White Privilege, White Dominance, White Aversive Racism, White Loss
By Jorge D. H. Prósperi, 2019
The very title of this essay will instantaneously stop some individuals from reading on. It will cause serious pause to racists and bigots. The title would literally be the “show stopper” at White Nationalist Rallies among the throngs gathered in conformational denial of White Privilege, White Dominance, White Aversive Racism and White Loss. Phew, that’s a lot of white washing!
So why even mention language that slams on the brakes of discourse – even the slightest chance of introspection? Why create emotional discomfort, irritation, controversy and shutdown? The reason is because from July the 5th through July the 3rd, we tend to forget that the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, Inalienable Rights, Democracy, Justice, Rule of Law, Equity and Citizenship are dynamic complex concepts requiring ongoing critical analysis as to their authentication, affirmation, amplification and application. They are not absolute principles that have been realized. They are all “works in progress.” That is the simple answer.
A more fundamental reason is because of the historical parallel of the unwritten paradox of Equal but Separate that the founding English white immigrants established and left for future generations to decipher and make true. The paradox, although not written, was evident. The privileges and entitlements would be inalienable for Some but not Others. No need to be History majors to understand that a line was drawn delineating inalienable differences. There was a wink-wink and nudge-nudge by white men postulating that, “all men are created equal.”
The meaning of the collective noun “men” meant literally white men – white land owners who had accrued White power, White control, White privileges, White entitlements, White status – a collective antithesis to women, indentured servants, native people, immigrants and slaves… so much for inalienability – equality – inclusivity.
White men in power had set the stage and ground rules. The journey and struggle for non- privileged and non-entitled members of the paradox would last centuries and be denied at every step. Nevertheless, advocacy to authenticate, amplify and keep the promise and hope alive was relentless against ongoing systematic institutional violence on humanity (political obstruction, oppression, degradation, lynchings, bombings, segregation, incarcerations, humiliations). Lest we forget the devastation of the Civil War fought to keep the paradox alive – its flag still flies in some states – in some hearts. Science (Eugenics) would be used to justify superiority and inferiority. It was an ongoing cataclysmic assault on humanity.
No, not a comfortable discussion to be had at family get-togethers or at water coolers. For some, the terms White Privilege, White Dominance, White Aversive Racism and White Loss may be relatively new, perhaps heard on the news or mentioned in passing. The terms tend to glance off white people given society’s white teflon coatings. But upon hearing these terms in mixed company, the white elephant enters, sits in the middle creating discomfort, uneasiness, nervousness – especially if people of color happen to be present.
But the discourse tends to differ if the discussion is only among white people. In this circle denials, defenses, deflections and excuses tend to surface more candidly, with confidence and vigor. The same tends to occur when discussions on gender, feminism, rape, sexual assault and domestic violence take place only among women compared to when men navigate such uncharted waters. The tone and temper tend to change with each group.
So what is this White Privilege, White Dominance, White Aversive Racism and White Loss? At this point we could put our scholar, researcher, critical theorist hats on and produce countless knowledge bases, definitions and findings of the terms. There is no shortage of scholarly works on the subjects. But let’s keep it as simply – complex as possible, as if we were all present at the table of discourse enjoying what began as a friendly family gathering at a plush restaurant or at a barbecue with friends and colleagues.
A positive start is to unequivocally clarify that any discussion of such terms does not mean that anyone is being judged, blamed, shamed or accused of -isms and phobias related to the terms. In other words, to discuss the nature of an insidious terminal disease does not mean that anyone discussing its pathology is responsible for its immediate causes, its history or side effects. A second positive step is to candidly admit and agree that the terms deserve clarification and discourse in 2019 given the divisiveness, fear, hate and confusion regarding race.
END OF PART I – Go to Part II