I really don’t like most discussions of white privilege because most of it seems aimed at making people feel guilty about factors beyond their control that they shouldn’t waste time feeling guilty about. This is done to serve agendas that often have nothing to do with fixing the problems that are allegedly addressed. Also, it is used to create division between people who ought to have common cause.
What I mean by that last sentence is that people of similar economic means would normally be considered belonging to the same affinity group. Someone who makes similar income to you will understand many of your struggles and challenges. A person far wealthier or far more impoverished than you won’t have that understanding. So naturally, middle-class, working-class, and lower-class people should have shared interests. But then white privilege is invoked to divide people up according to skin pigmentation.
It is so stupid! A white person working at McDonald’s or Walmart is no more privileged than his black co-workers. The fact that there are more rich white people than black people is somehow twisted into an excuse to alienate middle-class citizens against one another. It is a devastating strategy for divide and conquer that in no way benefits anyone in the white collar or blue collar groups.
But sometimes it does come to mind. Like, for instance, why the social worker’s case was closed on this woman while Debra Harrell is still facing jail. Some might look at the two cases and say that Harrell’s “neglect” was more severe, but I think the discrepancy in how they were treated can’t be explained on those grounds. Also, Harrell’s daughter was an older child so she had earned more responsibility. Plainly, neither one of the mothers should have been harassed by law enforcement and the child abuse industry.
The more recent case involves an Austin, Texas, woman allowing her six-year-old son to play outside down her street within sight of her front door. A neighbor woman “returned” the child against his will as if this was a problem. Then she called the police. Social services showed up and interrogated the child about all sorts of things including sexual perversions with adults. Because that’s how we protect children, by bringing them new ideas from strangers that would never have otherwise entered their heads.
Lenore Skenazy of Free Range Kids concludes the story at the Reason.com blog:
It was only last week, about a month after it all began, that the case was officially closed. That’s when Roy felt safe enough to write about it. But safe is a relative term. In her last conversation with the CPS investigator, who actually seemed to be on her side, Roy asked, “What do I do now?”
Replied the investigator, “You just don’t let them play outside.”
There you have it. You are free to raise your children as you like, except if you want to actually give them a childhood. Fail to incarcerate your child and you could face incarceration yourself.
All too true. But why was the case closed? Due to lack of evidence? That is always a relative term. The most likely possibility is that they saw someone who was educated, literate, capable of hiring a lawyer, and knowledgeable that she needed one. They decided to move on rather than try to make a case.
Debra Harrell, as I noted, was manipulated into deference and compliance. As a minimum wage worker she had no such resources and the authorities knew it.
I asked if this was white privilege in action. I think the economics are the essential feature, not the race. A white single mother who worked for minimum wage could easily receive the same treatment as Harrell, while a wealthier, savvier African American mother might also have gotten her case closed. We won’t know for sure to what extent people used race as a means for guessing the economic status of their potential victims.
If race is a factor, it is because we have created areas where individuals have unaccountable power. Such power allows them to get away with acting on racial stereotypes and no one can prove it.