • May 4, 2014 at 3:22 am
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      Ally, couldn’t have said it better myself!

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  • April 30, 2014 at 5:12 pm
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    Telling that young man to check his privilege is unacceptable. Should he feel white guilt for being born white? I think not. We live in a country where there are millions of poverty stricken people of all races, including white people. On the other side of the coin, there are many rich people of all races living here too. We will never grow as a society as long as the white man continues to be blamed for everything bad in this country.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 5:19 pm
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    Do not apologize for who you are to people who are going to hate you no matter what you say or do.
    UT Austin, Class of 1993

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  • April 30, 2014 at 5:23 pm
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    Great points, Tal. White Privilege™ is a pseudo-intellectual hyperpartisan construct invented to keep Whitey feeling guilty, even those particular Whiteys who may never have personally discriminated or even held racist thoughts. All part of the Marcusian, Frankfort School divide & conquer political strategy.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 5:24 pm
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    These defenses of “check your privilege” are right in defining collective privilege, they are wrong in denying an individual member of this privileged group the right to speak or express an opinion on any topic, based solely on their perceived ethnicity.

    The ability to speak to a topic should have no basis in the ethnicity, gender or the religion of the speaker.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 5:30 pm
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    “What about the millions of blacks enslaved in America for 300 years” Nobody was enslaved for 300 years. How about minorities quit crying and whining and blaming everyone else and do what the author’s people did and put maximum effort into making it. Stop crying about roadblocks and disadvantages. Blacks aren’t the only people with roadblocks. I’m pretty sure nazi persecution and killing is much tougher roadblocks that Jim Crow. Stop crying and making excuses. It’s called perseverence, not cry cry cry and walk down the yellow brick road.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 5:32 pm
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    Well done, Tal Fortgang. I’ll take this opportunity to remind everyone that almost every ethnic or religious group that has ever emigrated to the United States, or any other country for that matter, has faced prejudices in one form or another. Somehow only the American Black has failed to overcome those prejudices. Somehow, only the American Black has a culture with a 70% out-of-wedlock birth rate, a murder rate 7 times higher, and a robbery rate 8 times higher, than the rest of society. Somehow the American Black, while only 13% of the population, composes 39% of the welfare roles. This isn’t caused by “White privilege”, it’s cause by a broken culture; a culture that needs an external enemy to blame for its own internal problems.

    Reply
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  • April 30, 2014 at 5:33 pm
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    I see that a lot of “victims” are responding to the column. This “boo who” mentality serves only to divide and discourage. Life isn’t fair .. to any of us. So, to all of you negative responders, don’t drag us into your pity parties, and pseudo intellectual arguments about how bringing whitey down is going to lift you up. Your indoctrination into victim-hood doesn’t serve any purpose but to keep you from success.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 5:33 pm
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    While in graduate school I received similar comments. It didn’t matter my father was a union carpenter and worked side jobs while my mother worked as a secretary. It didn’t matter my brothers and I were the first in our family to pursue and achieve a bachelor level education. I paid for most of my education through having been in the service. My brothers worked on the side. It was the work ethic instilled in us by our parents which made our future education possible not because we are white males. It was not because we had financial resources. It was because we worked our backsides off.

    To say ‘white privilege’ stereotypes and denigrates those hard working individuals who get ahead on sweat and merit. Furthermore it assumes those who get ahead are those who have ‘trust funds’ or try to find other means to circumvent the system. The stereotyping belittles not only the effort, sacrifice and hard work of the individual but that of their peers of different ethnicity who have worked to be where they are and belie an undercurrent of resentment and racism towards white males which seem to be endemic in higher education.

    What I read in the other comments is people looking for excuses for their situation or people accustomed to living a life of fear instead of people taking charge of their own lives.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 5:34 pm
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    Yes! This! Awesome! As a second generation immigrant and a “Person of Color” (finger quotes) I could not agree with you more. Also, I think if someone told me in person to check my privilege, I would check their face on the asphalt.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 5:34 pm
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    As a woman ( yes I’m white ) who has worked hard to succeed in a male dominated profession, and as a mother of a young white male, I can honestly say I never ever want my son to feel he has to apologize for being a white male. Just because he is a white male does not mean he has to apologize for the injustices done by all the white males that have gone before him. Let him be judged for his own merits, just like I have raised him to judge anyone else, whether they be white, black, brown or yellow. I applaud you, Tal, for standing up.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 5:36 pm
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    It is quit clear that the people who are perpetuating racism are the ones profiting from it as well. College administrators and the like should ‘check their Privileges’ more so than anybody else.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 5:39 pm
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    Your comparing the black panthers who want to murder all whites because they feel oppressed to a kid that is thinking outside of the box and wants a better life for himself.

    Lets do this:

    Black panthers want to murder and have even offered thousands of dollars to anyone who brings In whitey. Zimmerman was Hispanic and not white. But the terrorist organization known as the Black panthers gets away with it.

    Instead of trying to kill the whites. Why not kick out all of the drug dealers and druggies. Clean up the neighborhoods. Get rid of the theives and bad apples.

    Help children to get a good solid education. Encourage the youths to go to school and graduate. Then go to college since Obama is offering grants just for black youths. Use it to your advantage.

    How about seek jobs that will allow you to grow. Don’t work for people you know that are bad for your neighborhood. Do start a community garden that will help feed everyone.

    Do help out seniors and disabled people. Take them shopping. Volunteer at hospitals and nursing homes. Become CNA and nurses.

    Instead of using an organization to hate. Use it to better yourselves.

    There are no slaves alive. There is no one keeping you down except you.
    No one is forcing you to act mean and hateful.
    No one telling you to hate.

    You choose to do that. Make better choices so YOU can have the life you want.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 5:39 pm
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    If you want to be successful and happy, you have two choices: you can take responsibility for that by learning skills and applying yourself and ignoring what other people think of you, or you can blame others for your not getting ahead and use all your energy on that. Life isn’t fair, but it is also not unmanageable for those who step up to the plate and earn whatever little privilege they have. Mia Love, Condeleeza Rice, Star Parker, Tim Scott, Alan West, Colin Powell, Dr. Sowell, Dr. Carson, Juan Williams, Michelle Malkin, Michael Armstrong, Senator Brooks, and on and on. These people did not get where they are by blaming others, no matter how guilty others were. Neither did the fabulous lady who waited on us in the breakfast room at the Holiday Inn Express today. When I asked her how she was, she replied, “I’m wonderful and so grateful for a good life.” It isn’t dependent on fame and fortune. Success and happiness is dependent on one’s own attitude.

    Reply
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  • April 30, 2014 at 5:40 pm
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    Hey Brother I just want to say that you are one hundred percent in point with this article. I also am of Jewish descent and find it hilarious that I’m categorized as “white” when our ancestry extends to the Middle East. Even though Arabs come from the same place on the globe they are not classified as white, nor told to “check their privilege”. Though my skin may be of a lighter color does not mean I or any of Jewish descent are “white”. Oh and in regards to these commenter’s who bring up “oppression olympics”. You are all ignorant to the fact that our people the Jewish people have had our homeland invaded, our people killed, kidnapped and enslaved several SEVERAL times over that last several thousand years. So 300 years of recent slavery and racism is nothing when wherever your people go in this world the are oppressed ie Egyptians, Babylonians, the Romans, The Germans in modern day and now Russians in Ukraine. So please, any of you suggesting we have “privilege” maybe need to check yours as someone of color you now have more privilege than we do when it comes to the academic and professional world. You can just throw Affirmative Action in everyone’s face and they will quake at the knees. I on the other hand cannot do so because I as a “white” male am now the most discriminated against in the academic and professional world. I am now the minority. So get off your high horse and “Check YOUR PRIVILEGE”.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 5:40 pm
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    From your story, I am missing an explanation of your own personal struggles? It is great that your parents were able to do so well despite being handed such a stacked deck, but I don’t see you at all interrogating the hand YOU were dealt. So no, you haven’t checked your privilege yet. Try again.

    Neither here nor there: Environmentalism is the maintainence of open lands for the benefit of not only your children, but all future generations of children not you’re own. It saves the ecosystem for all of humanity.

    Your parents passing money down to you isn’t compareable in that regard.

    Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 7:34 pm
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      Yo, bud. He doesn’t need to check his privileges, but you need to check your spelling.

      Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 5:41 pm
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    One question for all the activists out there “Who, in this day and age, ascribe labels upon a people better the society who wishes to live without them by labeling themselves?”

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  • April 30, 2014 at 5:42 pm
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    Good grief! If you seriously uses the charge of privilege today, you mark yourself as an unserious person. “Privilege” is a Cultural Marxist PC slur term that is used to intimidate people into silence. It is intended to thoughtstop. The Cultural Marxist double standard goes entirely the opposite direction. Jay Z wears an anti-white medallion to a Nets’ game and few people complain. Donald Sterling commits wrongthink and gets banned for life and fined 2.5 million. Why don’t you talk to me about white privilege.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 5:43 pm
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    Good for you!!!

    I was one of the people supporting affirmative action when it first came out and I wrote several books about discrimination. The objective was worthy and the task was accomplished.

    But it continued, with government inventing ever more ways to define something that was already nearly nonexistent. Individuals, firms, and society have been steadily ground down as we substituted reverse discrimination and suspected discrimination for the original intention of equality.

    And I stopped writing on that topic, disgusted by what had come of it.

    Good for you, and sincere best wishes. It is time for everyone to stand up and say “enough.”

    Laurie Larwood, Professor Emerita
    Psychology and Business Administration
    University of Nevada.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 5:43 pm
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    Excellent article!

    The three responses I just read mostly take the form of elaborate excuse making and demonstrate the power of External Locus of Control as a self fulfilling. It really do strafe how many self-appointed victims are mainly concerned with shedding responsibility.

    More people are made unsuccessful as a result of their own conceptions than any external limits…..CHECK YOUR EXCUSES!

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    • May 3, 2014 at 8:13 am
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      Naive much? Try traveling a little bit around the world and still be able to say there are people shedding responsibility because of some misguided interpretations of external forces. Facts are facts and you don’t seem to know them, yet you have a strong opinion of them. Check the mirror!

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 12:15 pm
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      Yeah,great. Then author of this excellent article is complaining about being victimized, too. But it’s all good, he’s a white male, so he’s allowed to – everyone else, quit whining!

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    • May 3, 2014 at 1:32 pm
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      It’s obvious that a subject that is the “Locus” of privilege can’t see it even if it’s right in front of him. I don’t think his opinions were formed in the Nazi Death camps, and the fact of his family’s suffering there are therefore no more a basis for his antipathy for the common man than his lack of experience of them. In fact, his reference of them could be viewed as an unseemly attempt to besmirch them by using them as an excuse for his positions. The really weird part is that he reflects the Nazi position on white power better than his family’s plight, for which I am truly dismayed for his ancestors, who must be turning over in their graves.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 2:33 pm
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      In America the unequal social relations of class are deliberately covered over by real but not fundamental relations of sex and race-thus the never ending focus on the latter two categories while the ism of class is under constant erasure. The occupy movement pointed this out however lacking any identification of structural determinates-very real objective structural determinations or programs of actions that would actually address these structures other than to try to somehow ignore or situate oneself outside of these determinates as if one could somehow situation oneself outside of the forces of gravity…..Hopefully the next mass mobilization will include these identifications and actions to eliminate them.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 3:47 pm
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      Great essay ! It is time for white folks to stop apologizing for their skin pigment. It is character, not color that counts.

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    • May 4, 2014 at 8:24 am
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      We don’t see people as “they are”, we see them as “we are”.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 5:44 pm
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    Tal,
    Consider the idea that a person who loses an argument is the only one who gains something from the exercise. That will turn you into a person with the ability to grow and not just someone others perceive to be an entitled asshole.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 2:58 am
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      Hey Whiplash

      It’s really an insult to paste your jacka$$ comment — one of those moronic made-up “ironies” liberals are known for offering in place of anything substantive.

      you are the one who lost the argument, because you lack the basic intelligence to understand when an argument was never the issue.

      People like you make your asinine comments in the misbegotten belief that you are entitled to speak even though you have nothing to say, nothing to contribute.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 11:04 am
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      Mr. Whiplash: How many people who have differing opinions from yours do you consider to be assholes? This label might befit the writer depending on the answer. Old Lady in Brooklyn, NY

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    • May 3, 2014 at 11:14 am
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      Poor Tal, he’s just being judged by the color of his skin, and not the content of his character.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 11:55 am
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      You haven’t responded to any of his points, and what you did write is rude (can you discourse civilly and restrain yourself from using words like asshole when referring to another human being?), and actually doesn’t make much sense. Perhaps you could explain why ‘a person who loses and argument is the only one who gains from the exercise.’ This implies that the person who ‘wins’ the exercise has a closed mind. Perhaps you meant isn’t. However, that statement still does not address his points.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 10:29 pm
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      So, Johnny . . . did you win here, or did Tal? How about you instead grapple with his actual points and whether or not they’re valid?

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    • May 4, 2014 at 8:23 am
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      “…a person who loses an argument is the only one who gaines something from the exercise.” Where did you get that bull…?

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  • April 30, 2014 at 5:44 pm
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    From what I’ve read in the comments above, just because he’s a white male, he automatically has whatever you mean by “privilege”. No one is denying that people of color endured cruel treatment and lack of opportunities for hundred of years in this country. The issue I see, however, is that blame is still continually pointed to white people that had nothing to do with the issues minorities faced in the past. I would think the younger generations would be past racism, but I see it is going in reverse. Just because white people owned black slaves in the past does not give today’s population the right to exact retribution on current white people. If its wrong for one side, it has to be wrong for all sides. Period.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 1:34 am
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      White privilege is not about blaming white people for things that happened in the past. White privilege is the collection of privileges that white people benefit from due to the way our society favors those of lighter skin tones. Telling someone to check their privilege is not telling them to feel guilty for events of the past, or to feel guilty at all for that matter. It is a way of asking people to be aware of how certain actions of theirs might be taking for granted the privilege that they benefit from, and might be offensive towards or marginalize certain groups.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 6:09 am
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      would be nice if it was that simple, but unfortunately the reality of things is so far from it. If you come from a world where black folk are the minority then you will never understand racism. you said “Just because white people owned black slaves in the past does not give today’s population the right to exact retribution on current white people”. but my question is when did racism die? i’m sorry that you still have to take on the brunt of what your parents and your parents, parents did. but honestly you nor your generation are far removed from their actions. trust me, because i’m part of your generation.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 6:49 am
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      Yes, indeed. That is the definition of privilege, those things that are different and advantageous only because other people perceive you in a certain way. It is not a matter of blame, it is a matter of measurable facts. The “blame”, if there were any, would be on the people perceiving him as a white male and treating him differently, not on himself for having been treated that way. What is on him is how he handles that. Does he admit its existance and work himself not to participate in those social institutions? Or does he deny reality and protect his ego at the expense of those around him?

      No one is extracting anything from white people. People are pointing out what white people, on net, are currently and continually extracting at the expense others. There’s a huge difference between those two. Racism is not a thing of the past: it is an ongoing exercise made possible by defensive protestations of ignorance such as yours.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 10:03 am
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      And this “no special white male privilege” afforded to all white males by virtue of birth is the issue that the writer wants to convey. It is crystal clear to those of us who were born into families of substandard earnings know firsthand the so called privileges that a marginal or sub-marginal living standard affords white folks, male/female alike. We learn fast that this notion is a fiction. Clearly for those of common means or less, “no special privilege comes with being white male or female; and this is ONLY untrue when you one is born into a family which is economically privileged,” PERIOD. And this argument in no way suggests or is meant to suggest that racism or any form is acceptable; it is not. But do not loose sight of the fact that it also racism to suggest that the color white of one’s skin affords one some sort per se, social privilege that others do not possess; this is simply untrue and it is racist to hold such a view.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 10:57 am
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      >No one is denying that people of color endured cruel treatment and lack of opportunities for hundred of years in this country.

      But the person who wrote this is denying that *not* having that history is a privilege. The author and you both miss out what hat historical repression means.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 11:57 am
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      What retribution are you talking about exactly? Do you mean the above average incarceration rate for black males for drug use compared to whites, adjusted for actual use? Do you mean the overwhelming evidence of bias against blacks in all areas of life? Or do you mean the retribution when white males complaining about how hard they have it compared to other societal groups are reminded that they are ignorant whiners?

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    • May 3, 2014 at 2:23 pm
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      In the past? Are you so ignorant that you aren’t aware that the overwhelming majority of American blacks work for the government because White corporate America is still so highly racist? Learn the facts.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 6:38 pm
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      Sir, research the facts regards “slavery”. For example, only approximately 05% of the South could afford to own a slave. Further, some of the slave owners were black. In fact several of the top 10 owners were black and owned hundreds of slaves. Most slavery today is practiced largely in countries considered “black” dominated/controlled/populated. The white race certainly has never had any title to “top rated slave owners”. From the research I have reviewed the South needed labor and such was not readily available much as is the case today whereby the Mexicans are able, willing & ready to work but others are not. Add that to the fact the blacks of Africa needed money and marketed their people away like cattle was a match made in Heaven. I also read research proving the North had most of the ammunition/arms production means, better food production, more man-power and arms than did our Southern cousins all of which made it difficult to believe the South went to war over 05% of it’s population not wanting to give up their slaves. I also believe the research established that within 5 years or so mechanized machinery would have reduced the necessity for continued slave labor. Research further established most slaves were well cared for, and, being the investment they were dictated such. In fact, when Nathan Bedford Forest, a known slave dealer, left for the war he freed all of his slaves. As luck had it several hundred voluntarily joined his regiment and fought beside him throughout the Civil War. Later on many of them journeyed to Washington DC to speak on his behalf to Congress.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 6:53 pm
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      I think you misunderstand “Check your privilege” does not translate to “your responible for all of your races crimes” or “you and your ethnic background has not experienced hardships.” His “research” wasn’t research at all. What he shou’ve been looking at is the odds that are against others as well as himself. How likely is he to get into Princeton over an African American?

      Chances of being admitted into a university are 78% more likely if your white as opposed to just 22% if you’re black even with the same grades. That’s the privelge.

      Accourding to us department of education percentage of bachelor’s degrees are 71% for whites just 29% for blacks. That’s where the privilege lies.

      A white male with a criminal record is 5% more likely to get a job over black man with the same qualifications. What do you think the odds are of a black ex-con finding a job at all?

      Racism and predjudice are not the same thing. Racism is the way the system works, it’s not just a feeling toward a certain race. We do not have the power to oppress or bring you down. The problem lies in the ignorance of people and the refusal to be leave and the very real obstacles people face merely for the color of their skin. Yet, this man is being praised for complaining about people saying things he doesn’t want to her. He didn’t check his privlege he checked his hardships and uses it as an excuse to deny his privelege still exists.

      When people say check your privilege they are not saying your life is easy or that you don’t work hard, at least if they know the meaning of it they don’t. Remember you aren’t the only one struggling and the odds are stacked up even higher for certain people. Don’t think for second that facing hardships mean you don’t have privledge.

      It’s not about pointing fingers. Things need to change. How can things ever change if people want to ignore or even go as far as to completely deny that the existence of something very real? Don’t pat yourself on the back for anything you do.

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    • May 4, 2014 at 12:47 am
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      We should also acknowledge and teach that not only blacks were slaves in this country. Some nationalit he’s were treated worse and thought less of than blacks. Also it was not just whites that owned black slaves. Blacks also owned black slaves. Also 1.6 % of whites owned slaves it was No majority of people. A much higher percentage of blacks owned slaves. When it co.es down to it why dint they blame one another? It was blacks of other African tribes that captured and first used them on sugar plantations prior to America existing and then sold or traded captured tribes to be slaves. The government only teaches what meets the agenda which is keeping people down and separated.

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    • May 4, 2014 at 8:25 am
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      David Price, I agree with you totally. This country can’t and won’t heal until we stop treating people based on the color of their skin. This victimology has to stop in order for America to progress.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 5:45 pm
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    I have been denied work because I am white. I have been harassed by police because, as a white, clean cut male on the south end of Tucson, I stood out.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 6:14 am
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      aww boo hoo. a poor old white boy found out what it is like to experience social/civil inequality. I have been experiencing this since I was 3, I am now 26… ain’t never complained…. plus you do know this comment detracts from what the author is trying to say right?!

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 6:27 am
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      Did you ever read the book “Black Like Me” which is non-fiction about a White Texan who, under the care of a doctor, artificially changes the color of his skin and passes as Black? Did you ever hear of the word “empathy”

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 10:02 am
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      Quit blaming external conspiracies for your failures and point your criticism inward and take responsibility.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 11:44 am
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      Actually as a white male I have been harassed by police for being in the wrong part of Los Angeles. I was new to town and didn’t know white folk aren’t appreciated in that area. They assumed I there to purchase drugs. ( The truth is I was – I was looking for Right Aid in the area – but the cops assumed I was trying to get a different kind of drugs)

      This was a few years back but then I was also stopped last year in Texas in a small town because I looked out of place.
      You might have to check your assumptions as well.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 11:58 am
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      Ahh, yes, police bias against young white males is well documented. It happens all over this country … Sniffle, sniffle

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    • May 3, 2014 at 12:08 pm
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      I have not been denied work because I am white. However, I have been harassed several times by the NYPD because, as a white, clean cut male at the north end of Harlem, I stood out. It made me nervous and I moved before they could find an excuse to shoot at me.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 9:06 pm
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      Bull shit. If by harassed you mean they stopped you, made sure you were okay and escorted you out of town, you missed the entire point of what privilege is.

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    • May 4, 2014 at 12:47 am
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      Great job, because you’ve been turned away from ONE job and harassed by the police like ALL PEOPLE have been at one point or another you completely erase many years of research done by people who’s actual jobs are to study things like racism and inequality. It doesn’t exist because bad things happen to you.

      This is the ignorant line of thinking I’m talking about. What the hell does being white in Tucson have to do with anything? I think you have Tuscon confused with Detroit my friend. You are not being discriminated against just because you claim someone denied giving you job one time and police dont like you. Let me straighten you out, because there is absolutely nothing odd about a white man in any part of Tuscon Arizona.

      Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 5:50 pm
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    My husband is the son of Mexican immigrants, who came to this country and built a life for themselves and their children much like this young man’s grandparents did. No white privledge for them. The same opportunity is afforded to each of us. For some, perhaps they may have to overcome some prejudice (who doesn’t, really?). But that’s the wonderful thing about the USA. Opportunity.

    Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 12:00 pm
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      Wonderful story … Proves that all other stories and research that demonstrate overwhelming bias against minorities, esp African-Americans, is wrong. You kids seem to be learning so much at Princeton…

      Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 5:55 pm
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    Some people just don’t see their own hypocrisy even as it stares back at them in the face. “Inadequate perspective”… really? An just who is the giver of adequacy? As a human being, one of God’s created, his adequacy is fulfilled in his… being.

    What kind of sick individual even coins a phrase like “oppression olympics”? He has a story, a path and a perspective that is just as valid as any. Jews have been just as systematically oppressed as ANY other race in HISTORY. Only an ignorant, self-righteous lover of only their own race would think that it began with Hitler.

    Stop with the assumption that there is some sort of racial or social debt that you are owed because you have been called names as a kid, or picked on, or excluded, or hurt, or overlooked, or passed over, or discriminated against. It happens to everybody! Nobody has universal access to their dreams and freedoms. It is earned and only those who use their own past, their “own” perspective, their Own potential, their OWN power to forge their “OWN” path will ever find the truest treasure there is… joy. If you focus so much on why you don’t have it, you will fulfill your own prophecy.

    Stop trying to defend your sick right to marginalize another human being by invalidating his worth because you think it was handed to him. It is that mentality that will always hold you back just like a broke lottery winner. For when your time comes to take advantage of opportunity, you will flush it, not knowing how to invest in others because you only see inward interest.

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    • May 2, 2014 at 10:33 pm
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      Much of what he names, were the experiences of former generations in his family, they were NOT his own.
      He’s missing the point.
      First, because he’s forgetting that the difference is in his hard work is that there is a return for it.
      He assumes he’s earned it, as well he should.
      But he’s also assuming that the same can also be true for the very group he’s not a part of and never will be.
      His immigrant family were a name and accent change from assimilating into the mill of FULL, unquestioned ACCESS to the very things that still eluded the same generations of people of color.
      The difference between access to the same neighborhoods, schools and business models.
      Sometimes a young black person cannot enter the same places, without being suspect.
      Too often. In fact.
      He’s making a tacit essay, as do many, that if people of color expect to succeed, they have to work for it.
      As if they haven’t, as if they hadn’t the will or ambition, and yet there is still no sympathy for never gaining the same footing, despite the same hard work.
      If he’s stung by anyone saying he’s accomplished what he has by unfair advantage.
      That is the same sting any highly qualified black person feels when their presence is considered suspect at the expense of someone white.
      I wouldn’t discount, nor dismiss his experience nor that of his family.
      So he shouldn’t do it to someone else.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 10:05 am
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      A person who is of one color can never understand how it feels for the other. A man can never be a woman. Get it?

      Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 5:55 pm
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    “See the difference?”—–No I don’t, for one simple reason: a person can be victimized by some horrible things done to them by other people, but that person, and only that person, can choose to identify as a victim or a survivor of those experiences. That person, and only that person, can choose to fight, claw, and scrape up the side of any mountain thrown up in front of him or her, regardless of who tries to stop him or her. I am 43 years old, a survivor of childhood rape and abuse, as well as domestic violence, and I am physically disabled because of another person’s stupidity in driving with a known seizure disorder and no insurance. My income is below poverty level and if my boyfriend and I ever break up, I will be on the street. I deal with chronic pain on a daily basis that would put the average person in bed, curled up in a ball sobbing. But damn it all to hell, I AM NOT A VICTIM! And until people of any color, age, sex, or whatever division you can come up with, stop trying to be victims of something, nothing will every change in their lives. Period. Being a victim means that you are looking backward on your past. Being a survivor means that you are looking forward to what you can create your life to be. I choose to look forward. What about you?

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    • May 3, 2014 at 2:29 pm
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      Your argument assumes that there is opportunity that makes it possible to look forward. Unfortunately, being ill doesn’t cause prejudice the way race and gender do. I hold a MS in mechanical engineering and graduated back 25 years ago when female mechanical engineers were unheard of. I was driven out of one job after another as the first and only female engineer in the company due to extreme harassment, sexual and otherwise. I had my work sabotaged relentlessly. I finally reinvented myself as a role acceptable for women – I became a technical writer. Spare me the claim that their is true opportunity for all. There isn’t. But there certainly is for any white male in the US.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 6:57 pm
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      It[‘s not about being a victim. I love how incesitive people are to bring up their own hardships to ignore the existence of something like racsim. The system needs to change. If we ignore a problem it will never get solved. So educate yourself and become part of the solution, because if not you’re also part of the problem. If you don’t learn from the past history is bound to repeat itself.

      Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 6:03 pm
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    Wow…you commentors are NUTs…I will never “apologize” for being a white male, I will never apologize for slavery, something my kin folk were never involved in. I will not apologize to the Indians when our Government made the descision to take their land…I would have sided with the slaves, I would have sided with the Indians had I been around.

    Privileges??? What “Privileges”??? The “privileges” my dad gave me by working hard his entire life feeding and clothing us? Going to school in the 80’s with no socks while the black kids did??? The “privilege” my grandmother gave us cooking the fish and racoons we caught for dinner, ’cause we couldn’t afford “real food”, and we helped feed our neighbors. Oh, the privilege JFK had of riding in a nice top-less car only to have his brains blown out???

    If you want to use the term “privilege”, I’ll use it here for a quick second…I “earned” my “privileges” by serving this great country…something you guys probably (yes, I’m assuming) know nothing about. We do the dirty work and see the ugly (and real, I might add) side of the world, something you guys are so far disconnected from, it ain’t even funny. What have you guys done to “earn” your priveleges???

    What was Allen West born with that your typical “under privileged” African American wasn’t??? See, color/sex has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with it…If my dad was a drunk and didn’t work, and slept around, having babies with every other woman…if I chose to follow in his foot steps, that is MY FAULT and MY FAULT alone…I remember a time when people took responsibility for their lives/well being/actions.

    Let’s set the record straight…I don’t have “privileges”…I have God given rights…this White, Christian, Heterosexual, gun toting Male, owes NOBODY NOTHING!!! Not even apologies or feeling sorry. Think this “thought process” is crazy??? Look at the African Lion…yeah, we’re on the same page. I will be prejudice…it’s called survival…I will not walk into down-town Little Rock in a Klan outfit (not that I would wear one anyways).

    Get in touch with your primordial instincts…you might live longer…

    Too any African Americans that “see” what I see, drop Jesse Jackson and his ilk…take the lead of Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, Allen West, Ben Carson, and Herman Cain…work! Don’t let the trend continue…just because it’s “been that way”, doesn’t mean it has to be…YOU decide…YOU make the decisions…and you live with the consequences…

    Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 10:06 am
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      I think you need to see a doctor. read the news. get the facts and shut the f up.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 10:08 am
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      You’re a little nuts yourself, guy. You wrap “apologize” in quotes as if any one on the other side of the debate is even asking you to apologize for those things. Yeah, that would be crazy. But no one is doing it. You’re either reducing the opposing argument into something ridiculous so it’s easier for you to take down or you’ve never actually comprehended it. It’s kind of a pattern with white people. But just because it’s “been that way” with you guys, doesn’t mean you can’t break the cycle and pop open a book or something.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 9:11 pm
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      Frankly you owe a debt of gratitude to those who created a society in which there is rule of law, and those who were any part of the value system whereby you didn’t have to go into a field and find your food, and those who were any part of the education system where you learned whatever skills help you from being at the bottom of the value chain. It goes on and on the depth and breadth of who you ‘owe’. Fortunately all you have to give is thanks. As to privilege, you have had the privilege of not being judged by your heritage. That’s all. You can’t be aware of it, since it hasn’t happened to you, unless you went out of your way to put yourself in a situation where you would have been visibly different.
      And while you have earned my respect for serving your country, that doesn’t grant you any greater privilege for having so. You still have to create value and be of service to others for them to be willing to pay you for whatever value you provide.
      We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. It’s up to us to provide something for those who follow that they can build on.
      Love your last paragraph!

      Reply
    • May 4, 2014 at 4:22 am
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      I’m going to throw something out there that some might say is wrong, racist, etc. but I don’t think it is, so read it a couple of times, think about it, then come to your own conclusions. I think that current day blacks (or if you prefer African Americans) are lucky there was slavery, and that their ancestors were slaves. Why? It’s really very simple, where did the slaves come from? We all know they came from Africa, but where & why? The people that sold them into slavery were other blacks, specifically when one tribe of Africans were at war with another, the winners sold the losers into slavery! Had there not been slavery, and the winning tribe couldn’t make money by selling the losers to the people running the slave ships they probably would have killed off most of them, possibly keeping some as their own slaves.

      So what I’m saying, while slavery is wrong, detestable, and a whole lot of other words for bad things, it is still slightly better than being dead! So all of the black folks that are complaining about all the bad things that happened to them due to white folks, remember 2 things, first it was black folks that loaded other blacks onto the slave ships, and second if there hadn’t been slavery, you probably wouldn’t have ever existed! That’s my take on the situation, if it offends anyone, I’m sorry, that’s not my intention, but read it again, and think about it some more, you might change your mind, or at least understand where I’m coming from with this idea.

      Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 6:03 pm
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    White guilt is a new sickness in this country. A white male has to apologize for being a well-adjusted, hard working, and productive person primarily because you were raised by a great family. The American dream means your children will have it better than you. However, the current generation is conditioned to believe that these winners only got there because they’re white, and they should feel guilty because some black folks’ ancestors from 150 years ago were slaves. Memo to the NAACP, you better get over your victim mentality because guess what? The Chinese and Indians can give a flying feck….and they’re going to eat your lunch if you don’t outwork and outthink them. Welcome to the global economy.

    Here’s an interesting story (to me at least)…..Affirmative Action is real, and people get accepted into universities because of their skin color who otherwise wouldn’t have. But my family turned the table on these people…..family member born in Africa to missionaries……that makes him/her more of an African-American than any black American……the med school application (ACC school) has a box called “African-American”…..not BLACK…..he/she checked it off, and of course was accepted to said school….with a bottom 10% MCAT score…..mind-you they did have a 3.5 GPA from a top Big 10 school, but there’s NO WAY they would have been admitted if they were “privileged” White.

    Score one for WHITEY.

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    • May 2, 2014 at 8:49 pm
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      I guess the Klan did nothing to help keep blacks in their place after 1865. You know those Jim Crow laws also helped to build character and after that unfortunately happened to be outlawed in 1965, 100 years after slavery.

      Racism is not as prevalent but it would be quite difficult for an individual who goes to a rundown school, worrying about hunger, and trying to take care of family, to make it out of that situation. It isn’t impossible but when the odds are stacked against you and then people assume you are terrible based on the statistics of others. You will eventually revert to what you know.

      If you are going to use history please don’t use the convenient bits but all of it. This is not a post saying people should be ignorant but a post to give history. 30 – 40 years max removed from full blown racism doesn’t give time to establish anything. The young black people coming from college now are the ones that will be determining how the future of the race will be shaped because they were given the opportunities to succeed. They had a hand pushing and guiding them along to success, to become functioning members of society.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm
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      It is disappointing that just reading these comments alone, the ignorance and hatred dug up towards “the other side” of this issue. While I feel this young man has much merit to what he has written and understand fully his stress, the commenters lamenting on people of color as “affirmative action cases” and “helpless leeches” is appalling and disgusting at best.

      Have you seen all these student’s test scores and submissions applications? So ALL people of color are in college based on race alone? NO people of color actually graduate from HS with high GPAs and quality abilities that are appealing to the colleges that they apply too? That is ignorant.

      What true “white privilege” is, is being so ignorant and apathetic to the struggles of other marginalized groups that any complaints or stresses from the other side are just cast off as ridiculous or seen as something for those people to simply “get over.” This is simply because by default you (white people) just don’t have too. You don’t have to wake up and worry about how your skin color will affect your interactions with coworkers and how every body movement and word spoken out of your mouth will be taken in some distorted manner because of your skin color. That your race is much more likely to be shot and killed senselessly with no questions asked because people of color are deemed guilty by default by majority society. That when you apply for jobs and their is Jay Walking or some other minor offense that eyes brows will be raised at the sight of the applicant who is also “of color” with that offense. Why Ivy League institutions like Harvard have to conduct “research studies” on the correlation between a mother being able to provide diapers for her baby and her level of self-confidence-Not shit Harvard privilege, no shit. Why only blonde blue eyed white women get national attention when they go missing on the news. Because who gives a damn about other phenotypes and ethnicities who go missing!

      The list goes on and on and on and on…Privilege affords the majority group the ability to not give a fuck. You walk into the world with a blank canvas. Because of “privilege fear” people of color invoke deep fears, jealousy, and hatred which keeps these groups marginalized and subject to terrible atrocities and inhumane attacks even until this day. Privilege just means you aren’t concerned with it because your pale skin allows you to look the other way. People of color shouldn’t be the only one’s forced to “assimilate.” This nation will only heal from racism when the topics are able to be discussed without attacking the other side and having some Humanity in our interactions, perhaps someday this will be possible.

      Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 6:11 pm
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    That Nigerian terror group that kidnapped 200 girls from school a few days ago? I am seeing headlines now that most of them have been sold into slavery or marriage, some for as little as $12. Being that Nigeria is in Africa and is not South Africa, I’m going to hazard an educated guess that the perpetrators are “people of color”. But by all means, let us continue to focus upon what the Privileged White Male Establishment has done to hold down the Black/African American race for the last couple of centuries, because we know just how hard oppressed people really have it in America.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 5:45 am
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      Hey man, I dont know if u know it or not, but South Africa is Africa as well, and Blacks in Africa dont have the same background as black Americans so u are basically grouping all people of color in one box, that would be like me saying that White Americans and Russians are the same people because of skin color. Plus South Africa has a black president an 80% of South Africa are black, white Africans is just a name they gave themselves cause they aren’t from the region naturally. Just a history lesson. What about the American terror group invading Iraq an destroying a country for nothing.?
      And by the way u know nothing of oppression, since u are a woman u do realize white men didn’t even like white women at one point. When the fact is white people make more mney at the same job than a black person at the same job in the same position that tells it all, only in the past years has job wages began to be fair.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 9:36 am
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      So if it turns out you are wrong, and the 200 girls were abducted from 21st century slavers, would that provide ample evidence that we should continue to focus on “white privilege”?

      Your educated guess was likely correct. But do you see how lazy an argument that was? The sarcastic undertone of your message seems to suggest you honestly think the two concepts are related. That is completely asinine, though, indeed you would have been in a better logical position if you had alluded to the black-on-black murder rates in Chicago. Since I take it that your purpose is to say that black people are holding themselves back? Though, I could be wrong.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 12:12 pm
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      Haha, you cite as evidence a crime of a few black people to prove that white males are not privileged. Let me cite as evidence this non-sensical reasoning that you don’t know what you are talking about …

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    • May 4, 2014 at 12:52 am
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      Yea because the US is on a freaking mission to get these little girls back home where they belong right? They won’t rest until they’re all safe? US doesn’t give a fuck about Nigerian children, but let 234 blonde haired blue eyed girls go missing they’ll all be home by bed time that very same night.

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    • May 4, 2014 at 12:56 am
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      The “privileged white male establishment” is the single largest dollar-for-dollar contributor to feminism. Without the monetary support OF the privileged white male establishment you would not be labeling working-class and middle-class males as ‘privileged’. You’ve been used as proxies – strung along by your own hatred and past experiences.

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    • May 4, 2014 at 8:27 am
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      totally agree with you Stephanie, we need to stop this victim stuff.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 6:12 pm
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    What it comes down to is that racism is an easy cop out for some people. You fail in life, “it’s not your fault, you were held down by the man”. The problem with this additude is that each year there is another shining example of a minority that rose to great heights, upon their merrits. How did they escape “the man”. Life is 20% what happens to you and 80% what you do with it. People like to see it the other way around, to make excuses for laziness.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 6:23 pm
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    I love this critique of our societal ideals. If people were to look beyond what society tells us to think and believe, we could actually get passed all these issues of “check where you came from” frameworks that have been propagated to keep the mind in a world of chaos. My point is, that as a society we need to make the decision to move on from the past and learn from it, not to continue to argue and fight over who had/has it the worst. To move beyond the outward appearance of someone and let their actions speak for them instead of their past or their family history.
    We have come so far from the days of Jim crowism and the like, yet some still cant learn from the past. One of the biggest problems that has risen up in the ashes of jim crowism is what is know as “reverse racism”, where it is ok for the minority groups to hold the “white man” accountable for history. This could not be farther from the truth, every man, woman, and child are free to make their own lives what they wish it to look like, It is not up to anyone else to make their life better. We have created a system of perpetual “apologetic” financial benefit for most of the minority classes in the country. As a student I look for scholarships everywhere, and what have I found? I have found uncountable numbers of scholarships for minorities and others groups that might have been wronged in the past, I am not advocating for removal of these scholarships only that they allow those within a majority class as many equally beneficial opportunities. This is only one of the examples, there are many such ways if you look around.
    Why are we still looking to blame others for what happens to us, why can we not take responsibility for our own choices and expect others to do the same, no matter the color of their skin or their race? If we can finally come to this realization as a society, not just individuals (even thought this is where it begins), only than will the issue of color/race not matter. We can then move forward with better ideals and live a more peaceful life with our brothers and sisters of the human race. We need to stop apologizing for the past and just learn from it and move forward. Acknowledged it is there and it happened but it does not have to define us as individuals or as groups or classes. Drop the labels and live the best way you can.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 6:55 am
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      the only ppl who make it ok to use reverse racism are the ppl who use it. and personally I”m tired of ppl like you and the many others posting here giving the whole stigma to all ppl of colour. while there are sound words wisdom in your response, there are also false generalizations. false generalizations=prejudices, prejudices when actualized into either words or actions = racism…… by the way, excuse these different organizations for trying to help minimize the financial, and educational gap between the majority and minority. HATER!

      Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 6:52 pm
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    I enjoyed reading this article. As a black man in America, I have nothing but respect for this young man. And to be clear: he does have a privilege. His family worked hard for that privilege, and rightfully, it will be passed down to him, and he will be obligated to pass it down to his descendants. This is how families keep their legacy alive. Instead of being envious, seek to create privilege within your own families. If a Cuban or a Hatian can risk drowning in the Caribbean Sea to come to Florida (where I live), and go from “the clothes on their backs” to “well-educated, well-off professionals” in 10 years (or often less), it makes you question those blacks in America who have lived here a their lives and yet still, cannot get it together. Put the past aside; look to the future. You’re only going to make it if you work hard. America is not a socialist nation, its a meritocratic, capitalist, protestant republic.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 7:14 am
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      Wow good for you. And thank you. Please share your perspective with other members of your race. Then maybe we can get past racism and live in harmony as one people.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 6:49 pm
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      Thank you for the mature and honest perspective reflected in your comment. Tal is truly blessed by the way his fore bearers chose to handle their struggles and ascend through hard work and sacrifice. A “privilege” he has obviously embraced and built upon with his own disciplined efforts and sacrifice. Any person can elect to bequeath their posterity the same leg up by valiantly meeting their life’s disappointments and challenges with courage and a desire to do rather than nurture defeat and blame. I was not fortunate enough to escape abusive alcoholic parents but I made the conscious decision to not repeat their story in my life. As a result, I went on to higher education, which I worked to pay for, and raised a fine family. My children (all five) are loving, productive members of society. I am blessed and, so are my children, by God leading me to make better decisions with life.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 6:51 pm
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      Thank you for the mature and honest perspective reflected in your comment. Tal is truly blessed by the way his fore bearers chose to handle their struggles and ascend through hard work and sacrifice. A “privilege” he has obviously embraced and built upon with his own disciplined efforts and sacrifice. Any person can elect to bequeath their posterity the same leg up by valiantly meeting their life’s disappointments and challenges with courage and a desire to do rather than nurture defeat and blame. I was not fortunate enough to escape abusive alcoholic parents but I made the conscious decision to not repeat their story in my life. As a result, I went on to higher education, which I worked to pay for, and raised a fine family. My children (all five) are loving, productive members of society. I am blessed, and so are my children, by God leading me to make better decisions with life.

      Reply
  • Pingback: Princeton University Student: ‘Check Your Privilege’ | The Heavens Declare His Glory

  • April 30, 2014 at 7:09 pm
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    There is extreme bias AGAINST white males today. Case in point, try getting a job when all hiring is done by the Office of Diversity.

    http://staffdiversity.utah.edu/recruitment.html

    When the overriding goal is to hire a ‘diverse’ candidate, when the job opening is peppered with racially charged dog whistles, when the positions are preferentially advertised on ‘diverse’ job boards, a white man has very little chance of being seriously considered.

    The evidence is in, Affirmative Action worked. In science, well over 90% of all positions were filled by white men decades ago. By the 1990’s it had reached parity, with ~62% of the population being white and ~62% of the new hires being white. Since then Affirmative Action has swung the pendulum BEYOND parity, to the point that now less than 50% of entry level jobs are being filled by white scientists.

    At some point, we need to grow up as a society and realize that the only way to finally end racial discrimination is to stop allowing/mandating discrimination like this. My ‘white privilege’ involved being raised on a worm farm and pulling a quarter million nightcrawlers from the cold wet ground one by one to help support my family. But to the race hustlers, I’m just another ‘white oppressor’ that needs to ‘check my privilege’.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 7:01 am
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      you sound like every hatin’ white person i’ve ever met. trying to use affirmative action as your basis for an argument on shows how ignorant you really are. affirmative action has been outdated for quite sometime now. the good thing is that as a law it keeps people in check (much like the different branches of government). and are you really complaining because business’s are more representative of what America looks like today? hmmm if so then you may have some internal searching to do!

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  • April 30, 2014 at 7:11 pm
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    White males built the modern world we live in today. White males created Western Civilization and our forms of government. White males invented the automobile, internal combustion engine, airplane, jet engine, computers, internet, satellites, cell phones, vaccines, refrigeration, electricity, most all the arts, etc……… and we’re supposed to apologize? The truth of the matter is the rest of the world is forever indebted to us. They hate us because they aren’t us and they know it.

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    • May 2, 2014 at 10:31 pm
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      You do not have to apologize for it.

      But chances are that you aren’t within the realm of these “white males”.

      I thank these PEOPLE: MLK, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and all other successful visionaries.

      I don’t thank white people. I don’t thank any color of people. I simply thank genuine human beings who did what they could to contribute to society.

      And the Chinese invented gunpowder, which was then used by “white males” to colonize the world. Please stop being a pompous “white male”.

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    • May 2, 2014 at 10:59 pm
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      You idiot… You’ve been reading too many modern books. What have you done? Nothing but run your mouth. God says those who exault themselves will be abased. Those guys took credit for lots of things idiot. That’s why you are continuously abased. Do your homework and you will find many patents and inventions by African Americans. Not giving you the mike. Such a newswatcher. You’re not a smart person. Wow.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 10:12 am
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      check your facts. white males built the modern world we live in today – USING BLACK AND COLORED SLAVES.

      White Males invented….
      I could make a list 10 times as long with all the problems in the world caused by white males.
      like you.

      Mathematics was not invented by white males. You white males had roman numerals which were replaced by the decimal system which is used by white males all over the world. Check the fact. it was not invented by white males. Hitler was a white male. Hitler was a white male. Oooh that reallymust hurt to know the truth. White male wake up 🙂

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    • May 3, 2014 at 11:51 am
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      Did u do any of those things? Very confused as I thought it was all about personal responsibility ….

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    • May 3, 2014 at 2:10 pm
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      Your ignorance is commendable.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 5:42 pm
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      If you think by virtue of being a random white man you get credit for inventing the internet and all these other things, then it only follows you also take responsibility for slavery, colonialism, wars, the Holocaust, etc., etc.

      Reply
  • Pingback: Princeton University Student: ‘Check Your Privilege’ | The Olive Branch Report

  • April 30, 2014 at 7:13 pm
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    Let’s stop engaging in verbal gymnastics and call it like it is..Non-white Americans are tolerated and not judged on the content of their character.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 12:55 pm
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      You must be imbued with the same distortions as those who utter “check your privilege” to presume to speak for anyone other than yourself. Rather than accurately describing my views and my attitudes toward others you can only open the door to reveal your own views.

      Many of us who are automatically viewed as coming from privileged origins actually are products of the grinding machine of life that produced the author of this opinion piece we comment upon. Indeed the vast majority of us have succeeded not because of inherited wealth or status but because our parents and their parents have seized and built upon the opportunities that America provides. That some have squandered those opportunities is not the fault of those who did not and they need to look inside for assignment of responsibility and not project it onto others. You need to start with yourself and claim ownership of your own views and opinions and not ascribe them to those around you.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 3:39 pm
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      Ed needs a tissue….I believe he’s crying

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  • April 30, 2014 at 7:25 pm
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    As I read this article and comments, I have found that I can agree with both sides of this argument, yet disagree at the same time. As I go through my college education, i see countless scholarships I can never receive just because I am a white male. If I were Black, Hispanic, female or even more than just 1/32 Native American money for college would be more readily available than just a Pell Grant and Loan. I know there are scholarships that are available for me, but they much higher competition and harder to get.

    To get a job may be easier because I am white and male, but I know that one of my first jobs all the management I saw were women, from my boss, to her boss, and even the next boss up. I was one a handful of guys that worked there, and this was a big health insurance company. Since then I have had many job interviews, and been rejected more times than I have received a job.

    To be honest when it comes to school, careers, and any other aspect of life, it comes down to spirit, and your determination to get there. Fredrick Douglas was a black educated man who was on speaking terms and helped advise government officials. This was during the downfall of American slavery, and he was an escaped slave. He did not let anyone tell him what he could or could not do, and found a way to achieve his goals. The problem that I see with “checking my privilege” is that I am not just outright handed everything, I have to earn my college degree, I have to apply to the jobs, Go through interviews, And all in all make choices that won’t hinder or side track me from where I want to go (i.e. stay away from drugs and heavy drinking, pass my classes, etc). If I saw someone actively being persecuted, like people say, I would stand up and say that that is wrong, and others should too. I would also advise that just because people think that that is happening to them, they should not stop and believe that it is impossible to achieve their dreams because the white man will never let them. This believe only fosters the prejudice, and will do more than any other person could to stop them. By going through and winning the game by getting an education, owning their own successful business, or getting to management positions. This would do more to break the barriers and prove there are none, because some of our biggest barriers were put their by yourself.

    Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 6:11 am
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      Imagine I am a very wealthy man, and I set up a scholarship fund for my children. Is that unjust? How about if it is for my nephews and nieces as well. Let’s suppose I extend it all students with my surname, or of my religion, or my ethnic group, excluding others. Would that be unjust because you cannot avail yourself of those funds?

      How about, as a public policy measure, a scholarship fund provided by the nation, awarded on a need-plus-merit basis? Need being judged solely by the financial resources of the student’s family and merit being judged by academic achievement. Is that unjust? And what about funds set up to benefit a group historically and statistically disadvantaged, in the hope of leveling the playing field, and creating something more closely approaching equality across ethic or gender lines?

      All of these are blunt instruments that accomplish what they do in the aggregate, but may not be just on a case-by-case basis. The scholarship fund just for my family may be unfair in treating all my children or relations the same. Academic accomplishment and financial resources? That may not take into account character or other factors. Black Americans face barriers and difficulties, differences of expectations, assumptions about them, even conscious racism, every day that white Americans don’t: still, every individual is different. It may be, in the grand scheme of things, unjust that an affluent black kid gets something that a poor kid from a rural country in West Virginia can’t get.

      But alas, blunt instrument are all that we have. Even if we knew how to compare and balance one disadvantage or privilege against others, the incredible complexity required a for a system that made a detailed investigation of every candidate for a scholarship in every aspect of his life and circumstances would eat up the money intended for scholarships. So we use crude, blunt measures. Many white people assume that the advantages that have been allowed for blacks amount to a reverse discrimination, and are unjust. Few black people see it that way. Few black people, and few white people who have actually studied the matter scientifically, do not see that all those “preferences” are not enough to level the playing field: though they are certainly tip it in the right direction.

      Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 7:30 pm
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    Aww, poor Mayo boy, someone hurt his feelings! I guess one or two generations of “oppression” gives him the right to walk around campus whining that people don’t like him cause his European ancestors decided to kill each other off, like through most European history (if you can even call the European past history). But us proud Africans have to be subjected to centuries of slavery, followed by centuries of oppression, just so we can scrape by and thank “mastah” for barely letting us into college to better ourselves? Cry me a river, white boy and check your privileges.

    Reply
    • May 2, 2014 at 8:58 pm
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      I’m so sorry you are so ignorant of history. No wonder you had to be “let” into college because of your skin color. You are living proof of what is wrong with the system. You’ve allowed yourself to wallow in ignorance because you can. If you were white, you would never be allowed near a college campus because of your laziness. Any student of history knows that the Jews have been ‘oppressed’ for centuries. They also know that the blacks in Africa sold other blacks into slavery. It wasn’t white folks, dear. Your racism and hatred of your fellow man is appalling. Now, if any of the words I’ve used are too big for you to understand, thanks to your willful ignorance, I hope you have enough intelligence to at least look them up in a dictionary. You can find one online. Now, if you are too lazy to do so, maybe you can find a white European to do it for you.

      Reply
    • May 2, 2014 at 11:25 pm
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      Before you start slandering the name and opinions of Mr. Fortgang, let me remind you of a very important detail of this young man’s history: his family is of Jewish descent. His grandfather worked as a Rabbi in a work camp. That culture was passed down through generations in addition to the work ethic that got Mr. Fortgang into Princeton.

      If you want to start playing the “history of oppression” card, take a minute and remember that the Jewish culture and its people have been persecuted for millennia. Not just centuries. Hundreds of centuries. It can be argued that they have only in recent decades escaped that persecution, except that would also imply that Israel is a stable, conflict-free country in harmony with its neighbors.

      If you are saying that this “white boy” needs to be apologetic for the injustices other white people have done, you are only victimizing yourself. If you are saying that I, as a “privileged” white female from Georgia, need to apologize and feel guilt for the privileges that my parents and grandparents have been able to pass down to me, you will be waiting a long time.

      Too many times have I been confronted by “proud Africans” with demands of restitution. Why? Because I’m a white girl from Georgia? Let me say that I have no reason to answer these demands. I have never owned slaves nor persecuted a minority. I will be judged by the content of my character and by the dreams for which I strive. Because I have been privileged to have been raised by my parents, to have received a college education, and to work for a fair wage, I now have (to quote a comment earlier by “dgw1982”) an obligation to make life better for my descendents.

      We are all privileged. In every life, there are blessings. Only those who continually look back on the wrongs committed against them, be those wrongs real or imagined, will fail to recognize those blessings. For them I do not feel guilt nor apology. Instead, I feel pity that they would choose to victimize and hobble themselves with excuses and cries of imagined injustice and not embrace the ideals of their predecessors: to work hard and earn the privileges that will be passed down to future generations.

      Reply
      • May 19, 2014 at 4:52 pm
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        Mr. Fong’s understanding of work ethic is different from those who weren’t allowed to work during his grandfather’s era. It’s clear from the article that his grandfather migrated to the U.S. prior to the Civil Rights movement. During a time when many African-American men and all women weren’t educated fairly or, if employed, weren’t paid fair wages and therefore didn’t have the same knowledge to pass down to future generations.
        Although his grandfather may have been of Jewish decent, he is still a white man. If his grandfather settled in New York City during his migration, he would have assimilated with other established white, European immigrants such as the Italians, the Irish and the Dutch or his Jewish counterparts who began migrating to the Northeast during the time of Martin Luther (no relation to Dr. King) in the mid-16th century in order to escape religious persecution. These very groups of people would have found life to be oppressive in the South because of their accents, not being the “right” type of white and their religious affiliation as non-Protestants (i.e., Jewish or Catholic). Not to mention, Mr. Fong never mentions any contributions made to his privilege by his grandmother or mother.

        However, if you are a white girl from Georgia who can trace her family back four or more generation in the south, than you most certainly benefited from the persecution of minorities and slavery. Not only did the males in your family benefit from African-American enslavement in terms of free-labor but also from full citizenship, property ownership, education and being the “right” type of white in the south. That is until Abraham Lincoln changed things as you said 150-years ago. However, that didn’t stop segregationists and their continued enforcement of systematic racism which also benefited white southern men through Jim Crow laws, keeping African –Americans from being education fairly, gaining employment with fair wages and even keeping them from living a decent life free of persecution from the KKK, police and dirty politics so they could build something to pass down to future generations. That is until de-segregation, which as a southern girl you know began with Brown vs. Board in 1954. Then Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycotts in 1955, all the way to John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 and Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968. That’s only 46-years ago counting from 1968. That means these are injustices your grandparents and, depending on your age, parents very much benefited from in the form of government protection, educational achievements, property ownership and lifestyle expectations that eventually became privileges passed down to you.

        On the flip-side, it means someone’s grandparents and parents had to endure the injustices for being black. An African- American born in 1954 would only be 60 years old today and an African-American born in 1968 would only be 46-years old today. I doubt those born in 1954 had experiences that were imagined, leaving them with limited knowledge to pass down except for their own experiences and their parent’s experiences as black southern men and women. Understanding the government system (legally and politically), understanding the educational system from pre-K to college without affirmative action, the ability to have property that can be passed down and having lifestyle expectations are things millennials and post-mellennials are learning and putting to use so they can continue to be passed down to future generations.

        Your character isn’t just developed by your first hand experiences but by the experiences passed down by your grandparents and parents. It’s easy to teach work ethic when you are able to work. It’s easy to understand the value of higher-learning and academia when you have parents who went to college. It’s also easier to teach future generations the insight and value of living in American when the government isn’t trying to kill you.
        It’s not always about apologizing for an injustice someone commits but for the unearned benefit that comes from it. This country’s southern history feeds into the lifestyle you as a southern white girl understand as “proper” living. You should consider being sensitive to that. The next time you see an elderly African-American person (man or woman) who is 60-years or older remember they suffered so your grandparents could prosper. And if you can stomach it, remind yourself that they had parents and grandparents who weren’t privileged enough to be born during the de-segregation era.

        As far as Shaniqua goes, I’m not sure what her personal experiences are or her parent’s, grandparent’s experiences are but she should express her point with a little more respect.

        Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 7:01 am
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      You are the epitome of ignorance at it’s finest.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 7:23 am
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      Slavery was abolished 150 years ago. Get over yourself and check your sanity

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    • May 3, 2014 at 8:57 am
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      You sound like a fantastic candidate for a current or future single mother. Remember more kids means more free shit for the .gov.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 9:03 am
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      I’m sick of all the ‘privilege’ crap as well. NO ONE gave me anything because I’m a hyphenated ‘Caucasian’. I had to work for everything I have. It’s not much, but it’s mine. You can kiss my bare white ass.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 9:37 am
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      I think your emphatic disregard for Jewish history is pathetic and offensive.

      First off, a small lesson for you. Since slavery, blacks identified with the Jews – there was an eminent sense of common struggle. MLK himself said that the “segregationists and racists make no fine distinction between the Negro and the Jew.” So there is a common sense of history, struggle, and a sympathy emerged from being in like situations for centuries. Secondly, your disregard for Jewish history borders on a lack of recognition of the Holocaust, and is coterminal with many prominent deniers of Jewish plight and history in Europe. Jews (for centuries longer than blacks in Europe) were stigmatized, murdered, and thrown to the sides of society – whether it was in England, in Spain, in France, or further in the Middle East.

      The nuance to his argument is that not all white people are the same. There’s a sense that race dictates total place in a society (and whether or not thats true is another question – race fundamentally increases inequality, countless studies show that, thats not the question). However, what he fundamentally conveys is the sense that using race as a token (to attribute further characteristics, history, socioeconomic status) is flawed for so many reasons. Fundamentally, we need to look at race as not an explanatory principle for totality or total place in society.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 10:16 am
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      A person who is white will never understand how it feels for a person who is not. They just can’t.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 10:37 am
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      Youdidntreadthearticleitwasaheartfeltexplorationofwherehecamefromnotacomplainttoobadyouonlyseeraceasyouwillmissoutonthegoodthingsinlife

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 10:39 am
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      Shaniqua: if you’re a student at Princeton, you’re obviously there courtesy of affirmative action, not for your educational attainments or intelligence. You evidently are incapable of writing a cohesive, grammatical paragraph. You seem to know nothing of the persecution Jews have endured through history (by no means exclusively European). You seem to be under the (all too common) delusion that slavery was primarily an American crime and was one exclusively of whites owning Africans. You have a privilege you personally clearly don’t deserve and from what you write you seemingly intend to go through life expecting to be handed privilege after privilege, simply on the basis of your remote ancestry and the color of your skin. I find this contemptible.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 11:00 am
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      Jews only oppressed for two generations? Really? Most Africans still oppressed by mostly Africans

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    • May 3, 2014 at 11:33 am
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      I have engaged in the “…but I’m Jewish” conversation more times than I can count. Obviously the author and everyone who commented needs to do some reading and take a sociology or AA studies course…or all of them. However, it does no good to create hierarchies of oppression. Slavery was horrible and the ideas of Black inferiority that characterized slavery are still embedded deep within our society. Racism is rampant and the US and doesnt appear to be going anywhere in the next few centuries. But slavery was no better or worse than the Holocaust you cant measure hatred, genocide and oppression

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 11:52 am
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      No Europeans were ever enslaved by anyone ever in the history of the world. We know this because our progressive liberal professors told us so.

      Oooobaaahhhmaaaaa….Ooooobaaahhhmaaaaa……

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 12:03 pm
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      By the way, Shaniqua, is “Mayo boy” a racial slur or not? Having done some research, I’m inclined to believe it is. Certainly “white boy” is a racial slur, at least as you intend it to be interpreted. You’re not a proud African. You’re a bitter American who hasn’t learned to embrace your real identity. You’re a victim of false consciousness, as I believe you lefties like to put it.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 12:27 pm
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      Centuries of slavery? Most of that was at the hands of other blacks.

      The bottom line is that western civilization has done more to provide equal opportunity and raise the living standards of the poor than any other group. Africa, that would be colonial Africa, was relatively prosperous. By today’s standards they were wildly prosperous. Remove colonialism, turn the continent over to black leadership and starvation and aids rule the region.

      Cry me a river, lazy bitch.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 12:37 pm
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      Shaniqua,

      There is nothing you can do to change the “privilege” that others may have. Instead of that, why don’t you figure out how to make your own privilege. There are laws & opportunities out there to help African Americans do just that, but YOU have to be the one that takes advantage of those. No one, not even the privileged, can do that for you.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 12:52 pm
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      One or two generations? I don’t judge you by your skin color, but by your gross ignorance of history. Jewish people have been oppressed not for centuries, but for millennia! From slavery under the Babylonians to the inquisition, to the pogroms where hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed for no justifiable reason, and finally the holocaust where three quarters of the European Jewish population was displaced or systematically murdered in half a decade. There has never been a time in history where Jews have not been persecuted. And no, we don’t just “let you barely scrape by” into college, we afford you privileges that other races wouldn’t have gotten. Why is it that an African American child gets accepted to better college than I do whilst having worse academic performance? Because he’s black, and that sounds like discrimination to me.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm
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      Now if there was a prototypical response that one would ascribe to those who care more about entitlement than content of character I’m hard pressed to find it. Well done.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 1:54 pm
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      Shaquuna….you be a racist too.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 1:59 pm
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      What r u proud about african girl? Your continent is a toilet of hatred and harshness. Name onelasting monument or form of government every built, or one societal achievement the rest of the world has adopted. Small minded little accomplished people. Without america you would still be in a jungle fighting your neighbor.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 2:18 pm
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      Shaniqua,

      You my dear exemplify precisely what young Fortgang wrote about: you are so enamoured of your ‘victim’ status, that you can get past yourself: you DEMAND that someone hand you all you want, when you want it, and how you want, and you never have to foot the bill for all of it.

      Your river of tears demanded is a cop out, yet another crutch that you provide yourself so that you needn’t take responsibility for your thoughts, your words, or your actions. You make excuses for how you think, what you say, and for the severely bigoted positions which you reflect so clearly in the racist terms you directed toward young Fortgang:

      “..poor Mayo boy…”, “…white boy..”

      Let’s change it around shall we, but for you this time?:

      :.poor Choco girl…”, “…black girl..”

      Do YOU like the sound of those phrases? No?

      You shouldn’t like the sound of them, because the prime focus is skin color, rather that the character of the person at whom they are being directed. Get the drift?

      I would add that your implied anti-European (white) bigotry when it comes to just who killed whom, and for how long all of that went on, illustrates a SEVERE ignorance of history, HUMAN history, and the foundations of why things happen. The proof of it is in the vacuous manner in which you give African history a pass on the ‘standard’ you seem to use against white Europeans.

      News flash oh proud ‘victim’: Africans sold Africans into slavery in West Africa, because when the slave trade began, and for the next approximately 300 years, the white Europeans could not and did not venture too far inland, because of the ‘bad air’ (Bing search the Spanish word ‘mal aria’).

      Yoruba peoples conquered Ibo/Igbo peoples and many others along the coastal and near-inland areas, while the Fulani Muslims raided other black African peoples and sold them to the Yoruba for the slave trade.

      The tens of thousands of black slaves who were forced onto those ships, were sold into that situation by OTHER black Africans.

      Oh yes, the names of the fine fellows for the first, roughly, two hundred years of the slave trade?

      Hispanic names, because for those first nearly two hundred years, the Spanish and Portuguese ran nearly all of the slave trade, THEN came slaver merchants with Dutch, French, and English names, but only AFTER the Spaniards and Portuguese nations diminished in power.

      Here’s another News Flash Shaniqua: the Slave Trade is STILL ongoing: it is engaged in by BLACK Muslim Africans, as the latest act to go public in Nigeria proves all to well; Muslims acting according to what the Muslim prophet Muhammad commanded, and his successors commanded: that enslaving non-Muslims is a profitable and ‘allah’ supported positive act, NOT a sin.

      Arabs by black African slaves, they’ve been doing that at least since 600 AD in Kenya and southwards in East Africa, and for longer than that in North Africa.

      Slavery was not a ‘white’ invention: it was a human invention, practiced in nearly every culture, in every land, for nearly all of human history.

      I know none of these FACTS will sway you from your deeply held bigoted points of view; that would take a supreme effort to confront yourself, your severely ignorant misconceptions, and the very clear hatred which you so carefully nourish in your heart, towards white people.

      Check your victim privilege Shaniquah.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 2:39 pm
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      Newsflash for the “white privilege” crowd: There isn’t one ethnic group on this earth who hasn’t been kicked around or done its own kicking. Some people may have a terminal case of white guilt, but I have no reason to feel guilty. I will never apologize for my ancestry, heritage, or skin color. Get over it.
      And incidentally, it’s human nature to be prejudiced and wary of others, regardless of color. It’s part of thousands of years of survival and evolution.
      Where in the hell is all this privilege I’m supposed to have because I’m white? My environment was far from prosperous. I come from a working class family in a racially diverse neighborhood. My mother raised 7 kids, mostly by herself. We all worked. My two older step sisters worked two part time jobs, and my mother worked to make ends meet. It was a hell of a struggle. I joined the Army at the age of 18 and served a total of 30 years (20 Active, 10 reserve). My skin color didn’t exempt me from two combat tours in Iraq. My Associates Degree was earned at a community college because that’s all my GI Bill and pocket could afford. My pension is still not enough to cover all the bills, but I still have Social Security to look forward to. Whoopie. No one gave me a free meal ticket because I’m a hyphenated ‘Caucasian’.
      Anyone who has a problem with that can kiss my bare white ass.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 2:39 pm
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      Mayo? White boy?? Racist.

      Reply
      • May 28, 2014 at 9:48 pm
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        No, no sfcmac… It’s only racist if you’re white.

        Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 3:13 pm
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      There are asinine comments and then there are truly insipid comments. Yours, Shanana, epitomizes the intellectually-bankrupt mentality of far too many on the Left.

      We Proud Americans of All Colors don’t buy into this Privilege Nonsense.

      Rather than equality and harmony, blacks today seek political primacy and special treatment.

      No more. It you guys can’t get your acts together and see that the Democrats lie to you about everything, and that they seek to keep you down in order to use you for your voting bloc, then no amount of handouts or Affirmative Action will ever pull you out of the collective swamp you are mired in.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 4:11 pm
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      Slavery started by Africans and continued by Africans to this day. You may have gotten into college but you have shown yourself to be ignorant. Face it, even Africans don’t like American blacks. The Africans to an individual that I know hold you American blacks in contempt. All these opportunities and all you can do is whine and play the race card.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 4:43 pm
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      Shaniqua, you say you “have to be subjected to centuries of slavery, followed by centuries of oppression.” You have not lived that long but you will hopefully live long enough to get off your ass so that you may teach your kids to get off of theirs and so on.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 4:58 pm
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      Excuse me ma’am but you are the biggest racist have ever seen.You have the nerve to base your opinion of a boy based on the color of his skin. How would you like it if someone said to you that you had no right to even speak on this webpage because they are generalizing you to have grown up in a slum neighborhood and you clearly didn’t get the proper education there. Well I’m sure you would make a big deal about it, call them a racist and try to get them kick off of the internet for have the gual to say such a thing. Im not saying that I feel this way at all. I think that racist is absolutely unfair and it should stop. But I would like to point out to you that racism is a two way street. This is not something that should be acceptable. I want you to step back and think about how racist you are being and how if the tables were turned how you would feel. Next time think about how you treat other people and then maybe they will treat you better. Then you will actually be helping in bringing the world together in peace instead of what you are doing right now(drivinga wedge between people). We are all people so live like it.
      Have a nice day.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 5:09 pm
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      Shaniqua, you remind me of so many who walk around campus with an invisible “V” on their foreheads. As an educator, I see it all the time as liberal education fills your mind with such dribble. You, as an American, are fortunate for you have an opportunity for success that many others around the world will never have. That is why so many attempt to come to our country via crossing borders, overstaying visas, stowing away on container ships, etc. Stop worrying about being a victim, focus on your success, and you will do well. Spend your time worrying about others and you will go nowhere fast. Lose the social media, the instant gratification, and focus on your future. You are not a victim, so get on with your life.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 5:16 pm
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      Shaniqua,

      You my dear exemplify precisely what young Fortgang wrote about: you are so enamoured of your ‘victim’ status, that you can get past yourself: you DEMAND that someone hand you all you want, when you want it, and how you want, and you never have to foot the bill for all of it.

      Your river of tears demanded is a cop out, yet another crutch that you provide yourself so that you needn’t take responsibility for your thoughts, your words, or your actions. You make excuses for how you think, what you say, and for the severely bigoted positions which you reflect so clearly in the racist terms you directed toward young Fortgang:

      “..poor Mayo boy…”, “…white boy..”

      Let’s change it around shall we, but for you this time?:

      :.poor Choco girl…”, “…black girl..”

      Do YOU like the sound of those phrases? No?

      You shouldn’t like the sound of them, because the prime focus is skin color, rather that the character of the person at whom they are being directed. Get the drift?

      I would add that your implied anti-European (white) bigotry when it comes to just who killed whom, and for how long all of that went on, illustrates a SEVERE ignorance of history, HUMAN history, and the foundations of why things happen. The proof of it is in the vacuous manner in which you give African history a pass on the ‘standard’ you seem to use against white Europeans.

      News flash oh proud ‘victim’: Africans sold Africans into slavery in West Africa, because when the slave trade began, and for the next approximately 300 years, the white Europeans could not and did not venture too far inland, because of the ‘bad air’ (Bing search the Spanish word ‘mal aria’).

      Yoruba peoples conquered Ibo/Igbo peoples and many others along the coastal and near-inland areas, while the Fulani Muslims raided other black African peoples and sold them to the Yoruba for the slave trade.

      The tens of thousands of black slaves who were forced onto those ships, were sold into that situation by OTHER black Africans.

      Oh yes, the names of the fine fellows for the first, roughly, two hundred years of the slave trade?

      Hispanic names, because for those first nearly two hundred years, the Spanish and Portuguese ran nearly all of the slave trade, THEN came slaver merchants with Dutch, French, and English names, but only AFTER the Spaniards and Portuguese nations diminished in power.

      Here’s another News Flash Shaniqua: the Slave Trade is STILL ongoing: it is engaged in by BLACK Muslim Africans, as the latest act to go public in Nigeria proves all to well; Muslims acting according to what the Muslim prophet Muhammad commanded, and his successors commanded: that enslaving non-Muslims is a profitable and ‘allah’ supported positive act, NOT a sin.

      Arabs by black African slaves, they’ve been doing that at least since 600 AD in Kenya and southwards in East Africa, and for longer than that in North Africa.

      Slavery was not a ‘white’ invention: it was a human invention, practiced in nearly every culture, in every land, for nearly all of human history.

      I know none of these FACTS will sway you from your deeply held bigoted points of view; that would take a supreme effort to confront yourself, your severely ignorant misconceptions, and the very clear hatred which you so carefully nourish in your heart, towards white people.

      Check your victim privilege Shaniquah.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 5:24 pm
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      Shaniqua, your bitterness and resentment comes through loud and clear. check your hate.

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 6:20 pm
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      You discount others and you are the victim who suffers the most right? You probably don’t know, and wouldn’t care, that black Africans are enslaved today. But not by white people, so eh, right? Not to your advantage, so meh. You save your outrage to indulge in your own racism and hate. It’s glaringly obvious for all to see. You expect total respect, not based on your character obviously because judging by this post your character sucks, so thats understandable. You expect respect of the highest order, and you give none. I bet you have much respect for Islam, yet Muslim Arabs are enslaving (chattel slavery!) “your people” right now. And you wonder why black Africans have no respect for black. Americans. Grab a clue, missable bitch,

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 7:29 pm
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      Another affirmative action loser heard from!

      Reply
    • May 3, 2014 at 11:07 pm
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      … You think the Jews were only oppressed for one or two generations? Jews have been the most discriminated-against people group for a thousand years! From the Crusades in 1096 to the Inquisition in the 15th century, all of known Jewish history consists of being killed, enslaved, or chased out of some place or another. They didn’t even have a homeland, as Israel did not exist as a nation for two thousand years because the Romans kicked them out of it. SHAKESPEARE was prejudiced against Jews. (The Two Gentlemen of Verona) Charles Dickens was prejudiced against Jews. (Oliver Twist — Fagin was a Jew.) African oppression in the US is miniscule in comparison — a mere 150 years of actual slavery and another fifty or sixty of Jim Crow. Check YOUR privilege.

      Reply
    • May 4, 2014 at 12:02 am
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      Once again, a racist black woman is speaking insults and stupidity and no one wants to call her what she is, an ignorant biggot! Mayo boy is just as bad as Alabama Porch monkey or something like that. That is the same as calling blacks niggers, is it not?

      Reply
    • May 4, 2014 at 12:46 am
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      For clarification, “oppression,” appearing here in offensive scare quotes, means the Holocaust.

      Reply
    • May 4, 2014 at 12:59 am
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      I wasn’t aware that a full scholarship was ‘barely being let in’. The SATs are not a form of discrimination – if you do well you can attend any college you like – it is only those who are unable to attain high scores that talk about ‘discrimination’. I wonder why that is…

      Reply
    • May 4, 2014 at 1:09 am
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      As mean as your comment is you’re literally the only one who doesnt have their head up there ass. :”Check your privilege” isn’t about complaining about the past. It’s about changing how fucked up things are now. White people like to act like just because their lives aren’t perfect that there’s no such thing. They don’t want to believe that things aren’t equal. If that were the case why are all the history books and great people in history we learn about mostly white? They’d like us to believe that white people are superior that’s why. So when we say check your privilege we don’t mean go look at your history and see if anything bad has happened.

      We mean check how many black students there are in your college as opposed to white, check the odds of students with the same grades not getting into the same school because of their skin color. Seriously can’t believe the attitude of every single one of these people.

      Reply
    • May 4, 2014 at 2:22 am
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      You should really check your history before making statements like you did. If you’re referring to the writer of the original article, then you might be interested in knowing that the Jewish people were not oppressed for just a couple of generations, but rather the Jews have been slaves (SLAVES, not just oppressed) for a few thousand years in Egypt until Moses lead them out of Egypt to find Israel the land the Lord promised them. So if anything Jews have more of a right to complain about having been slaves than black people have, but I’d bet you’ll have a hard time finding one that will complain as most of them are too busy trying to make the earth a better place both for themselves and their families. You might also want to know that Jews were discriminated against in this country too. Back in the 1930’s or so my grandfather & uncle went on a road trip thru New England, at one town where they stopped for the night the motel clerk said he had a room for my Grandfather, but none for my Uncle. Why? Because my Grandfather had changed his name to a more generic American sounding name, but my Uncle hadn’t!

      I can understand still having some ill will toward the relatives of folks that might have enslaved your relatives, but when it comes to people whose relatives came here at the turn of the last century (between 1890’s to 1920’s or so) which includes Jews, Italians, Irish, and I’m sure others I’m not aware of, these people truly had nothing to do with slavery. In fact these people might have been living under conditions even worse than slavery, consider a family working hard and saving up their money just to send one or more of their children on a boat going across the ocean, never to be seen again in the hopes that the children will have a better life! I would say that their lives had to be pretty desperate to do something like that, but yet that was a fairly common thing back then, in fact my paternal Grandmother came over with her 2 sisters but without her parents because they couldn’t afford to send everyone. If that’s a privilege, I would really rather be under-privileged!

      Reply
    • May 4, 2014 at 2:53 am
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      “The Holocaust was insignificant and was not oppression.”

      Thank you for providing us with such an in-depth mental analysis about yourself Tulande.

      Reply
    • May 4, 2014 at 3:07 am
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      Shaniqua, your assertion that Jews have only faced two generations of oppression is ridiculous. Read a history book. And to say that “his European ancestors decided to kill each other off” makes me assume you don’t understand how slavery worked. It was actually Africans–black Africans, I might add–that were the ones gathering other black Africans to be shipped off to slavery.

      Reply
    • May 4, 2014 at 4:47 am
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      How DARE you! At the very time when your ancestors were being promised 40 acres and a mule, my ancestors (Eastern European Jews) weren’t even *allowed* to own land. All your bullshit about “centuries of slavery” doesn’t overshadow the even longer history of oppression and murder directed at the Jews. Ever heard of the Inquisition, of pogroms or crusades?

      This isn’t some sort of competition. That’s not the point. The point, in this instance, is that Shaqniqua should check her own very real (and different) privileges before demonstrating her culture’s tradition of critical, nuanced thinking — exemplified by her vile little playground taunts.

      That’s not to say African culture has left a record devoid of contributions. By the time Europeans began colonizing the New World, chattel slavery had largely disappeared from their culture — but not from West Africa. As for the claim that African slavery was some sort of charming expression of indigenous warrior culture? Yeah, right — colorful celebrations of brutality for its own sake! At least the Europeans had the good sense to put such a brutal institution to productive use.

      To this day, America’s black population is wealthier than that of any country in Africa. Maybe that Middle Passage proved not to be such a bad move, after all.

      When you go back for a look, just remember to check your privilege!

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    • May 4, 2014 at 8:24 am
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      I work with low income individuals every day. Many, not all, are people of color. You know who succeeds regardless of their race? The person stops blaming others for their present day circumstances and decides to change their family tree by doing something about their quest for a “better life.”
      “Mayo boy,” indeed. If a white person uttered similar words to you they’d be called racist. Please, check YOUR privilege.

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    • May 4, 2014 at 8:59 am
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      Are you nuts ? This man just offered a articulate rebuttal of the whole race blame game and tou are just repeating the old cliche without bothering to reply intelligently to his point ? no wonder your people are so defected..

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    • May 4, 2014 at 12:23 pm
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      I don’t think he is super racist like you’re assuming. The language you use in this comment sounds really accusatory. It’s okay for white people to complain if they think someone’s being a little racist against them.

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    • May 3, 2014 at 3:55 pm
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      This article presents an impressive litany of struggle, sacrifice, survival, and achievement. Unfortunately none of it is Mr. Fortgang’s. That is the relevant point. Mr Fortgang is using the same sorts of arguments that the upper classes have frequently used to justify their status and credibility, the sacrifices and accomplishments of their ancestors. If those lessons had truly been passed down and appreciated, then Mr. Fortgang might exercise more humility and less self righteousness. He might recognize that others less fortunate than himself did not chose their less successful ancestors, did not choose to grow up in poverty and deprivation, did not choose to receive inferior educations and opportunities. “Check your privilege” is a straw man employed to elicit a self congratulatory monologue built on the accomplishments of others.

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  • May 2, 2014 at 8:24 pm
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    There is no denying that you can’t tell what has happened in someones life, or what their ancestors have been through based on the color of their skin. Also there is no denying that you and your family worked hard in your life. However, it isn’t really about what your ancestors went through or what you went through, but more what advantages have been given to you has a white person growing up in a decent neighborhood. It comes down to the fact that you, for example, probably don’t have to cary over 500$ on you for fear of being stopped by police based on the color of your skin and arrested for trivial reasons. As a white Jewish man myself, I have be easily forgiven for transgressions of my past, while if I were black I am almost certain the police or judge would have made assumptions and not given me the benefit of the doubt.
    It comes down to the fact, that more is expected from you if you are white, therefore you are treated differently and pushed to be better; Your mistakes don’t usually have severe consequences because you as a white person isn’t expected to continue making this mistakes, however someone who is of a minority would probably be put in jail for something as simple as a few grams of weed. You can walk down the street without fearing arrest or people crossing the street because of the color of your skin. Predominantly white neighborhoods are given more state and federal money for schools and infrastructure, while poor predominantly minority neighborhoods are ignored and cast aside as a lost cause.

    In the end however, you obviously did well for yourself, and for that I congratulate you, yet still as hard as you have worked, some of your life is different and most likely easier and better simply because of the color of your skin. Take a step back and think about it. I am sure you will see, even if it is minor in your situation.

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  • May 2, 2014 at 8:26 pm
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    Looks like Shaniqua Tulande is a racist! Tell you what there “chocolate drop” when you stop using the racist name calling (“Mayo Boy” and “white boy”)…I’ll quite calling you a “chocolate drop” and “brown girl!!!”

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  • May 2, 2014 at 9:20 pm
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    I am just wondering about an assumption that this writer is setting out his argument with: can Jewish be considered “white”?

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  • May 2, 2014 at 9:37 pm
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    I will start off by saying that white privilege has its limitations as a definition. I empathize with the fact that it doesn’t take into account class privilege, but that is where it stops. White privilege via Wiki, “The term denotes both obvious and less obvious unspoken advantages that white persons may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice. These include cultural affirmations of one’s own worth; presumed greater social status; and freedom to move, buy, work, play, and speak freely. The concept of white privilege also implies the right to assume the universality of one’s own experiences, marking others as different or exceptional while perceiving oneself as normal.” In summary, the majority sets the cultural, social, political standards and benefits from them in sometime inconspicuous ways.

    If these benefits are camouflaged into the systems of our society, pointing to the past isn’t an excuse to ignore the reality. What the author does a great job of is to highlight that we all have a diverse background and that we all face struggles in life. But he chooses to defend his position from a very far right, “Think like an elephant” point of view. It is understandable that as a young man his life experiences have made him defensive. But it is unfortunate that he does not fully appreciate the gravity of socio-economic factors that dictate ones willingness to choose either assimilation, acculturation or any other form of social adaptation. Not to mention one’s self perceived freedoms. For many, choice can be severely limited due to the inequities that have burdened generations. This can come in the form of family debt, primary school choices, parental make-up or education, juvenile justice system, and a host of other factors. Not to say that we are not all born naked, we just might not have the same foundation for opportunity.

    White privilege is not a blanket term for all whites. However, the fact that this individually clearly has had many people tell him to “check it” infers that some cultural competence should be suggested in the form of education or involvement. When I read the many posts berating affirmative action, Obama, 200 girls kidnapped in Nigeria???, and any other chest pounding “I am white and proud for being the majority cuz my ancestors who I love but don’t agree with” comment is just a reminder to all that no matter where we are as a society doesn’t mean that minorities are disenfranchised. Just by the fact that it is unrecognizable to that group means we have not reached the fair playing field we are striving for. The better thing would be to accept that there could be more barriers for minorities, but say you view everyone on an equal playing field regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, class etc.. (Ignorance is bliss afterall) Or just show your true colors. Lastly, money and the majority are the foundations of power in the U.S., meaning you cannot talk about equality without considering them.

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  • May 2, 2014 at 9:45 pm
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    I truly hope Princeton University take note that they have a student who plan to major in history and political science who is extremely lacking of knowledge and reasoning. They need to correct this problem. The time he took to write his bias views should of been spent taken classes in African American history to combat his ignorance. He should of known that people of color did not had the privilege to earn because of slavery; that people of color for decades did not had the privilege to learn to read and write and it was a crime to do so. He would of known that before 1952 people of color did not had the privilege to higher education because of segregation and did not had the privilege to vote untill 1965. He may have realized that perhaps it is indeed a privilege that got him into Princeton. It’s amazing that others did not do their research before publishing his essay, and to add insult to injury I’m sure he got an A+ for it.

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  • May 2, 2014 at 9:58 pm
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    Tal, thank you for telling your story. I agree with you when you describe how terrible some of your ancestors’ experiences were. You shouldn’t apologize for your privileges. In fact, nobody should be made to apologize for identities possessed. The fact that you’re considering majoring in History or Political Science should indicate that you realize the past affects what’s going on today. I don’t know you, but I am sure you possess identities that have historically been oppressed which have affected your ancestors quality of life and restricted their choices, doing the same to your own. You seem to be acutely aware of those identities and the effect they’ve had on your family background and current life.

    What is asked by a statement like ‘Check your privilege’ is NOT for your apology; in fact, I can’t think of anything more repulsive than an individual from a dominant group (in this case, white and male) pleading for forgiveness from individuals who face oppression every day. The phrase is instead meant to spark the same awareness of your privilege as you seem to have of your oppressed identities. By awareness, I mean thinking critically about why it is that you don’t typically feel the need to have someone walk you home at night. You’re typically not shamed for what you’re wearing by someone you don’t know. I mean thinking about who is given the space to comment and actually heard above all other groups (hint: they’re white and male). I mean thinking about why it is that a practice like enslaving and discriminating against someone based solely upon skin color isn’t something that simply goes away by Lincoln (one of the greatest in a coincidentally long line of white male Presidents) saying, “Alright, you’re free. Good luck out there.”

    As another white male, I won’t apologize for my identities either. The point is that nobody should be pushed to apologize for identities possessed. But if you were anywhere near as aware of these privileged identities as you seem to be of the oppressed ones of your ancestors, it’d go a long way.

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  • May 2, 2014 at 10:23 pm
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    What the author and commentators are failing to realize is that privilege is not just money. It’s being able to walk down the street in a hoodie and not worry you’ll be stop and frisked by NYC police. It’s knowing that your chances of incarceration and death penalty are low. It’s knowing that you have the power to vote (take a look at the mass disenfranchisement of black people in Florida in 2000). It’s knowing you won’t be asked whether you’re illegal.

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  • May 2, 2014 at 10:54 pm
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    Wow. The media instigates and points out fallicies of certain folk. The whiners come out of the wood work. Get off of your, “I’m entitled derriers, travel around this great Nation, visit people; and ask yourself what you can do for this nation; beside whining. How this guy got into Princeton, I don’t know. You’ve fought nothing. Enjoy the inheritance and stop being angry at others. Your whining is Hitler like dude. You haven’t served this nation yet. For the other passive aggressive guys, stop whining and ask yourselves what you can do for this Nation! Everyone wants to belong to what they think or feel is the elite. You actually think it’s about color. It’s about the spirit of hate dude. However, you are currently suffering from a false sense of delusion of grandeur. Look in the mirror and ask yourself what you have to offer society; in respects to your talents, etc. Wow….not dropping the mike but gently setting in down on the podium….God bless the U.S.

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  • May 2, 2014 at 11:24 pm
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    Slavery of all color and types of humans has disgustingly been part of human history for tens of thousand years; black Americans think they are ONLY ONES EVER SUFFERED – had it bad hundred years picking cotton yet Hebrews enslaved 2000 years building stupid pyramids. If liberal liars and blacks truly want to fight slavery then they would stop buying Chinese Marxist products made from slave labor!

    Booooohooo liberal race baiters and America haters; FACT not a black today born into slavery so just shut up about it!

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  • May 3, 2014 at 12:58 am
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    Functionally, a command to “check your privilege” during an argument is a warning shot: if, after examining the intersectionality of your own background (which the author more or less did), you still disagree with your more-leftwing or darker-complected interlocutor, you are going to be branded an obstinate, hateful racist.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 1:02 am
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    Congratulations! You’ve leveraged your privilege and capitalized on the hard work antiracists (mostly POC’s) have been doing for decades to centralized the discussion institutionalized racism.

    Unfortunately your essay is just another example of how our educational institutions are for the large part doing students an expensive disservice. The people who are telling you to “Check your privilege” have done their homework, and do in fact know what they’re talking about. The people who tell you to “Check your privilege” have not only learned about your ancestors experience (after all you ARE describing the kind of story most all of us have been taught in high school history), they have also been cultivating an advanced understanding of the structures (systems of oppression) that have shaped our collective consciousness (which are directly linked with the mindset that allows genocide) On top of it, sounds like most of them have more personal experiential knowledge of what it’s like to BE OPPRESSED than you do.

    Until you decided to do the homework yourself you will be excluded from certain conversations that require a more advanced knowledge. It’s like going into a surgery and being pissed that they won’t let you dissect the heart just cause you have a heart too? Get the picture?

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  • May 3, 2014 at 1:08 am
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    What this young man is describing here is the notion that there is indeed class mobility in the United States. Perhaps there was such a possibility during the 20th century for the poor and the wretched to claw their way to the top, one generation at a time. But evidence increasingly shows that as wealth is concentrated in this country into narrow, and yes, privileged classes, such mobility has become all but impossible for most Americans. So while this essay’s topic serves as a very inspiring story about what is possible in America, the story is more about America’s past rather than its present. Unsurprisingly, conservatives have latched onto this story, because they want Americans to believe there is such a thing as class mobility so that ordinary Americans will ultimately vote against their own interests: vote for lowered taxes for people with wealth the middle class will never obtain. People have been tricked into thinking that higher taxes for the wealthy will kill the American Dream. But in fact breaking up concentrations of wealth allows for the dream itself: allows for the many to strive, as opposed to the same few families to win.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 2:26 am
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    “My exploration did yield some results. I recognize that it was my parents’ privilege and now my own that there is such a thing as an American dream which is attainable even for a penniless Jewish immigrant.”

    -Well, there you go. Why should we rely on statistics when we can just use anecdotal evidence instead?

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  • May 3, 2014 at 2:31 am
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    Bill: the only reason you can make those claims on the behalf of white men is that the rest of us were closed out. For instance, women…world wide….have not been able to attend school until recently. In some countries TODAY girls still are not permitted or encouraged to attend school. Case in point: look at what the girls are experiencing, today, in Taliban controlled countries: shot in the head, acid thrown in face, kidnapped from school and raped, and burned alive in their schools which were deliberately set on fire. But let’s go back in history to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle who lived and taught about 500 years before Christ. Add 500 years to the 2014 years since the birth of Christ….2500 years that boys and young males have been the recipients of education; girls, however, only for the last 150 years. Interesting contrast, don’t you think. But girls and women have caught up and, in only 150 years, have whizzed by the boys. The stats on grades by gender prove that. Meet me back here in 2350 years and we’ll see who has boasting rights.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 2:46 am
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    you know you’re privileged when you have to go back three generations to find evidence to the contrary.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 3:06 am
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    just fyi, if the author were a woman, many of the “responses” to her piece would have been people threatening to sodomize her.

    thank goodness for his privilege

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  • May 3, 2014 at 3:07 am
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    The author of this article misses the point. When I saw the phrase “check your privilege” — tonight was the first time, even though I was a Princeton grad student for most of the past six years — race didn’t come to mind; socioeconomic advantage did. I can say as a white male that the author is ridiculously clueless about his privilege.

    The author had the privilege of growing up with a grandfather who worked hard and a dad who went to City College and then went to a top grad school — not to mention who could also afford to send him to Princeton. Going to a top graduate school easily put his father into the top quintile of income. This is a bit different from the kid whose dad is working at Walmart. The author refuses to acknowledge that the property that your parents pass along is privilege, instead weirdly suggesting that people should admire it (note how he conflates the sacrifice of his parents and grandparents with his own privilege):

    ‘But when we do it by passing along property and a set of values, it’s called “privilege.”… Such sacrifice of any form shouldn’t be scorned, but admired.’

    He talks about an American Dream “attainable even for a penniless Jewish immigrant”. Where is this immigrant in the author’s article who achieved the American Dream? Was this immigrant his grandfather, who never went to college or made it big? Was it really his grandfather’s dream that in three generations — three generations! — one of his grandkids could go to Princeton? Show me how often a penniless individual in our country goes from rags to riches in his *lifetime* in America and I’ll be happy. But that hasn’t happened a whole lot lately, and when it does, these people recognize that the government was helpful for them along the way: http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2014/02/19/exclusive-inside-story-how-jan-koum-built-whatsapp-into-facebooks-new-19-billion-baby/

    Remember when John Boehner cried about sweeping his dad’s bar as a kid, claiming that his story was rags-to-riches? The ‘privilege’ here — somehow missed by a lot of people — is that his dad owned a bar. Seriously — John Boehner’s rags-to-riches story started with a dad who could afford to own a bar. Many kids don’t have that kind of privilege.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 3:29 am
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    White privilege isn’t about apologizing for anything, it’s about self awareness. In that regard, I don’t think you understand what white privilege is. It’s not your fault that a majority of leaders in america are white, but the truth is, “white” people constantly have their culture reaffirmed for them. We are more likely to have teachers that look like us, deal with people in leadership roles who look like us who we can relate to, and when we turn on the TV we see someone who looks like our dad telling us that our culture is the best in the world. Because of that we have a larger capacity for success because there is an assumption that we better understand cultural norms, and for the most part, we do, because “white” people are a majority of the ruling class. No one is asking you to apologize, they’re asking you to take your head out of your ass.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 3:46 am
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    Anyone who doesn’t understand what he’s saying here is too stupid to walk and chew gum at the same time.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 4:49 am
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    Here is an example of media deception..at HARVARD…JEWS are %1.8 of the population,yet %25 of the students..
    WHITES %68 of the population….only %20 of the students
    data from the Hillel Princeton review.
    White people are UNDER represented more than any other group! Man people are stupid. Media control means you get to push the “white privilege” ,but in reality it is JEWISH PRIVILEGE ….For you people who don’t know the difference between white people and Jews,you need to. They do NOT consider themselves white,and in fact despise white people. They like to shift the blame for crimes they commit on whites,like the slave trade..Jews were the slavers. Jews are so over represented in IVY it isn’t even funny…they boast about it,like they brag about their media control,control of Wall Street,and the big banks,and of course Hollywood. The most prominent NY Times Columnist, David Brooks, wrote a column called “The Chosen, Getting In.” The article talks about a book by a Jewish Professor James Karabel who wrote a book called The Chosen, which discusses the Jewish takeover of the Ivy League.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 5:43 am
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    Interesting to me that he proves the point that he is trying to refute. His family went through hell, true enough, so that he wouldn’t have to. And succeeded. He didn’t have to. That’s what privilege is all about. Only a tiny minority of people, those of long-tailed hereditary wealth, cannot point back to parents, or recent ancestors, who had to struggle.

    He is right, it was his privilege that enable those penniless Jewish immigrants without English to come to America. Millions of people with no better qualifications are denied that privilege today, and millions more who have come in illegally but have nevertheless proven themselves, would now be denied the privilege of staying. He should remember that there were millions in America who would have kept his grandparents out if they could have, and a regime in Europe who would have killed them if they could. Does he think it was his family’s unique superiority of character and cleverness alone that enabled them to survive the Holocaust? That there was no element of chance involved?

    He is right, it has been his privilege to be born to hard-working and successful parents, who were able to raise him in a comfortable home, who were there to raise him with good values. Why should this translate to lack of sympathy for those who don’t have the same advantages?

    Of course he should be proud of his family. And no, he should NOT apologize for these privileges. His family suffered and sacrificed so that he would not have to. He calls that a sort of altruism. If they did what they did because they believed that no one should ever have to suffer as they did, then that is surely altruism. If they did what they did so that their own offspring would not have to suffer, but not giving a damn about anyone else, then the glow of altruism fades (though even then it doesn’t disappear).

    He says that no one should judge him merely because of the color of his skin, or the affluence he grew up in. He is right. Nor ought we to assume that anyone has not suffered pain because we see no outward evidence of it. Nor that he and his family haven’t worked hard or struggled because it doesn’t show, or because they haven’t succeeded.

    How about judging him on the content of his character? For the degree of empathy and sympathy he shows for others, perhaps those not privileged to have been born into a hard-working, strong, and successful family? For the values and opinions he holds?

    He says that people diminish the value of what he personally has accomplished by ascribing it to the “invisible patron saint of white maleness”. Really? And does he think he would be in exactly the same place he is now if he had been born poor, black and female, in the Bronx rather than Westchester? Does he think that if he were magically placed into a dark-skinned non-European-looking body, given an accent, and name that is Arabic or Hispanic or more difficult to pronounce, or some disability of mind or body, that his prospects for the future would be exactly what they are now?

    All too often this sort of narrative comes down to this: “I (or my people) had to go through hell to get where I am (or we are) today, and nobody else should get there unless they go through hell, too.”

    Every single student at Princeton ought to consider himself (or herself) damn lucky to be there, no matter how hard they or their family worked to accomplish it. There are a billion families on the planet working just as hard and not managing anything like it, and sometimes they are not even surviving. It is a privilege to be there, no matter how much they may think they have “earned” it, or “deserved” it. No one got there without the help of anyone, whether family, teacher, scholarship program, whatever. Neither luck, nor brains, nor work alone is enough to succeed in this world, you’ve got to have all three. (There are a few who get by on luck alone, but I wouldn’t call that success. Is someone successful just because he inherited a pot of money? Perhaps we should call those the people who don’t need to succeed.)

    Of course you have to climb the ladder of success on your own: but almost always, somebody else is providing the ladder. These days, too many seem intent on pulling the ladder up after themselves, saying to those at the bottom, “Get your own damn ladder. This one is mine.”

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  • May 3, 2014 at 6:35 am
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    I don’t think the author realizes that checking one’s privilege is more about self-awareness and empathy than an analysis of the obvious and “woe is me”-ness.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 6:52 am
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    The essay was eloquent in its way, but not intellectually honest. The writer has failed to “check HIS privilege”, which was supposedly the purpose of this self-imposed assignment. The closest he comes to it is when he says “While I haven’t done everything for myself up to this point in my life…” I would be interested to hear him expand on that. Did he grow up in a nice neighborhood? Go to good schools? Are his parents paying his Princeton tuition? Tell us about all the other nice things that helped get you to where you are today ***which you did nothing to deserve*** except being born, instead of obfuscating the issue by invoking the Holocaust (which of course was beyond horrific, but did not happen in your lifetime). But since you really did go there, look at it this way: Nazis had un-“checked” Aryan privilege, right? Would you accept a young Nazi writing an essay in 1939 about how he lost relatives in WWI or the hard times his family suffered during the inflationary years of the early 1920’s and saying “I have checked my privilege. And I apologize for nothing.” I didn’t think so.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 7:12 am
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    Tal,

    Being proud of your family is a good thing. Being proud of studying hard is also fine. But maybe you should watch this talk. It may help you get wary of some subtle tricks that our brains play on ourselves… Don’t miss the chance of taking a course in social psychology at Princeton.

    “Paul Piff: Does money make you mean?”
    http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_piff_does_money_make_you_mean.html

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  • May 3, 2014 at 7:26 am
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    Tal,

    Being proud of your family is a good thing. Being proud of studying hard is also fine. But check one of the talks of Paul Piff for example. It will help you get wary of subtle tricks that our brains play on ourselves. And don’t miss the chance of taking a course in social psychology at Princeton.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 7:41 am
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    You did a fine job of explaining how your grandparents were most certainly not privileged.

    You did an OK job of explaining that your parents, well at least your father, worked hard.

    You haven’t said much of anything about looking at your own position. In fact, it sounds like you grew up white, male, with rich parents, and with an attitude about it.

    “It was their privilege to come to a country that grants equal protection under the law to its citizens, that cares not about religion or race, but the content of your character.”

    America has never granted equal protection to all her citizens. Maybe one day. Certainly not 40 years ago. Still not today.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 7:58 am
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    Ivy league? Stupid league. Prejudice league. Indoctrination league.

    Much to comment on, but my most important is to simply show how blacks from other countries come not as “poor me victims”, but person’s excited about opportunity. They THRIVE, not wallow. The Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson ilk drastically harm the Blacks, not help.

    Great article! Many good comments.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 8:14 am
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    Sorry you think the ratios have changed because of affirmative action. Quite frankly, it’s immigration that is changing the complexion of the workforce, as the white-dominated corporate Americans compete for the spoils of the global expansion. However, the effect of affirmative action has been a two-edged sword for African Americans and while many of us are living the American Dream, we left our communities to live with white people. That took the educated role-models out of the African American communities as the drugs moved in. But I digress. Truthfully, I wanted to post the employment statistics so that you could become aware that African Americans have made some progress, but comparatively are still not able to figure out how to navigate and become more self sufficient. If you a curious what African Americans face in this country, pick up a copy of the “New Jim Crow” and take a cruise around http://www.eji.org.

    Employment Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t02.htm

    I am so happy to see this discourse, it gives me hope we will get over this mental illness of comparing human beings based on race. The young ones are certainly demonstrating the ability to mingle regardless of color. I won’t be alive when they take over the world, but it is refreshing to see them grow across color lines.

    Peace

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  • May 3, 2014 at 8:26 am
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    Wow! What an amazing discussion. When I first read the phrase “check your privilege”, in a piece about this article in the NYT, I unconsciously understood it to mean “…be aware of and grateful for what you’ve got/accomplished/overcome…” or something of that ilk.

    But then again, I’m in my ‘70’s – not my ‘20’s – and my world view tends to be through the lens of the additional 5 decades and experiences of the life I’ve lived. So, while, as a freshman in Ann Arbor in 1959, I might well have penned a similar piece, today it’s less about “me” and more about what contribution I can make, how I can pay it forward.

    Yes, there remains some awful inequalities afoot in this country about which we have a choice: work to change them or abdicate personal responsibility for the future of the greater whole and just go about living for your “self”. Regardless of the alternative you opt for today, I urge you to revisit this issue – and these choices – from time to time and see whether your world view has changed.

    Good luck.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 8:43 am
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    You’ve totally missed it. It’s not about apologizing (or not), it’s the fact-whether you see it or not- that we as white people have an advantage in this country, unfortunately.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 8:47 am
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    I’m sure his grandfather was a smart and hard working man but in Nazi Germany that didn’t helped him one bit. Instead, they sent this smart and hard working man to Siberia were being smart and hard working will not help him one bit. Martin Luther King said “A Bootless Man Cannot Lift Himself By His Bootstraps” So white privilege didn’t help his grandfather in Nazi Germany. The fact is his grandfather wasn’t white enough to get white privilege in Nazi Germany. But in 1940 American, to his grandfather surprise, he was white enough for white privilege. Such as New Deal Era of the 1930s and 1940s, the American government provided low-interest loans to returning veterans and other white Americans after World War II, and more.

    His grandfather got his boot to pull himself up by his bootstraps in America. So this smart and hard working man worked his butt off utilizing system that caters to white people. No way this smart and hard working man would make it in Nazi Germany. His brain would eventually turned to mush and he’ll follow the local Rabbi’s work in that DP camp that tells him that the spiritual leader shouldn’t do hard work, but should save his energy to pass Jewish tradition along to those who might survive. You could be from the moon but as long as you’re white and hard working you will get your boot to pull yourself up. The 1940’s, 1950’s and before, you’ll have to be a real dumb and lazy white skin person not to make.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 8:57 am
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    I think you are a shining example of why it is important to think before you post/speak.

    He is jewish descendent. Look at the history of pogroms and persecution against jews. The history goes back to the time of christ during the height of the roman empire. 0__o

    Check yourself first…

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  • May 3, 2014 at 9:04 am
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    Good for him. I’m sick of all the ‘privilege’ crap as well. NO ONE gave me anything because I’m a hyphenated ‘Caucasian’. I had to work for everything I have. It’s not much, but it’s mine. They can kiss my bare white ass.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 9:11 am
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    He should take a remedial English class. Last sentence, 3rd paragraph, it should be “allowed my family and me,” not “allowed my family and I.” Otherwise, well written and bully for him.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 9:11 am
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    …. didn’t read all 121 of the comments so if this sentiment has been expressed already, apologies! Some are born into or given privilege simply by luck or by who they are and some are not. Those that are not born or given privilege just have to work harder or study more or make more sacrifices or whatever it is then those that have privilege. THAT SUCKS for them. Even after all that, they may not get there,(to be privileged). At the end of the day we all make choices to do those things that make us successful or we don’t do those things. It is absolutely without a doubt unfair to those without that privilege. It is easier for “the privileged”. If you don’t understand that then you are not paying attention. It is not fair, it is not supposed to be fair. The privileged know its not fair, including Fortgang ’17. He is young and is just rationalizing the unfairness. Why would “the privileged” be willing to give that up, they have worked incredibly hard, sacrificed many hardships. Why is it wrong for them to take advantage of that hard earned privilege. In the history of the world, since the time of the caveman, it has never been fair, it is not fair today and guess what? . . . it will never be fair,…. we all need to get used to this and move on… and get to work. Stop making excuses.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 9:15 am
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    While it may be true that Mr. Fortang doesn’t have a complete understanding of what people mean when they say, “check your privilege”, it is equally true that most people saying it don’t understand it either. It is mainly used when logic and rhetoric fail and is a form of ad hominem argument, it attempts to invalidate the argument because of who is making it rather than on the merits.

    It’s nothing more or less than sloppy thinking and implies that if only you were sensitive enough, you would agree with those telling you to check your privilege.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 9:24 am
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    Newsflash for the “white privilege” crowd: There isn’t one ethnic group on this earth who hasn’t been kicked around or done its own kicking. Some people may have a terminal case of white guilt, but I have no reason to feel guilty. I will never apologize for my ancestry, heritage, or skin color. Get over it.

    And incidentally, it’s human nature to be prejudiced and wary of others, regardless of color. It’s part of thousands of years of survival and evolution.

    Where in the hell is all this privilege I’m supposed to have because I’m white? My environment was far from prosperous. I come from a working class family in a racially diverse neighborhood. My mother raised 7 kids, mostly by herself. We all worked. My two older step sisters worked two part time jobs, and my mother worked to make ends meet. It was a hell of a struggle. I joined the Army at the age of 18 and served a total of 30 years (20 Active, 10 reserve). My skin color didn’t exempt me from two combat tours in Iraq. My Associates Degree was earned at a community college because that’s all my GI Bill and pocket could afford. My pension is still not enough to cover all the bills, but I still have Social Security to look forward to. Whoopie. No one gave me a free meal ticket because I’m a hyphenated ‘Caucasian’.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 9:29 am
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    I imagine the reason this occurrence and topic are getting attention is its perfect corollary to the world we live in – reactionary versus empathetic. Without empathy it’s all just a vicious race to the bottom.
    Check your empathy.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 9:43 am
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    “Privilege is the fact that your grandparents were even allowed to start a business when they came into the country.”

    Uh, even under segregation, blacks started plenty of businesses. In fact, they had a built in market.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 9:44 am
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    Strong essay. Puts the lie to illiberal ‘progressive’ hubris and exposes its cant. Children, in general, need to stop their whining and get working, but they have so few examples in broken homes and with polluted public discourse the norm, I have little reason to hope that they will.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 9:52 am
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    Well written Tal.

    I wouldn’t address this nonsense further though. Doing so only lends validity to it. Instead, I would examine it’s origins. This BS hasn’t entered the popular vernacular without a helping hand of sorts. One which is left of Stalin. There’s an end game here and it’s not one of equality or any such thing.

    Good luck with your studies.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 9:59 am
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    Outstanding article. I would be remiss if I said I didn’t have a mental image of the author leaning on a propped leg and wearing a Browncoat.

    This man has nothing to apologize for, owes you nothing, and may drink from my canteen any day.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 10:38 am
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    “Priviledge”/”Victimhood” seems to be a political industry these days, led by false prophets in academia and government. It’s managed group-think with some practical political implications in leading the tribes.

    As a white male over 50 (and out of work for way longer than I ever expected) I’m wondering where my priviledge is…? I certainly don’t find it on job applications with questions to determine my sex, ethnicity, veteran status and other discriminatory markers.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 10:47 am
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    Minorities, if there is such a thing, relish in the shadow of their forefathers. The white liberals, in order to secure political votes, have shackled the Blacks to paper chains. The devastating storm of Katrina should have opened some eyes but, it did not. I marveled at the multitude of Black people who were completely at the mercy of the white establishment to “save” them. New Orleans, a town of full of minorities were clueless to help themselves. Rather, they sat and waited on the white man to recue them. It continues today. Education cannot be forced on anybody and that is a shame. Until the minorities realize that is education that will break their bonds then they will dwell in the ghettos of this once great nation which is nothing more than a modern day cotton plantation.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 10:52 am
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    Unfortunately, we are witnessing the embryonic form of a slowly developing American version of fascism, which will likely lead to re-education camps for those who think or express anything that is politically incorrect or offends someone. There is now a hierarchy of victim hood in this country, where the uber-victim gets the spoils. Black people believe that they are at the top of the cultural Marxist food chain of victim hood, but they are not. The radical Muslim is the uber victim of neo-colonial oppression. This is why a white Muslim can force a university to rescind the honorary degree from a black woman, and the college will accede to his demands, while a white Christian would be laughed off the phone for such effrontery. In the comments section here, a black racist calls you “matzoh boy” and “white boy”, denigrates all Eurpeans, and pooh-poohs the hardships your ancestors suffered because his ancestors had it worse. We all have are cross to bear, and it is specious to compare whose cross is the worst. I bet if you sneezed in his direction, you would be charged with a racist micro-aggression. Recently, I read of a white privilege conference in Wisconsin, where whites were decried as irredeemably racist, and white students wrote on their skin how they are racist and white-privileged. There is something very chilling about this, where it seems that anyone who is white Christian or Jewish is being marked for genocide in this country. Our AG has already claimed that hate crime laws do not apply to whites. Nazis were decrying Jewish privilege and denigrating their history well before Jews were thrown into concentration camps.
    I will be very careful where I send my kids to college, and they will never go to any Ivy League cess pool of liberal fascism where their race, culture, country and religion will be demonized and hated. I work four jobs to keep them relatively well-off in this awful economy. Like hell I will have them taught that only their skin color is responsible for their upper middle class status.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 10:55 am
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    You don’t get credit for your ancestors troubles. White male privilege? It’s a thing

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  • May 3, 2014 at 10:59 am
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    You just don’t get it. No one is disputing the admirable achievements of your ancestors. No one is denigrating them. Nevertheless, simply by being a white, male, heterosexual, from an upper middle class family, you are granted privileges you are not even aware of. No one begrudges you these privileges. No one wants to take them away. But, when you speak of other groups who have not shared these privileges in a disparaging way, when you imply that their lack of success is due to some failure of “effort” on their part, you are exposing yourself to the “Check your privilege” admonition. Your life path has been greased before you; you have not had to personally struggle with basic survival issues. Your ancestors obviously had to. But learn who you are. Learn what struggles many of your peers must CURRENTLY contend with, and be a bit humbler and more compassionate.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 11:15 am
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    I think you need to check the definition of privilege.

    It doesn’t mean that you haven’t worked hard in your life. It simply means you benefit from a racist and sexist system.

    This could be immediate, for example, in the way that you are less likely to be fucked with by the police because of the color of your skin (and if you don’t see that people of color are more likely to be harassed by police, then I think you may actually be delusional and not just ignorant).

    It could be slightly more historical in nature (although, ultimately all privilege is historical). For example, your white ancestors, while certainly facing some difficulties in their lives, were probably able to move to a white neighborhood with a decent education system. This was not (and in many cases is still not) true for a lot of people of color. Their children (and you) were consequently born with the opportunity to work hard and get a good education and go to Princeton. This isn’t saying that you didn’t work hard, it’s just saying that not everyone has had the same opportunity as you to translate hard work into success.

    Privilege can also be much more psychological. As a man you do not have to fear for your safety in the same way that a woman does. You also know that people will not diminish your intellectual and academic pursuits based on how physically attractive you are. As a white person you know that the legal system of the country you live in will treat you fairly when you come into contact with it. You also know that your actions and behaviors will generally be attributed to you as an individual and not to your racial, ethnic, cultural or national identity. This isn’t to imply that you didn’t work hard but you most recognize how knowing these things as a white man has given you peace of mind that other people might not have. I’m not a psychologist so I don’t claim to know the long-term ramifications of that on self-esteem and self-image but would argue that they exist.

    I imagine I’m not the first person to try to explain this to you so I doubt this will sway but I felt like your misinterpretation of the word ‘privilege’ is fundamental.

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    • May 16, 2014 at 4:35 pm
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      You should check the definition of “arrogant”. This is one of the most arrogant responses I’ve read. You must be the authority on the word “privilege” though.

      A truly groundless response built on zero merit or validity. Nice choice of diction by using the word “fucking” to illustrate your point. It really conveys a strong sense of intelligence on your part.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 11:27 am
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    Mr. Fortgang,

    In our glorious American society, it is the minorities (blacks, hispanics,etc) that suffer the most from racial discrimination in terms of wealth inequality, education opportunities, housing, employment, and in the justice system. The fact that you glossed over these details is disturbing. No one said that you personally committed the crime of slavery or posted “No Coloured” signs everywhere. However, as a white man you do have this privilege where you are not limited by these discriminatory practices. That is your privilege. Enjoy it though!

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  • May 3, 2014 at 11:31 am
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    “…whining that people don’t like him cause his European ancestors decided to kill each other off…”

    As opposed to your your African ancestors, who decide to sell each other off.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 11:49 am
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    This is an excellent essay, Mr. Fortgang. I’m sure your forebears would be proud to know their descendant is able to think so clearly. I too am wearied by the constant appeals to past grievances. People seem to enjoy flashing their history of abuse (most of which happened to other people) like the buttons on a TGIFriday employee’s vest. It’s obscene, and it needs to stop. I’m a human being. You’re a human being. We will treat each other with respect, and proceed from there. Period.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 12:16 pm
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    Could I be so bold as to suggest that you ‘go fuck yourself’, if acknowledging your privilege is too difficult for your trembling ego to handle? Failing that, I might direct you to ‘die in a fire’ – something, surely, will see your self-satisfied bullshit come to an end.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 12:20 pm
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    It appears to me that Tal Fortgang is angling for an internship with The Heritage Foundation, a spot at Harvard Law, and then a clerkship with Scalia, Roberts, or Thomas. Well done, young man.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 12:20 pm
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    Holy cow! Found you from the front page of Yahoo. Very well written. Success is not a straight line, but usually a very crooked and windy road that most don’t see. Sounds like you come from a great family.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 12:24 pm
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    Dear Mr. Fortgang,

    A long time ago, the more privileged had a principle. It was called “noblesse oblige”. It goes back to medieval times when the landed gentry would often donate funds to build churches, institutions, or other such things to enhance their community. It was deemed their obligation to do so among their peers. Minding your privilege is therefore not a new custom, though it certainly appears to be new to you. If you look around you, you no doubt can see buildings on your campus in part funded by generous alumni. the same principles of noblesse oblige applied to the successful Americans of days past, though sadly, not so much today. It is why Rockefeller built the eponymous research institute and why Carnegie built Carnegie hall.

    I am pretty confident your success to date has largely been funded by your parents. Or are you saying you are funding your education yourself? You have no doubt have been placed into your situation by a caring family that worked hard to make sure you are where you are today. You are, despite your rather vigorous protestations, are not a self-made man, and in fact have had many privileges afforded to you

    You owe your success to your great-grandparents, to soldiers who risked their lives to free your family members from the camps (something I don’t recall your mentioning, but that’s an entirely different story) , to the hard work of your teachers and to the support of your friends. You owe your good luck in part to the excellent privilege of good health and resources that allowed you to get to where you are. Want to see how all this changes? Dad loses his job and can’t afford to pay your tuition. You (God forbid) get sick and need to take some extended time off from school, or end up on drugs. Would you be patting yourself quite so firmly on your back then?

    Learn the valuable lesson of humility and giving back to those less fortunate. May I suggest you spend some time with some children affllicted by diseases they did not sign up for, but will surely affect their ability to attend Yale, or any other university. This is what minding your privilege is all about. That you haven’t learned this very important life lesson by this point in your personal journey is rather sad.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 12:29 pm
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    I have read through most of the Replies to this man of courage to speak his thoughts. I am saddened by most peoples replies, and taken back by some. My father and mother raised me and my sisters in a house on one principle. ” You get out of life son not what you deserve, but what you work for to earn”. He used to say this to me all the time.

    I worked as a construction worker for my father for 10 years. I started off hating my job-after all I was a spoiled young kid with no sense of privilege of my own that my father didnt give me. I started off making under minimum wage as it was his choice that I started my own life path, and found my own way in life as he did. My father also came from nothing. He was raised with 6 brothers and sisters by his mother who worked on and off as a waitress. The clothes they wore were drapes from homes they lived in when they were not evicted by lack of rent paid. My grandmother did the best she could, but lack of good jobs for woman in the 60’s and 70’s led to my father dropping out of school at age 13 to help pay for the growing bills. He played a key part to the survival, as talked in another post, for him and his 6 younger brothers and sister. That lack of education but strong will to survive led him to building one of the largest construction firms in the state of Pennsylvania. Not bad for a kid that didn’t make it past 9th grade.

    His hard ethics on me his oldest son led to my strength and will. I started my own company when I was 27 years old. My company has top honors in 4 counties, and continues to grow not because I was privileged, but because my hard work and dedication paid off at mastering my life skills. I found my way in life, and will instill the same value on my children my father instilled in me. At a young age I found success that no one gave me but myself. Everything I own today was built off of $5.25 an hour.

    American dreams are not built on the backs of men who are handed torches. They are built on the backs of men who were instilled with core values that any dream can be accomplished by putting your pants on every day and doing what you have to for the sake of your family. One will never find success if they accept the defeat from social behavior. My instincts tell me that not one soul in the universe can ever tell me I cant be somebody. My ethics tell me that if I put my mind to a task I can accomplish said task.

    In conclusion to my story and agreeance of this article I want to add. Skin color and social status do not make the man, they only prohibit him from achieving his personal goals. Men with lots of money are not successful in my eyes, but the hard working dedication by men with spirit outweigh all the riches in the world. I am blessed with opportunity all the time. These opportunities fall into my lap not because I am privileged, but because I worked my tail off to be the best at what I do. You master your life skills, and you cant help but to fall into opportunity. Thats not a race thing, thats a life thing. so I say the same that my father said…….”You don’t get out of life what you deserve, but what you work for”!!!!! Change the way you think, and see if that doesn’t help your situation.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 12:45 pm
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    “allowed . . . I to flourish.” At Princeton? Hmmm.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 12:48 pm
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    Let’s be real, white people. Any “oppressions” lived by our European ancestors, while tragic and formative to family narrative, or hardships endured by our parents, have very little to do with the lives we live as part of this generation and the opportunities available to us. So maybe I didn’t live in the biggest house or prettiest neighborhood growing up, or my single mom had to pull extra hours to help us get by. But guess what? Nobody shot at me on my way to school (they didn’t shoot at you either), nobody followed me around a store trying to make me feel “watched” (they didn’t follow you either), nobody narrowed their eyes at me when I applied for part-time work wondering if I could be trusted behind a cash register (they didn’t look at you funny either). Nobody made negative assumptions about me or you at first glance. You and me, we were always seen as individuals, not exemplifications of a rule, or exceptions to one. When they saw me or you walking down the street, words like “stand your ground” didn’t seem relevant. This isn’t because of “all the incredible things my ancestors endured”. It’s because I’m white, plain and simple, and nobody has to look at my transcript, or my I-90, or my W2 for me to prove it. It doesn’t matter that my grandparents are from non-English speaking countries and came to the US after slavery had ended. They reaped benefits from a system that historically has never distributed those benefits equally. And along with work ethic or ingenuity or whatever other characteristics you want to ascribe to heritage, we’ve inherited those benefits as well. Privileges, in other words. You can’t shed those privileges by making your life seem harder or sadder or more under-doggy. You have to check them. Your efforts and ideas certainly guide you forward, but unless you are a sustenance farmer, somebody somewhere has to open a door for you. Privilege means the doors open much more easily. The door to Princeton University, for example. The door to the bank that gave you your college loans (assuming you need them). The door to a media outlet for your SAT-prep-class-vocab-laden shitty editorial (you know who you are).

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  • May 3, 2014 at 12:51 pm
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    Great article! Well written and with great eloquence. I commend you on taking an unpopular stance in a politically correct/liberal leaning society.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 12:52 pm
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    Dear Tal,

    I read the New York Times article and wanted to read yours in full. You’re right, you shouldn’t apologize for the privileges you’ve had in your life or for your race or sex. We don’t choose what family, country or body we are born into and don’t have any control over that. You should be proud of your family history, their strength and resilience. Every person in this world has a family history and one can’t possible know or understand that just by what your look like. You mention toward the end of the article that you are privileged, privileged to have grown up in a family environment where your parents valued education and spent time making sure you learned and grew into not only an educated person but one with morale and cultural values. That is a privilege and I respect you for recognizing that. As you know, many Americans and people around the world don’t have that same support from their family, they aren’t encouraged to go to school or maybe aren’t even given that opportunity. You grew up in a place where your family worked hard and was able to provide you with food every day, a good education, a roof over your head, a neighborhood not instilled with violence and probably even a suit to go to your high school prom. All of these things, many, even myself often take for granted on a daily basis because particularly in this country and in the circles of elite colleges, we often assume everyone has or grew up with. However, to assume, often, as the saying goes, makes an “ass” of “u” and “me”. People shouldn’t assume what your upbringing was or what your family history is but simultaneously, consider the long list of benefits and advantages you’ve been given in life. “Check your privilege” is harsh and in the context of race, sex or gender inappropriate. Privilege is not solely race, sex or gender, it’s about everything, your whole life, everything you call your own, the experiences, trips, classes, everything that you’ve been able to do in your life, even the college you worked long and hard to attend. You’ve learned and grown as an individual from all your given and earned experiences. And while you shouldn’t apologize for that, I encourage you to think about all you have done and be humbled by it, grateful for it, and use that knowledge and experience to encourage your friends, family, classmates, future co-workers and everyone that you touch in your life, to promote the values of education, of a safe, loving and supportive upbringing, of diversity and of morals that you were given by your parents and now continue to thrive on and support to make a positive impact. Don’t let ego, resentment or personal rivalries allow your comments and impact to be negative. Be grateful for the life you’ve been given and have earned and help and encourage others to have the opportunity to do the same. Don’t apologize for your privileges but don’t get angry, USE THEM.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 1:20 pm
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    The checking of your privilege is an exercise that has to do with relating your current position to the positions of others around you. It does not belittle you or your work to recognize the systemic dependencies that put you in the position you are in.
    Your name and your money put you where you are, not your skin color.

    As a white male who has survived with no income, health care, or reliable housing for the last four years, our respective privilege is very different; Though we share a space in the color spectrum of humanity, we are at opposite ends of an economic spectrum, and that has a much greater bearing on our privilege.

    If you would like to avoid the typical commentary offered to white males, I would suggest a change of attire. Wear the same beat up brown overalls for weeks on end without washing, a series of ugly but brightly colored t shirts throughout the week, and a sweaty bandana covering a crop of wildly un-maintained mane, and people will not be so hasty to accuse you of flaunting privilege. It would also help if you dug trenches until your back was bent into an achy question mark, and then rolled around in the dust for a bit.

    Though your skin will always be a marker for opinion, your economic position is what gathers attention to it.
    And if you’d rather not trying being poor and getting dirt on you to avoid such harsh judgement, at least remember that there are lot of people below you economically who are working very hard to provide you with the privilege you have.

    We are the smelly, loud, opinionated folks who grow food for you ivy league kids…
    The disenfranchised white male farmers of America.
    So you had better impress us with your expensive mind,
    And use your comfortable position to make the world better.
    Lest we put down our shovels and stop toiling in the hot dust for your privilege to sit in an air conditioned room with access to a great wealth of knowledge we too might enjoy studying, if we could afford it.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go plant some broccoli.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 1:34 pm
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    I can appreciate the narrative; Jewish immigrants flea oppression, work hard, and become successful in America. What I don’t understand is how the author’s grandparent’s and parent’s struggles demonstrate that the author is not privileged. The author gives vague reference to the fact that he has overcome certain obstacles, “But I do condemn them for diminishing everything I have personally accomplished, all the hard work I have done in my life, and for ascribing all the fruit I reap not to the seeds I sow but to some invisible patron saint of white maleness who places it out for me before I even arrive.” unfortunately, in my humble opinion, he falls short of providing me as a reader with any evidence that he was not privileged. Perhaps I missed it, but I didn’t see a portion of the narrative that explained, “all the hard work,” he makes mention to. Also, he does a wonderful job of describing the very “patron saints” he claims to not exist; they are the subjects of his narrative, his grandparents and parents.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 1:39 pm
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    You white folks are killing me… literally.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 2:01 pm
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    You’re not white. Stop saying you are. Jews are not white.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 2:03 pm
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    Check YOUR privilege, not your dads, or grand dads, you are PRIVELEGED to be there because of THEIR hard work, and sacrifice. Not because of your skin color. No-body ever told you that you were there because
    you were white. For an Ivy League honkie, you are not that bright.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 2:24 pm
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    You need to read Capital in the Twenty-First Century. The struggles of your ancestors are irrelevant to the privilege you now enjoy as the son of wealthy parents growing up in one of the wealthiest communities in the United States. This column is a joke.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 2:46 pm
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    check your privilege, doge

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  • May 3, 2014 at 3:16 pm
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    Mr. Tal Fortgang,
    I support you, 100%
    Reverend James G. Borden
    Christian Lincoln Park Church, Hilo, Hawaii

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  • May 3, 2014 at 3:19 pm
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    Even though he doesn’t understand the meaning of privilege , I sympathized with writer and his touching story till he mentioned “tea party”, the far right-wing group who are notorious for their inflammatory speeches and racist positions, even by the admission of mainstream Republicans. I would like to ask Mr. Fortgang about his views towards the Palestinians treatment in Israel, west bank and Gaza ( Since he bragged about the Jewish heritage and his Hebrew learning and the “faith” in his article)? Are those Jewish settlers in West bank who are living and building on a land taken from Palestinians are privileged or earned that land by ” merit and hard work”? Are the Israeli Jews who in Israel who are favored over Arab Israelis in housing, education and hiring policies of the Israeli government earned that favoritism through “hard work” or because they were privileged ? I’m really curious to know even though I know the typical Zionist answers to these Israeli policies.

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    • May 29, 2014 at 1:47 am
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      Could you kindly restate your remarks in intelligible English, please? I sense you’re upset about something or other in Israel, but I am not sure what. There are NO Palestinian people, only Arabs who live in Israeli territory, who use that fake identity for political gain, if you can call being used as a political tool by other Arab nations “gain”!!

      Israel, as a nation, has every right there is to exist and be left in peace by her neighbors. That those neighbors have chosen to try to forcibly eliminate Israel has led to more than one bloody nose, and, as a military professional, a retired U. S. Marine, I applaud and support Israel in doing whatever it takes to beat back those whose stated goal is to kill all the Jews who live there and steal their land.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 3:28 pm
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    What Mr. Fortgang failed to see is that in many instances “privilege” refers to the inherent qualities which we ourselves have NO control over but play a role in the way in which society views us. In other words, Mr. Fortgang is a white male which ALREADY affords him a sense of privilege – regardless of his past – Mr. Fortgang lives in a society where a white man is less likely to be pulled over by cops, where a white man will get less stares walking into an office building, etc.

    It is THIS inherent privilege which we need to be aware of – I’m not discrediting the work of Mr. Fortgang or the struggles which his family has faced – all of which are valid – and I also don’t blame Mr. Fortgang for having “privilege” – he had no control over his race or gender. I’m also not saying that people don’t sometimes use the “privilege” card the right way – sometimes it is used to discredit the work of one individual.

    I am saying, however, that privilege is a very real thing that we need to be aware of. While many people may preach that all black males or POC need to do is “work hard” or “not follow the trend” they fail to realize that on TOP of having to work hard to get out of their situation, they face additional inherent discrimination.

    I’m not asking white people to apologize and I’m certainly not saying that the term “privilege” is used correctly – I’m just asking that people begin to recognize the inherent societal privileges afforded to them.

    -Another white guy

    Reply
  • May 3, 2014 at 3:45 pm
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    This whole article focuses on the wrong interpretation of privilege.
    It focuses on the privilege of having more; being wealthier. That is not our privilege as white males; there are plenty of white males who don’t have any such advantage.

    Ours is the privilege of being exempt from the plethora of social stigmas associated with being black, or hispanic or any minority for the duration of our lives.
    Yes, as a white male, you still deserve to be where you are. You earned it. You worked hard and succeeded. Nobody can ever say you didn’t. What you should acknowledge is that to get where you are, someone who’s black or hispanic would have to work just as hard as you AND face the difficulties of these prejudices all along the way, from their very first days in school. Social stigmas such as ‘black people don’t do well academically’ or ‘women are not good at maths’ have a huge impact on very young kids and how they perform. If you want actual research to back that up, look up the famous ‘blue eyes vs. brown eyes’ social experiment done with kids in a classroom. As white males are never hampered by those influences, from kindergarten to university to the work force.
    That is our privilege.

    Reply
  • May 3, 2014 at 3:54 pm
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    Wow, another racist bullshit article from a white cis hetero male, how surprising. Sorry your parents fled the Nazis (OTHER WHITE PEOPLE, BIG SURPRISE) to come to America to shit on people of color. You went to Princeton, certainly you have no inherent privilege granted to you through the patriarchy. Fuck you, white piece of shit.

    Reply
  • May 3, 2014 at 3:57 pm
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    Reading this essay, it’s clear to me that there’s a reason someone told this smug twat to “check his privilege.” (Hint: It ain’t because he’s white)

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  • May 3, 2014 at 4:17 pm
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    Tal. All that phrase means is that you should think about where you personally have been lucky, and think about how to cultivate empathy towards people with other experiences.

    I’m an Ivy League graduate of German Jewish descent. I don’t get to use my family’s struggles as an excuse to imply I know stuff I don’t know.

    Do you know what it is to be hungry? No. Do you know what it is to fear that if you go out on a date with the wrong person you’ll be raped? If you’re straight, no, you don’t. Will you be denied entry to a business or have people watch you carefully while you shop in a store because of the color of your skin? No. These are things happening all around you, every day, right in Princeton, that you probably don’t think about a lot.

    In a world where a billion people go to bed hungry, where many humans don’t have clean water to drink, and where your fellow students have experiences that, if you’re curious and open, you can learn a lot from, we all need to check our privelege. If you want to do right by your family’s struggles to escape the horrors our people endured, then don’t be so defensive about a phrase that simply means, “you need to listen and learn to have empathy right here.” That’s a great challenge that really has nothing to do with who you vote for, or whether or not you believe in God, or where your people came from, or whether they endured a Shoah, slavery, a potato famine, or nothing at all.

    If some people have said that to you, try to ignore that it sounds like a buzzword, and ask questions. What did you mean by that? Is there something I said that offended you? Is there something I need to learn here? People with big hearts and great minds (on the Right, the Left, and in the middle) ask questions, and people who have the GREAT PRIVILEGE of an Ivy League education ought to open their hearts and their minds to what they can do to help. The first way to help is to listen and understand.

    -Jennie Livingston
    Brooklyn, NY

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    • May 11, 2014 at 12:02 am
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      great letter Jennie! Did you hear back from the young man? may I ask where in Brooklyn do you live?

      Reply
    • May 28, 2014 at 9:36 pm
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      It is not up to you or anyone else to tell ANYONE to “check their privilege. Who elected you or Mr. Fortgang’s professors his Moral Compass? That’s nonsense. While it is horrible that in today’s day and age we still live in a society that follows a black man around a store, it is equally wrong to assume that a white male is not only automatically “privileged” but is unaware of the goings-on in the world – or is unappreciative of what has – either earned or inherited.

      The problem with biases are the assumptions behind them. This Check Your Privilege crap is as racist as patting down a black kid because of the color of his bandana. Discrimination is discrimination.

      Reply
  • May 3, 2014 at 4:28 pm
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    Shaniqua,

    You my dear exemplify precisely what young Fortgang wrote about: you are so enamoured of your ‘victim’ status, that you can get past yourself: you DEMAND that someone hand you all you want, when you want it, and how you want, and you never have to foot the bill for all of it.

    Your river of tears demanded is a cop out, yet another crutch that you provide yourself so that you needn’t take responsibility for your thoughts, your words, or your actions. You make excuses for how you think, what you say, and for the severely bigoted positions which you reflect so clearly in the racist terms you directed toward young Fortgang:

    “..poor Mayo boy…”, “…white boy..”

    Let’s change it around shall we, but for you this time?:

    :.poor Choco girl…”, “…black girl..”

    Do YOU like the sound of those phrases? No?

    You shouldn’t like the sound of them, because the prime focus is skin color, rather that the character of the person at whom they are being directed. Get the drift?

    I would add that your implied anti-European (white) bigotry when it comes to just who killed whom, and for how long all of that went on, illustrates a SEVERE ignorance of history, HUMAN history, and the foundations of why things happen. The proof of it is in the vacuous manner in which you give African history a pass on the ‘standard’ you seem to use against white Europeans.

    News flash oh proud ‘victim’: Africans sold Africans into slavery in West Africa, because when the slave trade began, and for the next approximately 300 years, the white Europeans could not and did not venture too far inland, because of the ‘bad air’ (Bing search the Spanish word ‘mal aria’).

    Yoruba peoples conquered Ibo/Igbo peoples and many others along the coastal and near-inland areas, while the Fulani Muslims raided other black African peoples and sold them to the Yoruba for the slave trade.

    The tens of thousands of black slaves who were forced onto those ships, were sold into that situation by OTHER black Africans.

    Oh yes, the names of the fine fellows for the first, roughly, two hundred years of the slave trade?

    Hispanic names, because for those first nearly two hundred years, the Spanish and Portuguese ran nearly all of the slave trade, THEN came slaver merchants with Dutch, French, and English names, but only AFTER the Spaniards and Portuguese nations diminished in power.

    Here’s another News Flash Shaniqua: the Slave Trade is STILL ongoing: it is engaged in by BLACK Muslim Africans, as the latest act to go public in Nigeria proves all to well; Muslims acting according to what the Muslim prophet Muhammad commanded, and his successors commanded: that enslaving non-Muslims is a profitable and ‘allah’ supported positive act, NOT a sin.

    Arabs by black African slaves, they’ve been doing that at least since 600 AD in Kenya and southwards in East Africa, and for longer than that in North Africa.

    Slavery was not a ‘white’ invention: it was a human invention, practiced in nearly every culture, in every land, for nearly all of human history.

    I know none of these FACTS will sway you from your deeply held bigoted points of view; that would take a supreme effort to confront yourself, your severely ignorant misconceptions, and the very clear hatred which you so carefully nourish in your heart, towards white people.

    Check your victim privilege Shaniquah.

    Reply
  • May 3, 2014 at 4:35 pm
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    Funny how your “privilege” derives from what your parents and grandparents did, not anything you’ve done or earned.

    It is your privilege to have been born into a family of means, given to you by generations before you.

    It’s your shallow character, however, that equates the luck of genetics with superiority, that because you heard the stories of the challenges your parents and grandparents overcame, you’ve somehow experienced them yourself.

    Unfortunately, you haven’t been privileged enough to inherit the humility your parents and grandparents exhibited through hard work and determination. Nor do you understand, as they likely do, that self-aggrandizement does not come from strength of character, but from a misappropriated sense of entitlement and, yes, privilege.

    Reply
    • May 29, 2014 at 8:57 pm
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      “Funny how your “privilege” derives from what your parents and grandparents did, not anything you’ve done or earned.”

      And yet he references “you didn’t build that.”

      Privileged AND entitled.

      Reply
  • May 3, 2014 at 5:17 pm
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    As a campus recruiter, keep in mind that this is a highly charged subject and regardless of whether you agree with him or not, be careful what kind of essay you prominently display in your online school newspaper. First thing we do is google and check social media websites. A bunch of red flags here. Not a good idea to publicly bash the school you went to or their professors (“moral superiors”). Save these conversations for the classroom.

    Reply
    • May 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm
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      RIP free speech. Nice bit of ominous threat-making there, “J”.

      Reply
  • May 3, 2014 at 5:20 pm
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    Shaniqua,

    You my dear exemplify precisely what young Fortgang wrote about: you are so enamoured of your ‘victim’ status, that you can get past yourself: you DEMAND that someone hand you all you want, when you want it, and how you want, and you never have to foot the bill for all of it.

    Your river of tears demanded is a cop out, yet another crutch that you provide yourself so that you needn’t take responsibility for your thoughts, your words, or your actions. You make excuses for how you think, what you say, and for the severely bigoted positions which you reflect so clearly in the racist terms you directed toward young Fortgang:

    “..poor Mayo boy…”, “…white boy..”

    Let’s change it around shall we, but for you this time?:

    :.poor Choco girl…”, “…black girl..”

    Do YOU like the sound of those phrases? No?

    You shouldn’t like the sound of them, because the prime focus is skin color, rather that the character of the person at whom they are being directed. Get the drift?

    I would add that your implied anti-European (white) bigotry when it comes to just who killed whom, and for how long all of that went on, illustrates a SEVERE ignorance of history, HUMAN history, and the foundations of why things happen. The proof of it is in the vacuous manner in which you give African history a pass on the ‘standard’ you seem to use against white Europeans.

    News flash oh proud ‘victim’: Africans sold Africans into slavery in West Africa, because when the slave trade began, and for the next approximately 300 years, the white Europeans could not and did not venture too far inland, because of the ‘bad air’ (Bing search the Spanish word ‘mal aria’).

    Yoruba peoples conquered Ibo/Igbo peoples and many others along the coastal and near-inland areas, while the Fulani Muslims raided other black African peoples and sold them to the Yoruba for the slave trade.

    The tens of thousands of black slaves who were forced onto those ships, were sold into that situation by OTHER black Africans.

    Oh yes, the names of the fine fellows for the first, roughly, two hundred years of the slave trade?

    Hispanic names, because for those first nearly two hundred years, the Spanish and Portuguese ran nearly all of the slave trade, THEN came slaver merchants with Dutch, French, and English names, but only AFTER the Spaniards and Portuguese nations diminished in power.

    Here’s another News Flash Shaniqua: the Slave Trade is STILL ongoing: it is engaged in by BLACK Muslim Africans, as the latest act to go public in Nigeria proves all to well; Muslims acting according to what the Muslim prophet Muhammad commanded, and his successors commanded: that enslaving non-Muslims is a profitable and ‘allah’ supported positive act, NOT a sin.

    Arabs by black African slaves, they’ve been doing that at least since 600 AD in Kenya and southwards in East Africa, and for longer than that in North Africa.

    Slavery was not a ‘white’ invention: it was a human invention, practiced in nearly every culture, in every land, for nearly all of human history.

    I know none of these FACTS will sway you from your deeply held bigoted points of view; that would take a supreme effort to confront yourself, your severely ignorant misconceptions, and the very clear hatred which you so carefully nourish in your heart, towards white people.

    Check your victim privilege Shaniquah.

    Reply
    • May 21, 2014 at 2:28 am
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      Shes just your typical poor me nigger who hates the white man. Well you know what, i dont like blacks either. I hate all races, including white. But at least white people have class, morals, a rich history and PRIDE! You are just a bunch of handouts, who dont deserve half of what you get.

      Reply
  • May 3, 2014 at 5:26 pm
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    Is whining about “check your privilege” really just a form of “persecuted victim-hood”? Poor baby…

    Reply
  • May 3, 2014 at 5:33 pm
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    The white privilege argument doesn’t really apply to somebody who got into a school like Princeton for two reasons. Firstly, white students are roughly proportional to their numbers in the general population because Asians, who make up 20-25% of Ivy League undergrads, are so overrepresented.

    Secondly, saying that somebody got into Princeton because of white privilege is a silly argument, because you’re talking about something that 95% of white high school graduates couldn’t do. There may still be a few rich kids who get in because of connections, but that isn’t white privilege so much as wealth privilege. I’ll give Tal the benefit of the doubt and assume his high school grades and SATs were at the very high level of the average Princetonian. Maybe that argument would apply to some average but expensive college that a mediocre student could get into, but not the Ivy League, which only takes the best and brightest.

    Tal may have had a very privileged upbringing and more breaks than you did, but so what? His getting into Princeton shows that he isn’t wasting it. It’s not how much privilege you have, since you have no choice in the matter, it’s what you do with it. If you want privileged people to feel ashamed of themselves, how about focusing on the rich kids who had everything handed to them and threw it away and still managed to screw up their lives? Why do you have to take something away from someone whose head is on straight and wants to make something of himself?

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    • May 20, 2014 at 12:36 pm
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      Asians are actually underrepresented in terms of their performance (see http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-myth-of-american-meritocracy/). From Ron Unz’s excellent article, the very fact that you are white gives you an advantage over someone who is Asian. That is privilege.

      I criticize your viewpoint because it inappropriately downsizes the observation that racial discrimination (and conversely, racial privilege) play a tremendous role in areas such as college admissions.

      Reply
  • May 3, 2014 at 5:57 pm
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    prej·u·dice
    ?prej?d?s/
    noun
    noun: prejudice; plural noun: prejudices

    1.
    preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.
    “English prejudice against foreigners”
    synonyms: preconceived idea, preconception, prejudgment More

    The prejudice which your moral superiors claim to be fighting, is exactly what they have foisted upon you. The irony is delicious. Excellent article.

    Reply
  • May 3, 2014 at 6:28 pm
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    This is sad. Read the article “Unpacking the Invisible Backpack.” White privilege exists even though those benefiting from it did not cause it. IT exists even if the majority of white people have to work very hard to climb the ladder. It never says that a person does not have to work hard because they have privilege . It just says that some are handed out a pass when a person makes a mistakes while others are systematically passed some kind of obstacle.

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    • May 12, 2014 at 8:18 pm
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      It just says that some are handed out a pass when a person makes a mistakes…

      Bill Clinton
      Barack Obama
      Hillary Clinton
      Ted Kennedy
      Every democrat politician.

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      • May 31, 2014 at 11:25 am
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        And you as well when you butcher the English language by using a noun as an adjective!

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    • May 25, 2014 at 11:59 am
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      Can you recommend another article, Kirsten? In her essay, “Unpacking the Invisible Backpack,” Ms. McIntosh encourages some healthy reflections and presents a useful metaphor. Does she or someone else have a perspective from 2014, rather than 1989? I ask this with a sincere interest in finding a current expression of “white privilege.” I am seeking divergent viewpoints in articles for my students regarding race, and particularly one that may respond to Mr. Fortgang’s ideas. Since women and various cultures have made great strides within the past 25 years to gain equality, I’m hoping that there is a more current perspective that still strikes a nerve and illuminates “white privilege.” Sincerely, August D’Angelo

      Reply
  • May 3, 2014 at 6:54 pm
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    I admire your reflections that brought you to your successes today, and their validity to the person you are is unquestionable. Let me share an experience of mine that I hope you find valuable.

    When I started college, I thought myself as consciously aware of systems of privilege. After all, I am Jewish, a woman, and a lesbian-all of which are minorities, groups that experience prejudice and subjugation in society. I did not see myself as a contributor to the dominating white, male privileged oppressive society we live in. I was the exact opposite…I was also not racist, not ageist, not sexist. I didn’t discriminate against people of faith or color.

    The point you are missing here, which took me a number of courses to see, is that privilege is a covert SYSTEM that involves far more than race or religion and we ALL participate in it. It involves all conditions that make up our identities such as income, race, sexual orientation, gender/gender expression, religion, age…. It is all over our world, overt (banning gay marriage) and in ways we cannot see until they are pointed out to us. Examples:Binary gendered bathrooms. The phrase “you guys.” identifying a person as “that asian/black guy over there in the white hat.” (which we don’t do for white people) the visualizations we have in our mind when we think of a profession (cop, firefighter, park ranger…what gender did you think of?)

    Privilege ebbs and flows with context. Depending on the situation, I as a woman may have privilege over you, or a person with a disability even though I have epilepsy. We as Jewish people can hold privilege over others. The issue is not about YOU having privilege. The issue is about awareness, opening your eyes to circumstances of power and privilege, identifying the oppressive, overt and covert biases that may be taking place and TALKING about it. Realizing my own privilege did not equate to guilt. I never once felt guilty. Being aware of the conditions of privilege I have, such as an education, a part time job, being a white person, coming from an upper middle class family-these are simply just real, despite conditions that also knock me down a couple pegs. Understanding social problems through this lens has empowered me to watch what I say, what I joke about, how I address others…it’s taught me to “check my privilege” for the better. I am able to be an informed advocate because I know when I need to listen instead of giving my white-ass two cents, and I am learning when and how to speak up as inclusively as possible.

    My advice to you is to back up for a second and stop taking this phrase as a personal attack. Nobody is undermining you and your accomplishments. By assuming this, you are misunderstanding what the phrase means.

    Learn how to listen instead of defending your honor, and you might just get the hang of this. Also, read the “Invisible Knapsack.”

    Reply
    • May 20, 2014 at 8:58 pm
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      “Jewish, a woman, and a lesbian-all of which are minorities,”
      (1) Women are not a minority group, approximately half the human population consists of women. (2) Homosexuals are a minority – for they do not reproduce very much. The human race would go out of existence if a majority were homosexual.

      Reply
    • May 31, 2014 at 12:49 pm
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      So eloquent–yes, yes, yes! I would like to copy this to share with others. Thank you!

      Reply
  • May 3, 2014 at 6:54 pm
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    How about, freshman totally misses the point? No one diminishes his family’s tragic story of persecution by the Nazis. Heck, African Americans were oppressed for over 300 years in these United States of America. Native Indian populations were exterminated all throughout North, Central, and South America by European conquistadors. My own family was run out of El Salvador because of a civil war that was the proxy “hotspot” of the Cold War between the U.S. and USSR. BOO the FUCK who. Do you see me complaining because I’ve been told in one form or another to check my heterosexual, male, middle class privilege? Do you see me saying, well, you know, your “check your privilege” comment doesn’t apply to me because I’m a minority, whose parents grew up dirt poor, and had to toil and struggle up every single god damn inch out of El Salvador, for years, to build up the amazing opportunities that come with the middle class American Dream? NO. That’s NOT THE POINT, you obnoxious kid. Even if, at the end of “checking your privilege” you conclude you’ve got nothing to “apologize” about, due to your family’s hardships (which apparently, hardship seems to be hereditary to you; they went through it, and through story-telling time, so did you??), then I find the most probable cause to be that your head was lodged in so far up your ass that all you could fart out was: I’m not sorry. No one asked you to be sorry, stupid. Totally missed the point. And now your idiot-ness, especially because you go to Princeton, justifies it for a bunch of others who perhaps thought held your view but never had the courage to express or articulate just how stupid they were in public. Congratulations.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 6:58 pm
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    Two runners of exactly equal speed and ability compete in a medium distance race. Runner A is permitted to start the race 100 yards in front of Runner B and goes on to win the race by a 105 yard margin. After the race, Runner A, proudly wearing his gold medal, congratulates his opponent on an admirable effort, but proudly points out his substantial margin of victory. Runner B responds by telling Runner A to check his privilege.

    Seems pretty straightforward. If Runner A implies that merit alone is responsible for the result, it seems reasonable for Runner B to point out the obvious. It is a bit twisted to say that Runner B has somehow abused Runner A. (And if the guilt is too much to bear, Runner A can always choose to level the playing field.)

    Underneath all the noise is a simple truth. Privilege is a factor in success. You don’t have to be a student at an elite university to see that. And it seems reasonable to ask a bright, capable student to reflect on that fact and use it to illuminate his life and inform his decisions and actions. Even as he continues to enjoy the advantages of privilege.

    Reply
    • May 13, 2014 at 10:51 am
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      From my perspective, there are three issues with the whole “privilege” movement and I’ll put them in terms of your metaphor.

      1. It seems the advocates for the privilege movement aren’t asking for the runners to use the same starting line, they’re asking for Runner B to be given a medal too because it is assumed he would’ve or should’ve won the race had the starting lines been the same. Of course this will be true in many cases — but it won’t be true in every case. Progressives seem to advocate redistribution of outcomes as a just reaction to an unequal playing field. That is absolutely unjust and inconsistent with a meritocracy. I don’t see how imposing a second injustice (taking medals from some and giving them to others) is any less immoral than the first injustice (different starting lines).

      I would argue we need cultural and educational reform in this country that will level the playing field. Let’s stop letting teacher’s unions run the educational system. We’ve TRIPLED spending on education in the past 40 years without changing anything. We need an educational system that provides access to high-quality education, holds teachers and administrators accountable, promotes innovation (because that’s how things improve), and gives parents choices.

      Let’s promote two-parent households that dramatically reduce the likelihood of living in poverty. Let’s encourage all communities and all families to promote education and then provide the best educational options to parents and children. These are the things that will narrow the gap between the starting lines.

      2. There seems to be an assumption that the distance in the starting lines is not something that is controllable by the runners. If the Runner B’s of the world would stop voting for politicians who do absolutely nothing to reduce the starting line gap and instead just want to take medals from some people and give them to others, the gap will always remain. Those politicians KNOW their policies don’t reduce the gap. They KNOW it. They don’t care. They just want to remain in office and if giving people medals keeps them in office, that’s what they’ll do. It is immoral and disgusting.

      3. The greatest disservice that the redistribution of medals has is that it deprives people of earned success — and earned success is the key predictor of happiness. So let’s do the hard work of reducing the gaps between in the starting lines but stop taking people’s medals away and giving them to people who didn’t win. The truth is, there are plenty of medals to be won — we don’t need to take them from some to give them to others. We just need to give people a fair start and then let the fastest runners reap their benefits. Forcibly taking medals from some and giving them to others assumes that the person doing the taking and giving KNOWS who is faster. Or, it assumes that no one is any faster than anyone else. The first assumption is impossible to make accurately and the second assumption is demonstrably false. Therefore, it is immoral to take medals from some and give them to others.

      Now, I’ve made some assumptions in this post. I’ve assumed that as a “privilege” promoter, you are a leftist. I may be entirely wrong. My point is simply that I don’t deny that some people have an easier time of it and more advantageous circumstances than others — but I do take issue with the reaction that many people have to that. Their reactions is to take from some (through force of law) and give to others based upon their own (inevitably flawed) perception of the situation.

      I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want ALL people to be given a fair shake and given a fair opportunity to rise or to fall based upon their own merits and their own performance — well, except for redistributionists.

      Let’s fix the starting line issue — then the medal issue takes care of itself.

      Reply
      • May 20, 2014 at 2:44 am
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        On the tripled cost of education over the last 40 years: It may be useful to remember that for generations the U.S. educational system was subsidised by denial of professional opportunities for women outside nursing or education. We had the brightest and best educated women of each generation teaching our kids for next to nothing because their professional options were severely restricted.

        Reply
  • May 3, 2014 at 6:58 pm
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    Typical black response. Boo hoo, you owe me. I don’t owe shit. Get over your “victim syndrome” too funny , because I’m a white male I’m priveleged. Bullcrap. I grew up in a single parent home. I didn’t get involved in drugs problems with the police, rob people, father children out of wedlock and I certainly didn’t sit around for the blessed Government to rescue me. To make this short. I graduated high school, I served my country I was wounded, I worked a job for 26 years and retired because my wounds caught up to me.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 7:24 pm
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    What a great story of a family overcoming the incredible to provide their children opportunities and dreams beyond their reach.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 7:35 pm
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    Only the losers in life tell other people to “check their privileges”.

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    • May 11, 2014 at 7:27 pm
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      …and only REAL losers take it seriously enough to actually write nonsense like this. I’ve been reading ABOUT this for a while, but this is the first time I’ve read the actual piece…all I can say is O…M…G. This may be the most cluless piece of claptrap I have EVER seen. No wonder so many politicians hail from the Ivies…if you can convince the great unwashed to buy this cr-p, you might just be president one day. I suppose this would fall under the department “Embarrassingly First World Problems” at Princeton. I know the administration has been wincing for weeks.

      Reply
  • May 3, 2014 at 7:45 pm
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    And that, Shaniqua, is why you will be stuck in the past. It’s the only place you look. FYI the first African Americans were owned by African Americans. Try making something of yourself instead of using your heritage as a crutch to whine about life. Trouble getting into college? Earn better grades, look into improving yourself. I am an African American. To me, the only people I see holding back the African Americans is themselves. Don’t like the U.S. find somewhere else to live.

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    • May 11, 2014 at 11:01 am
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      Thank You M. Williams. I 100% agree with you. Why should I be punished by affirimation action just because I was born white.

      Reply
  • May 3, 2014 at 8:19 pm
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    I appreciated your story, shared in your sorrow and applaud your victory. Whether it’s “Judge not lest ye be judged”. or “Never judge a book by it’s cover”, you are so right. You cannot determine the content of one’s character based on physical appearance alone.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 8:34 pm
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    Tal, you clearly don’t understand what “privilege” means. Your arrogance is really astonishing. Though your ancestors had difficult lives, they were your ancestors – they’re not you. Honestly, Tal, they have nothing to do with you. This false narrative of suffering is completely irrelevant to your life now, as a rich white male in 2014, and the fact that you don’t get that really speaks to your limited imagination. And now you have yet one more privilege, in addition to being white, straight, wealthy, male, and cisgendered – you get to brag about other people’s suffering as if it’s somehow your own.

    Take a look at this wonderful list written by Peggy McIntosh. Just by the luck of the draw, look at all the wonderful things your skin color has afforded you – and that’s just for being white. You’re lucky in countless other ways. You won the genetic lottery. Wow. Congratulations.

    This is what we mean when we talk about privilege. How lucky are you that you can take all this for granted and STILL somehow claim you’ve been short-changed, still claim that you don’t have any advantage. When we say “check your privilege” (god only knows the shit that came out of your face that prompted people to tell you that) all we mean is, “Just be aware of this reality – be aware that there’s lots of stuff you can do, by virtue of luck.”

    1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

    2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.

    3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

    4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

    5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

    6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.

    7. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.

    8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

    9. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.

    10. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.

    11. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person’s voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.

    12. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.

    13. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.

    14. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.

    15. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.

    16. I can be pretty sure that my children’s teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others’ attitudes toward their race.

    17. I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.

    18. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.

    19. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.

    20. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.

    21. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.

    22. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world’s majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.

    23. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.

    24. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the “person in charge”, I will be facing a person of my race.

    25. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.

    26. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.

    27. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared.

    28. I can be pretty sure that an argument with a colleague of another race is more likely to jeopardize her/his chances for advancement than to jeopardize mine.

    29. I can be pretty sure that if I argue for the promotion of a person of another race, or a program centering on race, this is not likely to cost me heavily within my present setting, even if my colleagues disagree with me.

    30. If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.

    31. I can choose to ignore developments in minority writing and minority activist programs, or disparage them, or learn from them, but in any case, I can find ways to be more or less protected from negative consequences of any of these choices.

    32. My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races.

    33. I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.

    34. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.

    35. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.

    36. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had racial overtones.

    37. I can be pretty sure of finding people who would be willing to talk with me and advise me about my next steps, professionally.

    38. I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person of my race would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.

    39. I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.

    40. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.

    41. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.

    42. I can arrange my activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of rejection owing to my race.

    43. If I have low credibility as a leader I can be sure that my race is not the problem.

    44. I can easily find academic courses and institutions which give attention only to people of my race.

    45. I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to experiences of my race.

    46. I can chose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.

    47. I can travel alone or with my spouse without expecting embarrassment or hostility in those who deal with us.

    48. I have no difficulty finding neighborhoods where people approve of our household.

    49. My children are given texts and classes which implicitly support our kind of family unit and do not turn them against my choice of domestic partnership.

    50. I will feel welcomed and “normal” in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.

    Yes, you worked hard, but you started way ahead of most other people. You’re really not that special. In fact your pigheaded self-righteousness leads me to believe you’re worse than mediocre. Try living as anything else, or better yet, just imagining what it might be like to not be you, and then maybe we’ll have a real conversation.

    Until then, enjoy feeling superior to everyone just because – well, because of what? Because of nothing. God, I can’t wait till the day you’re busted for all kinds of heinous white collar extortions I know you’ll be part of one day and you blame it on…oh, I don’t know, you’ll find anyone other than yourself.

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    • May 11, 2014 at 5:12 pm
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      This could not sum up the conclusions of the state of mind, of the tal. I only wish I had said it. Thank you.

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    • May 11, 2014 at 7:21 pm
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      “Tal, you clearly don’t understand what “privilege” means. Your arrogance is really astonishing. Though your ancestors had difficult lives, they were your ancestors – they’re not you. Honestly, Tal, they have nothing to do with you.”

      That’s exactly the point he was trying to make, Mike. One should not be judged based on their ancestors. Since, as you said, our ancestors have nothing to do with us, then this “privilege” should not exist (therefore, your elegant, 50 point list, means nothing). Yet, in our society, it still does. Even though, as you said, “They have nothing to do with you,” anything anyone accomplishes or does not accomplish in our society (regardless of race) is simply due to our “privilege” passed down from our ancestors. If they have nothing to do with us, our accomplishments or lack thereof are ours and ours only. So thanks for the insight, Mike, I’m sure Tal got a good laugh out of your post, too, especially since you proved that his “feeling superior to everyone” is not because of nothing but instead because of his own decision to work harder than others in our society to get what he wants instead of wasting time complaining about how others who work harder than you only get what they want because of something that (to quote you, again) “has nothing to do with [them]”.

      Your arrogance, Mike, is what is truly astonishing here.

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      • May 16, 2014 at 5:41 pm
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        Except that every single one of those things are examples that affect people of minorities (and women) in the present day. Noticeably absent from that list is anything regarding slavery, torture, and mass murder, which I can guaran damn tee you would be present if that list was about the past. Could you have possibly missed the point any more spectacularly? You’re filling in with the narrative you know instead of reading the argument.

        Privilege isn’t “passed down.” It’s a reality that exists in our society today, which is structured in a racist, sexist, kyriarchal manner. Here’s how I generally explain this: in America today, black skin is heavily correlated with a host of negatives. Much higher incarceration rates, lower test scores, higher poverty, and the list goes on forever. If you’re interested there’s a plethora of literature and tons of statistics out there backing it up. You can only explain this in one of two ways. The first is accepting that African-Americans are discriminated against in virtually every sphere in ways that measurably, massively harm them. The second is to declare that black people are worse, less intelligent, and less capable. [Spoiler alert: the second would make you a giant racist.]

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  • May 3, 2014 at 9:35 pm
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    “Check Your Privilege” is really just a call for sensitivity. Tal, you recieve privilege from being white, and from New Rochelle (7th wealthiest district in New York, 67% White) whether you like that privilege or not. Things you probably take for granted, like both of your parents, the safety of your home are privileges to some people.
    And yes, going back to your “overt racism” sometimes reverse-discrimination occurs and people belittle your accomplishments with the phrase, but more often it is a call to show a little perspective. Your family has struggled obviously, but you don’t wear that struggle everyday in the color of your skin. Without knowing you, just seeing you walk down the hallway,say, there are very few derogatory things people could say to you. You are part of the majority. So check your privilege.

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    • May 20, 2014 at 11:13 am
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      If you truly believe that “check your privilege” is “just a call for sensitivity” you obviously haven’t heard or seen someone use the phrase. My guess is that you’re probably living a sheltered life, so feel free to ask any minority what it means. On second thought, let me save you a trip. It is an extremely racist comment aimed solely at a white (or light-skinned) individual that has quite the opposite (intended) effect of calling for sensitivity. It’s one of those phrases people cringe at for a reason. So, even if you don’t agree with everything in this opinion piece, please don’t fool yourself into thinking that “check your privilege” is a simple phrase that has no negative connotation. Recall that the N-word is just a pronunciation for a southern dialect of the originally used word meaning black. And yet, I’m confident virtually all would agree that it’s racist despite it technically not starting out that way.

      If you happen to be one of the few people that still uses this phrase, please stop. It’s insensitive, hurtful, and very racist, and automatically “labels” you as such. More importantly, it’s incompatible with being accepting of all individuals. Please think before you speak, or in this case, write.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 9:38 pm
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    You are wise beyond your years, my friend…….

    Now, go forth after you graduate and make a difference in the world. Keep that spirit alive by living your life the same way and continue to pass on your “privilege” to your children and grandchildren.

    Thank you for standing up for what you believe in and welcome to the brotherhood.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 9:38 pm
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    I admire you and your family. I read your article, and realize being at such a liberal school as Princeton is you must be having a difficult time, but it seems with the background that you have, you certainly can more than handle anything they can dish out. God bless you and your family.
    You should hold your head up high and be very proud of what your family came through. Although I am not Jewish, I am a born again Christian and have deep respect for God’s Chosen People, and support them in anyway that I can unlike our present president and secretary of state.
    Debbie

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    • May 12, 2014 at 12:52 am
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      some born again Christian the way to Jews treat the Palestinians is worthy of God’s wrath. So keep blindly supporting them and may you wind up in hell with them.

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      • May 27, 2014 at 8:54 am
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        Why are you singling out one side of a two-sided conflict?

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  • May 3, 2014 at 10:05 pm
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    I’ve checked mine too. It’s in excellent working order.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 10:30 pm
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    The world’s smallest violin plays for rich, Princeton-educated white guys everywhere. Sorry Those People hurt your feelings. After all, being told to “check your privilege” is just SO OUTRAGEOUS… lol

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  • May 3, 2014 at 11:23 pm
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    Wow, you should probably also check your grammar. Learn to use “and I” and “and me” correctly, please.
    (Also, your argument is awful and I don’t think you understand what people mean by white/male privilege.)

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    • May 18, 2014 at 12:34 pm
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      Oh look it’s a grammar Nazi.

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  • May 4, 2014 at 12:27 am
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    I don’t think it would be possible for Tal to misunderstand what it means to check your privilege more thoroughly if he tried. He is either purposefully misunderstanding the phrase, or he’s so blinded by partisanship that he’s intellectually useless. Given his age and actions, my money is on him being a closed-minded ideologue who has become wholly disconnected from reality.

    He’ll probably grow up someday. Most of us do. Most of us are embarrassed by the naiveté we had when we were Tal’s age. But most of us weren’t short-sighted and arrogant enough to publish our ignorant screeds as widely as possible.

    Tal: I’m a successful white male, born to a successful white male. I worked hard to get everything I have. But the women and minorities who are alongside me had to work even harder than I did. This is the essential reality that you’ve missed to this date.

    I hope you wake up to this reality someday.

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    • May 12, 2014 at 6:51 pm
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      “He’ll probably grow up someday.” I think that’s probably a 50/50 at best given what I see here.

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  • May 4, 2014 at 12:39 am
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    It’s embarrassing that people can’t accept his privilege and persist to be included within a group of the marginalized. It’s as if there’s one big oppression party and he doesn’t have an invitation. Boo hoo, white tears. How tragic.

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  • May 4, 2014 at 2:13 am
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    Just when I’m thinking I went to the wrong school, I read something like this, learn about this “check your privilege” nonsense, and rejoice in having gone to a school that quashed that kind of ideology before it could garner any power.

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  • May 4, 2014 at 2:54 am
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    Maybe you need to have an immigrant mentality and work ethic to actually capitalize on the opportunities this nation affords us. Is it possible our culture enables US born citizens to live without fervor, zeal and determination. Without the expectation of personal accountability to increase one’s quality of life… Perhaps silver spoon generations reside comfortably on the fact that even our woes, by global comparison, are cushy? The plight, it seems, is to help native born citizens take advantage, not take for granted, the privileges they’ve been bestowed.

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  • May 4, 2014 at 5:34 am
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    The irony is that the author is not considered white by those who actually believe in “white privilege”, and universities such as Princeton in the past spent considerable effort to keep “his kind” out. So of us will always get the short end of the stick. But the only reason to recall such things it to keep them from recurring, not to judge people by the “groups”. People as thoroughly racist and historically ignorant as Shaniqua should be expelled.

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  • May 4, 2014 at 6:47 am
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    Your entitled identity-politics racism has done more to illustrate the author’s points than any of the comments here praising his article.

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  • May 4, 2014 at 8:05 am
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    While the whole notion of checking your privilige is is class baiting (?), the author has no right to appropriate the struggles of his parents, grandparents and great grandparents as his own. Their struggles and successes are on fact the source of his privilege.

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  • May 4, 2014 at 8:33 am
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    I’m an immigrant and am grateful for the opportunities this country has given me. But I wonder if the author really believes in this sentence that he wrote: “It was their privilege to come to a country that grants equal protection under the law to its citizens, that cares not about religion or race, but the content of your character.”

    Yes, the USA is a land of opportunity and better than most countries in offering protection to its citizens under its laws. That is not to say that abuses don’t happen here on a daily basis or that people are judged by the content of their character. Hardly. I wonder if the author, a New Yorker, missed all those news stories about “stop and frisk” incidents in New York City which routinely targeted minorities, or this story (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/08/12/130812fa_fact_stillman) in The New Yorker about money and property being taken from minorities under the civil forfeiture laws?

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  • May 4, 2014 at 9:10 am
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    I think we need people like you to be leading our country.

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  • May 4, 2014 at 9:43 am
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    First, a piece of advice. Even for an opinion piece, do your research. You have misunderstood the phrase “check your privilege” and how it is used in the social justice community. And you have misunderstood the experiences of people of color and other “minorities” in America. Privilege isn’t about the individual. It is about the system and who the system rewards, and who the system discriminates against.

    Second, think about the ethics of what you write. You are using your ability to write and the platform that has been given to you in order to reinforce existent power dynamics and offer moral support and weight to other white cisgender males from middle-class backgrounds. Why? Because you have been put into a position where you feel uncomfortable, because your pride is not flattered by others pointing out the fact that your “success” in society thus far has been due in part to the privileges you accrued simply by being born to the parents you were born to? Now imagine a life where you are discriminated against, inflicted violence against, threatened and feel unsafe, because of who you are. Isn’t that a greater social wrong than your feeling of discomfort, your hurt pride? Please take some classes on racial, gender, and sexual politics in the United States, learn to listen before you speak, and learn to research before you write.

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  • May 4, 2014 at 10:00 am
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    Dear Tal,

    I do think you should “check your privelege” in that you should go and check what the actual definition of privelege is. This article only betrays that you have no idea what the term means or what people are trying to tell you when they say check your privelege.

    They mean, take a moment to think about how the relative comfort of your current life (not you grandfather’s) has had relative to a person of color. Like the fact that even though you study at Princeton, you don’t feel the need to do any academic research on the concept of privelege in order to feel justified denouncing it as a term. And because you are a white man and the world is mostly controlled by white men who also don’t feel the need to look up the actual definition of privilege (they just know it makes them feel hurt when someone says it), this article can be relatively successful, in spite of the fact that it’s underlying premised is based on arguing a point based on the ignorance of the definition of an academic term.

    So congrats on writing an article trying to denounce white privelege, thereby proving it’s very existence with said article.

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  • May 4, 2014 at 11:28 am
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    Maybe when you hear this dreaded phrase ‘check your privilege’ you should simply remind yourself to stay humble. I would also recommend that you get involved in charity work and then get back to us when you’re a senior. You do not and can not deeply understand the experiences of your parents and grandparents because of the life they made for you. You have only heard the stories. Live a life that would make your grandparents proud.

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  • May 4, 2014 at 11:34 am
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    “It was their privilege to come to a country that grants equal protection under the law to its citizens, that cares not about religion or race, but the content of your character.” You should check the reality of your second clause. Otherwise, a succinctly written article. Your privilege is acquired by the sacrifices and hard work of your fore-bearers. And, obviously you have not squandered your “privilege”. Your last thought defining your willingness to “learn” is the hallmark of your essay.

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  • May 4, 2014 at 11:46 am
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    “It was their privilege to come to a country that grants equal protection under the law to its citizens, that cares not about religion or race, but the content of your character”

    You can ignore history if you want to, but it seems silly to ignore history that is so very very recent. I learned during the course of my education at Princeton that all that does is leave big holes in your argument. The civil rights movement was in the 1960s, long after your grandparents arrived in this country I’m sure. You know, that time when African-Americans fought for the right to be educated and have the ability to purchase property to pass down to their kids in the same manner as their fellow citizens.

    So what was that about equal protection under the law?

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  • May 4, 2014 at 12:16 pm
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    Some affluent white males REALLY need to be put in their place when they are too ignorant. Some other white males, however, are unfairly stamped as “probably a racist jerk” before actually proving to be one. From how this author wrote his piece, I can’t be sure which camp he falls into. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

    I believe that there definitely is an issue with “white privilege” in our country. I see that white males definitely have more power, and this is not fair. Also, there are many young people who are unaware of how lucky they have been to have an affluent, educated family. Some young affluent people are woefully ignorant of the lower 50% of the income ladder.

    That being said, a lot of people are too harsh on white people, affluent people, and males. Sometimes a person will look at a white frat boy and assume, “He’s for sure an asshole who doesn’t know anything about a lower-income minority person…What a loser…” These types of judgements against white males are sometimes made before the white person even opens their mouth. I, a white female, admit to having a slight version of that prejudice against white males sometimes. And it’s not fair to them.

    I think that there is not enough information for anyone to judge this too harshly. I personally don’t know the author and I don’t know what types of arguments he gets into, or his other views.

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  • May 4, 2014 at 12:19 pm
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    At the southern end of the campus there used to exist Pardee Field. I remember the pain it cost to pass it every day for four years. You see, the Pardees owned the mines where my ancestors (Great grandparents and grandparents) worked. Safety equipment was too expensive for the coal miners, and my great grandfather was impaled by a rock drill and died.

    My grandfather worked from the time he was eleven as the support of his family (of 8, including his mother). He eventually went to night school and earned his papers as a miner, even though he had the “wrong kind of name” – (i.e., Slavic).

    When he was in his teens, there was a collapse in the shaft in which he was working as a mule driver.
    He bundled two bleeding men onto the back of the car, and slowly made his way up the slope.
    When he finally made the surface, the superintendent of works came up to him and looking over the bodies of the men still bleeding, asked my grandfather a question: “How many mules died?” The Poles, and Hungarians, and Irish dying below were replaceable for nothing. Mules cost money. Was it “slavery”? Perhaps not legally. But the arrogance and cruelty were there in abundance. The fundamental inhumanity of exploiting the “other” was there.

    My father made it to be a mechanic and worked his way up to rebuilding cars and eventually selling the restorations for profit, after serving his time in the Army in World War II, where his privilege got him awarded a Purple Heart. (For those who haven’t read politically incorrect history, it means he got shot in the service of his country.)

    Yes, I am privileged, because my father died when I was ten and my mother worked all she could to support our family, and made sure I had guidance from my grandfather. She never earned enough to be “lower class” but she scraped change to make sure I had the fees for my admissions packages.

    I am privileged because even though were were considered “from poverty” and unworthy of the Ivy League, I was encouraged to take a chance. At Princeton, I found much that seared my soul, but even more that spurred me to learn, to better myself, and to rejoice in the friends I made, and the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest minds available.

    I am privileged that I was not poisoned by anger and solipsism. I learned that “progress” could cost blood, and to earn some of my tuition I lost part of my left hand working in a steel mill during a summer break.

    I am privileged, because I learned that nothing in life is handed to you. I am privileged because I was taught that we are all children of God, (including my “enemies”) and therefore equal but not identical – we are all born different (my education teaches me to say “exempting identical twins”) for a reason – and in my view, that diversity is our strength when used as a gift, not a cudgel. I believe in my bones in giving the “other – the downtrodden, the oppressed – a chance, but what one does with that chance is the true reflection of character.

    I cannot judge souls, but I cannot help judge actions.

    I too, have checked my privilege, and mirable dictu, it seems ok to me..

    Class of 1979

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  • May 4, 2014 at 1:54 pm
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    The thing about privilege is you can be a college-educated, white, straight, male with tooooons of privilege and be 100% incorrect in your logic and your conclusion and folks will still give you a platform to be an idiot. ‘Murica.

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  • May 4, 2014 at 2:05 pm
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    What the author and most of the contributors to this feed fail to realize is that White privilege derives from america, throughout this entire article this kid talks about the struggles of the past generations outside of the united states; however, he doesn’t mention any struggles he faced. Overall I’m pretty disappointed by the article. I feel as though some heterosexual upper/middle class white Christian men can be very obvious to the invisible knapsack that they carry. Id suggest that the author and any who directly agree with him read “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh, its a great article which she describes the daily effects of white privilege and men who are unwilling to acknowledge that they are in fact over-privileged.

    Heres the article, http://amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html

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  • May 4, 2014 at 3:19 pm
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    It is exceedingly clear you have not done your homework as to what white privilege actually is. Your fancy Princeton education is falling you if “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh has not been required reading.

    White privilege is NOT about denying the hard work that you personally do. It is NOT about saying that things are handed to you because you’re white. It’s saying that because you are white, you have certain advantages given to you by the structure of the world. You’ve likely never been accused of a crime you didn’t commit, or followed in department stores, or randomly stopped on the street. You see people who look like you every day, both in the news and in media representations, without having to go to a network/magazine/website that is dedicated to you. You may have personally had to work hard to find a job, but studies have shown (and been replicated countless times) that when two identical resumes are sent it to a job, they are much more likely to call back the candidate with a ‘white’ sounding name versus a ‘black’ sounding name. See here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/black-names-a-resume-burden/ or here: http://wiseli.engr.wisc.edu/docs/BiasBrochure_2ndEd.pdf

    No one is saying you don’t have to work hard to achieve things because you’re a white male. You are also a part of other kinds of minorities that have perhaps disadvantaged you: your Jewish faith, your immigrant family. Everyone has a mix of privileges and disadvantages. Some people have greater privilege than others.

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    • May 19, 2014 at 8:02 am
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      Fitz puts it the clearest and most accurately I’ve seen yet. Just sayin’.

      I’m a 51 yr old “white” male, and I’ve been trying to get my head around white privilege, and I agree with Fitz. It’s about the structure of our society, the false prejudices we develop about people of color and whites alike, and the “privileges” we white guys are erroneously given by default when we walk through the same door as my colored brothers.

      For me, it’s about just being aware of it and not necessarily apologizing. For what? I didn’t create it, but I can help mitigate it.

      “Checking it,” for me, is letting a fellow honky know when he is blind to either having privilege or allowing lack of privilege to go unchecked before him. Like, the check-out-stand example:

      A white person goes through check-out and pays by check. The clerk takes the check without question. The next (black) person in line also pays by check but same clerk (pick a color) asks for two (2) pieces if ID. Why? Maybe ask the clerk if you see it happen!!

      You: Excuse me, is that store policy to ask for ID?
      Clerk: Yes.
      You: Why didn’t you ask me for ID?

      I don’t know for sure, but the answer may be only skin deep.

      Someone’s got to do it if we are to live in a better world…lol!!

      On the other hand, the phrase “Check your privilege” can be overused sometimes, and the young author has a small point: that one should (maybe) be able to complain about whatever (Obama’s liberal/socialist whatever the Tea Party is complaining about today…) without someone yelling “check it.” The little tyke misses the point of white privilege anyway, so… It’s not about some loudmouth right-winger’s rights.

      And yes, my gosh, one would think Privilege would be covered more correctly at Princeton! or would one? Maybe Princeton is where privilege grows.

      TalF definitely misses the point by bring in his family’s “struggles” as having earned his status or whatever…misses it completely. BUT he IS young and immature. Maybe after he goes out into the real world, he will learn about what it really is,

      or ignore it.

      He has the privilege to do either.

      Reply
  • May 4, 2014 at 3:38 pm
    Permalink

    Meta-victims: Victims of people who feel victimized by people who feel victimized.

    I don’t think we should use our parents’ struggles to claim anything. I had it 1000x easier than my parents did. My kids will have it 1000x easier than I did. If my kids ever use any of my parents’ struggles (or mine, though I’ve had zero thanks to my parents) my response will be: don’t whine and get back to work creating value.

    There’s a thing called empathy and if you can’t practice it: I don’t care where you go to school, you’re failing at life. So don’t apologize for anything–no one asked you to. But if you truly think there’s a story to everyone’s success, maybe you should listen to others before you opine lest your opinions be struck down as ignorant and lacking empathy.

    Reply
  • May 4, 2014 at 3:58 pm
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    What about the generations of his people enslaved by Africans? If you’ve read the bible, or a history book you’ll see where Jews where enslaved in Egypt. You know a country in Africa.

    Reply
  • May 10, 2014 at 8:33 pm
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    I cannot speak to every comment that Tal Fortgang has ever made that was followed by “check your privilege.” I do not know every nuance of every one of his personal political views. But I do know that as he points out, no family history is perfectly ‘privileged’. The fact he misses, however, is the fact of the individual. Mr. Fortgang writes “While I haven’t done everything for myself up to this point in my life, someone sacrificed themselves so that I can lead a better life.” That is privilege. Someone sacrificed themselves in order to provide a better life for Mr. Fortgang. Millions of people do not have anyone sacrificing anything for them. They do not have that privilege. Whether or not your predecessors where privileged, the privilege is in having ancestors who worked hard themselves to rise higher, and to allow you to begin higher. Being privileged does not mean that your voice doesn’t count, or that you cannot have worthwhile ideas on certain issues, but it means that you did not have to personally experience life on the bottom, where no one before you gave you any leg up. It means that such an experience is not an ingrained part of you, but rather one that you do, occasionally, have to ‘check’. So congratulations on checking your privilege, but what they really mean when they tell you to ‘check your privilege’, is to check the privilege of others, and to realize that yours is not the only one that matters.

    Reply
  • May 11, 2014 at 12:47 am
    Permalink

    Your ancestor’s suffering is not your own. Your grandfather was indeed lucky to be spared hard labor as a rabbi, though it’s wrong to call luck in extreme misery “privilege.” His intellectual ethic was transmitted generationally–though something was clearly lost–but his suffering was not. Sounds like you had an upper middle-class up-bringing (the most common form of real privilege) that was no less marked by manichaean narratives of victimization that those of other minorities. Exactly the sort of bullshit sob-story that resonates so well with a political culture that’s a whore for sentimental substitutes for thought. The country to which your grandfather escaped was a country in which MLK Jr. had not yet spoken his most eloquent line–which you anachronistically quote–that we ought to judge people by “the content of their character.” And yours, with its shameless denial of structural inequality and structures of inequality, is clearly deficient.

    Reply
  • May 11, 2014 at 5:16 am
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    All this editorial proves is that this kid just doesn’t get it. He can’t get out of his own way when it comes to understanding the way the world works. I don’t think his professors are discounting any of his hard work when they say check your privilege. They are saying , however, that being a white male in America comes with perks. Perks that only a fool would ignore. By claiming that these societal inequities have not impacted his thinking and will not be a potential advantage in life proves just how privileged he is. He can’t even be bothered to acknowledge in his article the the truths that stare him in the face on a daily basis. Sorry buddy you have convinced no one.

    Reply
  • May 11, 2014 at 11:02 pm
    Permalink

    I can’t understand half the people here and see how the other half people miss the point of post. I do not think that Talf disagreed with the facts that racism, ageism, and all other isms exist. His post does not equate his family’s path with that of Hispanic or African Americans. His point is that saying check your privilege should not be applied to all people od any spesific color, race etc. Being privleged does not mean one can not empathize with someone else’s struggle

    Reply
  • May 12, 2014 at 5:02 am
    Permalink

    Love the fact that the whiners here demands you read Invisible Knapsack. Pretty obvious case of freshmen who had a single thought dropped in their empty uncritical heads when they can’t come up with more than “you wrong, read approved PC view”.

    Reply
  • May 12, 2014 at 9:19 am
    Permalink

    @Fitz ‘[White privilege] is saying that because you are white, you have certain advantages given to you by the structure of the world.’

    Well, if we’re in the business of group identity, OK, I accept the world has given me some privilege.

    But then I have given the world: antibiotics, the Theory of Relativity, the steam engine and then the internal combustion engine, steel, aluminium, Scotch whisky, almost every sport apart from kabadi, the MRI, electricity, jet aircraft, space travel, the computer and the internet, the bikini, the telephone, the camera, the television, radio, the printing press, bubblegum, the iPod, Mozart, Turner, Monet, Shakespeare, Marshall amps, the Spinning Jenny, Princeton University (and every other half-decent university in the entire world), and the language in which you idiots type or speak your inanity.

    So it sounds like a pretty fair deal to me.

    Reply
  • May 12, 2014 at 9:24 am
    Permalink

    It’s a nice essay but clearly they do not realize you are not white – you should make that clear to them. You are a tribal person, just like they are.

    Reply
  • May 12, 2014 at 6:46 pm
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    This is a student publication of Princeton University? And this poorly conceived, poorly written tripe was approved for publication?? Fortgang (and the editors) would have done well to actually research the meaning of “privilege” before spewing forth such an embarrassing example of just how real is the phenomenon he feebly attempts to debunk.

    Fortgang’s bio reads “He plans to major in either History or Politics.” I’m predicting Politics, as he’s already mastered the political art of false correlation.

    Reply
  • May 12, 2014 at 7:46 pm
    Permalink

    Guilty. We live in a society of white male privilege. It is a society largely created by white males. They created the whole concept of universities, founded Princeton. White males invented most of the computers we type on. They composed the laws that allow us the free speech we observe to vent our frustrations against “their” privilege. Heck, they even created the language rules we use to vent.

    Over the course of several centuries, white males have built the freest, most tolerant, and wealthiest societies humankind has ever seen. It wasn’t easy, but they did better than all other societies on earth in that sense. The barbarism on display in much of the world stands in stark contrast to the relative ease modern Westerners enjoy thanks to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of white males.

    Another idea invented by the white males of Western thought is that the individual is responsible for themselves. We have individual rights “endowed by our Creator”. As individuals, we are free to pursue our own happiness. Failing in that, we can individually file bankruptcy and start afresh.

    As Westerners, the idea of collective guilt is kind of silly when contrasted to our view of individual responsibility. White American males of today are no more responsible for New World slavery than Nigerian males.

    #whitemaleprivilege is therefore synonymous with #firstworldproblems. Sorry to all the repressed “others” having to live in the best place on earth at the best time in human existence. If you want, go thank a white male. He’ll probably look at you pretty strange because he won’t take credit of feel guilt for the actions of his forebears. He’s probably to busy creating a better tomorrow anyway.

    Reply
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  • May 16, 2014 at 3:33 pm
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    The ONLY privilidges are these: being a male; money/ male with money.
    Everyone else is privileged within their ethnic/racial/social group equally.
    Everything else is bias. And perhaps bias is much stronger political/psychological/sociological weapon, then privilege ever was, or will be.

    Reply
  • May 16, 2014 at 3:48 pm
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    One of the issues I’ve found with discussions around privilege and the concept of “check your privilege” is the word privilege is used to shut down a conversation or a certain perspective, as opposed to using the recognition of privilege as a starting point for a larger conversation. We all have privilege to some degree. The lesson should be how we learn to honor our privilege. Instead, when privilege is used as a pejorative, we focus our energy on either denying we have privilege or making excuses for it.

    Reply
  • May 16, 2014 at 5:13 pm
    Permalink

    White male privilege is purely derived from the fact that white men on average have superior intellects and are more innovative. If minorities and women were equals, then how were we so easily able to subjugate them for so long? Why is it they only gain freedoms when we decide to give it to them? All humans are animals, and the animal kingdom is governed by the principal “Might is Right”. The jaguar doesn’t apologize to the deer for tearing it’s throat out and eating it’s flesh. Do these soft college brats really think that if Africans were the more successful ethnic group that they wouldn’t have acted in the exact same way as the Europeans did? The strong rule the weak, the intelligent rule the strong. That is the way things always have been, and always will be.

    Reply
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  • May 16, 2014 at 6:59 pm
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    Am I privileged?
    I am the first born child of a UPS driver and a stay at home mother. Both have college degrees. Both are fluent in English, both are liberal, both are white, both are citizens of the United States of America. They can pay for me to attend college, they can afford for me to fence–a sport of the privileged. My mother came from a broken household, my Grandfather left the family when she was twelve. My father moved from North Dakota to California when he was 17 years old– the age I am today. Is privilege the ability to write these words on a computer while I sit at home on a Friday night in a relatively safe neighborhood in a house that my parents own the deed for?
    Yes. I am privileged.
    Did my ancestors have troubles?
    I do not know.
    Do I have troubles?
    Yes.
    Am I a member of this world?
    Yes.
    Do I use my privilege to create privilege within others?
    No.
    Here’s what I used to think weren’t privileges:
    -Public School
    -Tap water
    -A Job
    -A nightly meal
    -Living in a house
    -Etc.
    Take everything that you take for granted and realize that there are people that do not have those things. They may be trivial things like owning a book but I can guarantee you that there is someone in the world who has not owned a book.
    Am I happy to be Privileged?
    Yes.
    Is it something I take for granted?
    Yes.
    Am I proud of it?
    Absolutely not.

    I am white. I am male. I am heterosexual. I am middle class. I am privileged.
    This does not create in me a stereotype. I know friends who are mixed, homosexual, a woman, and very close to the poverty line. They are privileged.
    There is an epidemic in America, and arguably in the western world, that things that we have are earned. I am struggling with that mindset. Can we say that a son who is related to a very affluent father has earned the money that his father may give him? What has the son done in his life?
    I know someone who was accepted to the very school that “Checking privilege” became a hot problem. This person was accepted to this university and did not complete a Pre-Calculus class. If one follows the idea that those who are placed in extraordinary situations deserve said honor, why was this individual admitted to this world of prestige? I am better at math than he is. Why did he score higher on the standardised tests than I did?
    It is a privilege to enter Princeton University.
    I will not have my parents be an excuse to be offensive and demeaning. I am me.
    This country, the one it is a privilege to be a part of, creates a world where all men are equal. There are no titles. There is no rank. In the world of Europe and Asia and Africa where there are Magnates, the Peerage, and the Sovereigns, the people are forgotten. The theory behind America is that we are for the people. We are the people. We are all equal.
    We’ve forgotten that.
    Privilege is rampant in our society and in our world.
    Privilege is not white, it’s not heterosexual, but it also isn’t something to be forgotten.
    We are privileged. Check it.

    Reply
  • May 17, 2014 at 12:47 pm
    Permalink

    On the second of May
    2014, Time magazine published an article by a young upstart student
    attending Princeton University by the name of Tal Fortgang, in which
    he attempts to defend the crushing disparity between the
    socioeconomic classes with a well-written (albeit heavily corrupted)
    diatribe against disadvantaged minorities. The reason to address such
    infantile thought is that it remains mostly a regurgitation of the
    entire right-wing of political magniloquence that sops upon our
    nation with devastating consequence. Reactions to the article were a
    competent internal representation of the difference in core values
    held in esteem by the citizens of our country.

    On one metaphorical hand – we have the affluent,
    which are allowed every buffer against financial turmoil conceivable,
    even in the face of economic downturn, and on the other, lay the
    majority of our populace, working inexhaustibly without economic
    haven and the brunt of financial responsibility. This is, as Mr.
    Fortgang himself would agree, not a question of race, but of two
    separate financial realms of existence within a climate in which, the
    overlapping of the two is rapidly becoming extinct. Despite overall
    tone, this is not to diminish the underpinnings by which the likes of
    Ayn Rand inspired an entire generation of young conservatives to
    simply “do something”, in short, that is to build up an empire
    from mere grit and iron determination alone, which is to be commended
    even from the most progressive of ideologies. Heretofore it is that
    very same notion which has kept the poor working without end to fuel
    our financial system, decade upon decade in pursuit of what it most
    likely a statistical improbability; “The American Dream”.

    Time and again it has become exponentially irrefutable that
    almost every economic factor of levy is weighted against the
    working class regardless of ethnicity. Rises in taxation have trended
    towards food and energy, property and so-called “sin”
    taxes, undeniably target those who make the least income and are left
    to bare arguably substandard systems.

    It becomes apparent that
    Fortgang’s ranting is the result of a sheer refusal to evaluate the
    even the most basic research regarding the financial structure of a
    country mired by a climate which could be taken straight from a page
    in the communist manifesto (ie. According to Oxfam – the eighty
    five wealthiest people on the planet hold more wealth than three
    billion of the world’s poorest and in the United States eight five
    percent of Americans own about seven percent of all available
    wealth). Further, it can be stated that globalization itself is not
    merely the result of the evolution of communicative technologies, but
    moreover, it lay in the corporate interest of industrial bodies
    seeking to strip out resources and labor from the third world with
    too little infrastructure to industrialize themselves.

    Fortgang’s folly (as it should herein be known) is to presume
    that merely being born into wealth is a privilege exempted from
    the human condition. If those with fortune have experienced suffering
    in any degree (which is plausibly the very nature of existence itself),
    it frees them from the obligations associated with relation to humanity.
    Since the beginning of our species there have been those favored to assets
    and those disproportionately affected by its allocation, with those
    advantaged holding almost untrammeled control over those without
    equal access – so it is a given, that the privileged few are to
    feel made vulnerable by any encroachment upon the status quo and for
    generations, have held that it is nothing short of divine right by
    which they are destined to dangle the proverbial carrot over the
    bloating bellies of the masses, and within this framework they will
    continue to craft and back the passage of favorable legislation,
    exploit faulted laws and lay siege to the taxpayer’s coin purse to
    solidify that privilege – yet to fend for such an already
    invulnerable position, is to tacitly acknowledge its interminable
    flaws. To ridicule the predicament of the very laborers upon whose
    backs they sit, certainly make for a trembling throne.

    Reply
    • August 11, 2017 at 3:53 pm
      Permalink

      Talk about ranting – You don’t even consider any of Fortang’s points or his background, but just seem to regurgitate what some very liberally lopsided professor stuffed down your throat. Gawd.

      Reply
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  • May 17, 2014 at 5:55 pm
    Permalink

    Your very rage about the issue is from your totalized previlege.

    Reply
  • May 17, 2014 at 7:12 pm
    Permalink

    “I have checked my privilege. And I apologize for nothing.” Tal Fortgang

    I do not want you to apologize for anything. I merely want us all to admit that if we are white in America we start with an advantage. During World War II in America no Jews were put in internment camps Tal. Ask anyone born to parents of Japanese ancestry what their relatives suffered.

    Tal, you say that because your family suffered at the hands of the Nazis, you are not a person of white privilege in America. Sorry, but you can not escape your privilege hiding behind your family misfortunes.

    I do not hide behind my disability to explain the problems I face in my adult life. And I do not avoid the truth that because I was born to white parents I received better treatment for my condition. As well as the best education at an all white suburban Boston school system.

    Reply
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  • May 18, 2014 at 12:42 pm
    Permalink

    Isn’t it so that people who tell others to check their privilege are typically white and far more privileged than most whites?

    Reply
  • May 18, 2014 at 4:50 pm
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    Very intriguing article and I do see your point.

    In regards to “privilege”, I’m gonna play the genocide card – which means that you all have more privilege then me. My ancestors were brutally subjected to genocide and with a full beard I am likely to get searched in every airport with the suspicion that I am a terrorist from the Middle East.

    This concept of “check your privilege” is nonsense. People don’t fit into these hastily assembled categorizations, and to anyone who tells me to check my privilege, I will simply say, “Genocide. Please check your own.” .

    Reply
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  • May 19, 2014 at 11:29 am
    Permalink

    I appreciate this freshman’s perspective and the well written article however I don’t believe this young man fully understands the difference among privilege, respect and in-experience. His family’s story is one to be admired. As a young woman born in the Middle East to a family who escaped a brutal war, I also arrived in the United States at the age of 6 with two brothers and a non-English speaking, single mother. After attended CUNY-Brooklyn (the sister school of the author’s father’s alma mater – City College) I too earned a spot at a top graduate school. The hard work that it has taken to earn this achievement, as well as the achievement of the author’s family, deserves respect – not privilege.

    The privilege the author discuss comes in multiple forms. There’s the privilege of knowledge, property, race and gender – all of which he seems to have in abundance. He speaks of his grandfather (and not grandmother) starting a business that initiated his privilege and yet he doesn’t view this opportunity as potentially being an unearned privilege bestowed upon his grandfather by the society of that era. He doesn’t ask himself, how much easier was it for his grandfather to gain ownership of a business then it would have been for an African-American, a non white or a woman prior to Civil Rights? He discusses education beginning in the home and again mentions a male, his father, teaching him the Hebrew alphabet. The author doesn’t discuss the systematic way the educational system prevented women and non-whites from attaining an education in their native language of English and when it became an equal right, disproportionately gave white males most, if not the best resources.

    He mentions a father dying defending U.S. freedom but doesn’t mention women who enlisted in the Navy, Marine and Air force Reserve during WWII, nor military nurses (who were all women at that time) or the Tuskegee airmen whose contributions and deaths often go unnoticed. These military service men and women never received their earned privilege from defending their country, the world and Jews against Nazi Germany.

    The author claims his “appearance certainly doesn’t tell a whole story” yet it tells the one that speaks the loudest – that he is a white male. Yes he is Jewish, but who really needs to know that? The question then becomes, is what he believes to be a sacrifice, made by his male family members, actually an acceptance of an inheritance bestowed upon them from the privilege of being white men?

    The privilege the school is asking the author to check isn’t one that comes from having the option to spend the money you earn. It’s the privilege that comes from unconsciously oppressing someone because of the opportunities inherited from being white or a white male and therefore being in-experienced in using interpersonal communicative skills with people who do not share your background. This unconscious privilege helps to perpetuate racial and gender injustices on a social level.

    Peggy McIntosh, the scholar who popularized white privilege and male privilege said it best: “In order to understand the way privilege works, you have to be able to see patterns and systems in social life, but you also have to care about individual experiences [..] When Tal Fortgang was told, “Check your privilege”—which is a flip, get-with-it kind of statement—it infuriated him, because he didn’t want to see himself systematically.”

    Reply
  • May 19, 2014 at 12:05 pm
    Permalink

    I appreciate this freshman’s perspective and the well written article however I don’t believe this young man fully understands the difference among privilege, respect and in-experience. His family’s story is one to be admired. As a young woman born in the Middle East to a family who escaped a brutal war, I also arrived in the United States at the age of 6 with two brothers and a non-English speaking, single mother. After attended CUNY-Brooklyn (the sister school of the author’s father’s alma mater – City College) I too earned a spot at a top graduate school. The hardwork that it has taken to earn this achievement, as well as the achievement of the author’s family, deserves respect – not privilege.

    The privilege the author discuss comes in multiple forms. There’s the privilege of knowledge, property, race and gender – all of which he seems to have in abundance. He speaks of his grandfather (and not grandmother) starting a business that initiated his privilege and yet he doesn’t view this opportunity as potentially being an unearned privilege bestowed upon his grandfather by the society of that era. He doesn’t ask himself, how much easier was it for his grandfather to gain ownership of a business then it would have been for an African-American, a non white or a woman prior to Civil Rights? He discusses education beginning in the home and again mentions a male, his father, teaching him the Hebrew alphabet. The author doesn’t discuss the systematic way the educational system prevented women and non-whites from attaining an education in their native language of English and when it became an equal right, disproportionately gave white males most, if not the best resources.

    He mentions a father dying defending U.S. freedom but doesn’t mention women who enlisted in the Navy, Marine and Air force Reserve during WWII, nor military nurses (who were all women at that time) or the Tuskegee airmen whose contributions and deaths often go unnoticed. These military service men and women never received their earned privilege from defending their country, the world and Jews against Nazi Germany.

    The author claims his “appearance certainly doesn’t tell a whole story” yet it tells the one that speaks the loudest – that he is a white male. Yes he is Jewish, but who really needs to know that? The question then becomes, is what he believes to be a sacrifice, made by his male family members, actually an acceptance of an inheritance bestowed upon them from the privilege of being white men?

    The privilege the school is asking the author to check isn’t one that comes from having the option to spend the money you earn. It’s the privilege that comes from unconsciously oppressing someone because of the opportunities inherited from being white or a white male and therefore being in-experienced in using interpersonal communicative skills with people who do not share your background. This unconscious privilege helps to perpetuate racial and gender injustices on a social level.

    Peggy McIntosh, the scholar who popularized white privilege and male privilege said it best: “In order to understand the way privilege works, you have to be able to see patterns and systems in social life, but you also have to care about individual experiences [..] When Tal Fortgang was told, “Check your privilege”—which is a flip, get-with-it kind of statement—it infuriated him, because he didn’t want to see himself systematically.”

    Reply
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  • May 22, 2014 at 3:17 pm
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    The funniest part isn’t that some privileged douche is whining about being privileged, and then inserts a reminder IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH that white people rule the world.

    No, the funniest part is the statement “But I do condemn them for diminishing everything I have personally accomplished, all the hard work I have done in my life…” coming from a college freshman.

    Reply
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  • May 23, 2014 at 5:57 pm
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    If you want to be diminished you will be diminished. You have no self esteem? No pride, you want but you wont work? The hell with you. No one gives you squat, you earn it. Quit your damn whining and grow up. The color of a mans skin is not the color of his soul okay? So quit whining or blacken your skin or whiten it I don’t care which but quit your damn whining and get off your ass and go to work. Be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem! We have better things to do than listen to you complain. Do you understand? Do you Capisce? Your are repressed? Get the hell over it already!

    Reply
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  • May 25, 2014 at 6:42 am
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    It took me a few days to figure out why this phrase ”check your privilege” was so abhorrent to me but I think I have it. The problem with the phrase is that it places people in groups not because of what they say or do but because of what race and gender they happen to be. It stops the debate before a concept is introduced, an argument is advanced, before any evidence is presented. It is the antithesis of what its users profess to be trying to eliminate in society. There is no question that privilege exists and there are many legacy admits and ”senators’ sons” at all of the elite schools (with two exceptions; see below). Yes, all of the top schools have their Chelsea Clintons (Stanford). Its funny, during four years at M.I.T. , I never heard this phrase once. I can’t imagine hearing it at Caltech either. Think about why… The exercise will do you good no matter which side of the argument you are on…

    Reply
  • May 25, 2014 at 5:54 pm
    Permalink

    What you don’t get is the privilege your grandfather got by receiving reward for his hard work as a human being, which millions of black in America never got….and that is what privilege means when someone tells you “check your privilege”.
    And by the way, the year is 2014 and still blacks with Ivy League degrees still struggle to get jobs, so don’t go all about having an education or wanting to work! http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/5/22/black-grads-doubleunemployment.html
    The issues about inequality are more complex and without a broader perspective, you’ll never get it!

    Reply
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  • May 29, 2014 at 1:40 pm
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    See Vijay Iyer’s keynote to Yale Asian American alumni on the “complicity with excess” — that’s how to properly check one’s privilege, whether it was earned through hard work, randomly by birth, or some other means:

    “What I humbly ask of you, and of myself, is that we constantly interrogate our own complicity with excess, that we always remain vigilant to notions of community that might, perhaps against our best intentions, sometimes, embrace a system of domination at the expense of others.”

    Reply
  • June 2, 2014 at 4:34 pm
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    You note that your grandparents were oppressed in Europe and were saved by America, but the grandparents of African Americans were oppressed IN AMERICA!

    Reply

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