White privilege is an often debated term. People argue about it without knowing what it means. So, as I begin to examine white privilege, I will define what I mean by it. (Note: I am white)
I often hear from white people like myself that they have suffered some unfair things, like being poor, and some not-white person, often Barack Obama, was able to become really important, thus white privilege does not exist. The problem with this is that these are individual cases. No one is denying the reality of struggles that affect certain white people. Poverty strikes people of all races. The meaning of white privilege is not that all white people have no problems at all and that non-white people have nothing. All white privilege is that a white person gets certain advantages from being white. This advantage can be minimized or erased by some other advantage that a non-white person has, such as being wealthy.
Imagine a job opening. This job has two people that want it. These people have the same intelligence, the same age, the same gender, and the same sexual orientation (This is necessary to remove other privileges). One of the applicants is African-American. He has a P.H.D. in the field since his parents were able to pay for him to go to a university. The other one is white. He has no degree since his parents live in poverty. In this case, the job would go to the African-American man. White privilege is obscured in this situation. Now, let us imagine the white applicant’s parent right before he graduated from high school won enough money to put them in a financial equivalency. The white applicant was able to go the same university as the African-American applicant and was able to get the same degree. Now, when they both apply for the same job, what is likely to happen. The white man is likely to get it. Why? His white privilege gave the employers the assumption that he is more competent for the job even though that he is not. The assumptions made about white people versus African-American people would make a huge difference in the second situation, where the vast economic privilege overcame that in this first.
White privilege is definitely real. Unfortunately, it is unclear what the full extent of this privilege is. There are times where it seems that economic inequality trumps racial inequality, but it also seems that racial inequality, along with other social inequalities, drive the economic inequality. My thought on this topic is that it is probably pointless to try and completely separate these problems. I do not believe it is possible to attack one and leave the other. I believe that attacking both inequalities simultaneously, maybe not the same attacks but coordinated ones, is the best strategy to defeat these evils.