A few days ago in class, we watched a video where Bill O’Reilly loudly and vehemently denied the existence of white privilege on the Daily Show. (If you feel like subjecting yourself to that, click here.)
First, a little background: White privilege describes the benefits that white people receive that those of color do not, and is typically only applicable in the places where white people are the majority. (Want examples? Click here.) Bill O’Reilly is a 65-year-old white Republican who yells a lot.
I’ll say this now before I get too far into the article, but yes, I am white. Yes, I realize that we have privileges that people of color do not.
Maybe white privilege did exist once, O’Reilly said, but the time of slavery and Jim Crow laws are long over. Yeah, okay, the Jim Crow laws were overturned, but racism wasn’t, and that is a driving factor in what keeps white privilege going. If racism didn’t exist, neither could white privilege, because no one race would have benefits over the other.
Unfortunately, O’Reilly doesn’t seem to grasp that racism didn’t just magically disappear when slavery ended, or when the U.S. outlawed segregation. Racism is still alive and well, no matter what the laws do or do not say.
White people can’t decide if they benefit from white privilege because often we are blind to the advantages we may receive.
So here is the question: why can’t O’Reilly get it through his smug, balding head that because he is a white man, he is on the receiving end of so many advantages? That, because he is white, he doesn’t have to face half the things that people of color do on a daily basis?
For example, O’Reilly doesn’t have to worry about the fact that 1 in 3 black men are expected to be incarcerated at least one in their lifetime. I can say with certainty that if he were black he would be worrying about this. Or he could be worrying something else from the laundry list of things people of color have to deal with, like cultural appropriation, negative/harmful stereotypes, racist jokes, the fact that the KKK is still alive and brooding, etc.
But no. O’Reilly is just painfully aware of the racial benefits he reaped all throughout his life. Throughout the interview, he was in constant denial of the existence of white privilege.
An important part of being white is realizing that, yes, life is often easier because of your skin color, and then listening to and amplifying the voices of other races.
Hopefully some white person (or any person) reads this and realizes that white privilege is a very real thing, or this rant about Bill O’Reilly was for naught.