>If you are a white male remember all the privilege you have enjoyed since birth just because you were born that way. It is your responsibility to change the industry and its bias towards more inclusion.
I'm from an Eastern Europe and my family never was rich, I had to put in a tremendous effort to even get into the industry. Assuming I got an easy ride simply because I'm white is a pretty racist statement and I find myself surprised that no one is calling out the author on it.
>It is your duty to send the elevator down.
No, it's not. Just like women don't have any duty to ensure that there's an arbitrary number of men working as models and just like black NBA players have no obligation to ensure that there's enough white guys on the team I have no obligation to worry about some arbitrary quotas.
I'm from an Eastern Europe and my family never was
rich, I had to put in a tremendous effort to even get
into the industry. Assuming I got an easy ride simply
because I'm white is a pretty racist statement
But you know what? This just isn't working.
We need better language.
I'm a firm believer in the existence of this thing we currently call "white privilege." I understand the meaning and intent of this concept and it's 100% correct; it's absolutely vital that we understand that basic rights we take for granted (for example, walking into a store and not being treated as a potential thief, or having prospective interviewers assume we're professional/literate/presentable) are actually privileges that many people or color don't have.
But if the people we're trying to reach hear the term "white privilege" and immediately misunderstand the term in such spectacular ways... you know what? We're doing it wrong.
Who could have guessed that identifying and singling out a particular race for correction and self-abasement would entail some push-back? 
> This just isn't working.
Actually, I think it is working as intended. A thriving industry has arisen around the elimination of "white privilege". The term has served that industry well as marketing.
> I'm a firm believer in the existence of this thing we currently call "white privilege."
Are you a firm believer of "Han privilege" in China? Are you a firm believer of "Japanese privilege" in Japan? Are you a firm believer in "Jewish privilege" in Israel? If so, that might assist you in your search for better language.
> basic rights we take for granted
We have hundreds of years of high-quality race-neutral rights language to pick from. Why was that language eschewed?
 I'm trying to cut down on snark in my diet but failed. Mea culpa.
We have hundreds of years of high-quality race-neutral rights language to pick from. Why was that language eschewed?
Who could have guessed that identifying and singling out a particular race for correction and self-abasement would entail some push-back?
Why does it make you feel that way?
Are you a firm believer of "Han privilege" in China? Are you a firm believer of "Japanese privilege" in Japan? Are you a firm believer in "Jewish privilege" in Israel?
If your understanding of "white privilege" is that it's a belief that white people magically have it easy all of the time, everywhere on planet Earth, I'm happy to let you know that literally nobody is saying that.
If your point is that we should be simply talking about "privilege" and not "white privilege" or other privilege, I understand the sentiment. I think that would be a naive and ineffective approach because on any practical level we can't discuss privilege without also discussing the source of that privilege.
You're being parochial. This is an international forum. Do "we" have equality in Israel? In China? In Saudi Arabia?
> I don't feel the need to push back.
You've stated that the phrase "white privilege" is resulting in "spectacular" misunderstanding. I'm agreeing that it is a fatally fraught phrase. I wish you luck in replacing it (if that's what you meant by "we need better language").
> Why does it make you feel that way?
Signaling that _you_ are thinking while _they_ are emoting is a bad-faith tell.
> I think that would be a naive and ineffective approach [simply talking about "privilege" and not "white privilege" or other privilege]
So where does that leave your search for better language?
You're being parochial. This is an international forum. Do "we" have equality in Israel? In China? In Saudi Arabia?
I'm not sure if English is your native language but you should understand that "we" does not necessarily mean "every human." It can have different meanings depending on context.
For example, if I say "My family enjoys dinner together. Tonight, we enjoyed spaghetti" then in this case it's clear from context that "we" means "my family."
Similar, if I say "In America [...] we" then it is also very clear that I'm talking about America.
I hope this makes your future encounters with English more comprehendable for you.
Signaling that _you_ are thinking while _they_ are emoting is a bad-faith tell.
I wish you luck in replacing it
Did you have anything constructive to say here? I don't see anything of the sort, just a bunch of misguided attempts at pedantry that don't hold any water whatsoever.
I mean, I get it: you think that talking about particular kinds of privilege is bad. I'm not going to intentionally misstate what you said, or be ineffectively pedantic, because that's neither clever nor helpful.
So where does that leave your search for better language?
So the term seems to call out white people for stealing stuff they aren't entitled to. Instead of just having what everybody should have.
I detest the term; I bridle every time I hear it. And annoying the hell out of the people apparently in power, people able to do something about the problem, is a very crappy start to a conversation about race.
Good. Maybe it's a start of a conversation. What white people have SHOULD not be an undeserved advantage, but that's not the reality we live in.
Imagine being black with a black sounding name, or latino with a latino sounding name, and having to deal with people making fun of the name you didn't choose while growing up, and then having to deal with the consequences of discrimination when it comes to just getting your foot in the door.
You only have to deal with the annoyance when you hear the term. Other races and ethnicities don't get that luxury. Seems to me that the term is perfectly, and ironically, apt.
Hey, I'm not some fragile guy that can't hear about what inequalities are present in society. But I may listen only so far and just say "screw you" and walk away. So no dialog occurs. How is that helping?
"Undeserving" is not part of any definition of privilege I've ever seen, not even the dictionary definition. I think that's just your personal bias against a meaning that isn't the same that others are intending.
A special advantage, immunity, permission, right, or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual, class, or caste. See Synonyms at right.
Such an advantage, immunity, or right held as a prerogative of status or rank, and exercised to the exclusion or detriment of others
It's an uncomfortable term, and to be honest, confronting your privileges should be uncomfortable. Darn right it's not fun to look at your life situation and think: "Well, I truly worked my ass off and tried to treat everybody well. But, in addition to my merits and hard work, what other things did I benefit from?"
No, 'we' don't need that. You want better language so that you can better advocate for your pet cause. There is a big difference between need and want, and also between "everyone" and "this interest group that I identify with".
In that context, typing "we need better language" implies identification with the whole audience, i.e. all readers. 'We' does not mean 'my group of political activists' when used in that way.
Hence why the correction is important. Especially given that he was advocating for the redefinition of language in service of a political ideology. If you are going to suggest that 'we need' to clarify and standardize the words we use to refer to things, then you should probably be extremely precise with your own language, no? Otherwise you are just being a patronizing e-tyrant.
"I don't agree with this concept, so I want it to have an ineffective or misleading name!"
If icepick lobotomies were called "happy sunshine treatments," or if breaking into peoples' homes and killing their pets was called "saying hello to your neighbors" I'm sure we could agree that those are wildly misleading terms and that we should find more accurate ones, even if we didn't agree with those practices.
How about you just call it "privilege" and leave it at that? This skin color labelling is pointless in the context of real privilege.
A "woman of color" who grew up with servants in her birth country, went to private schools, top colleges, etc has a better chance at the C-suite than a Eastern European "white guy" who grew up poor and went to state schools etc.
It's unfair to discuss gender and race without considering class. It is also unfair to claim disadvantage in one without acknowledging benefits from the other two.
This is also the biggest criticism against mainstream feminism. It doesn't address class issues as most of the popular causes are upper-middle class issues.
Or other issues. Is someone cis or trans. Or maybe even non-binary. Are they nuero typical. What about the types of parents they had; were the parents verbally abusive (or perhaps worse). How tall are they. How attractive are they (especially with regards to factors that one cannot control, at least without extreme cost of resources). Were they medicated as a child, especially using off label prescriptions of medications show long term effects are not well studied in young children. How much of an introvert/extrovert are they?
The thing that polarizes this discussion is that a very small number of the potential factors which result in privilege are discussed repeatedly, and so people who may have benefited from those select factors but who lost out with regards to the factors not discussed tend to become very agitated of the selective focus being given during discussions.
It really is a question of your family's values, not finances. I know a few affluent families who don't really value education, and there is enough money for the kids to live off of the family fortune (aka "trust fund kids").
Kids born into white trash families and black-ghetto families are equally fucked, not because they are poor (though it does not help), but because they don't have the values and successful role models to follow/ motivate them.
It is not an easy problem to solve - but that's a whole other discussion.
We already have isms that address class issues; they're called Marxism and socialism. Feminism isn't the mommy ideology that has to welcome all into its tent.
First wave and second wave of feminism were both coopted by upper middle class white women. Third wave, the current one, pays some attention to intersectionality, but mainstream feminism doesn't challenge the status quo enough. That's why there is backlash against Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In.
A quote from the wiki page: "Black feminism is a school of thought which argues that sexism, class oppression, gender identity and racism are inextricably bound together"
However, people on HN bring up class to derail conversation about race and gender, but that's a different can of worms.
First and second wave feminism weren't coopted by upper middle class white women, they were founded by upper middle class white women. You can't get more white middle class than Anthony, Friedan, de Beauvoir et al.
Not that Wikipedia is a particularly good source, but your own link includes the sentence "Feminism at its core is a movement to abolish the inequalities women face" which is exactly what I said. A poor boy with troubles in Appalachia is tragic, to be sure, but is not any sort of feminist concern.
Intersectionality isn't a just way to garble up different justice concerns and call it "feminism." Intersectionality comes from the intersection of the axes of oppression on e.g. a black woman. The axes of oppression on a poor white man exist, but have little to do with feminism. This person lives in the privileged position under patriarchy, full stop.
Of course poor white men benefit from the racist patriarchy, but HN gets upset if you say that bluntly.
You seem to disagree that feminism needs to be intersectional? That's fine. A lot of people participate in white feminism, but many feminist leaders believe capitalism, racism, and sexism have to be tackled together.
I claim that is not a valid criticism because speaking for poor white men is not a concern of feminism except where it is obvious that patriarchy is the source of their problems.
Poor white men example was trying to connect to HNers who think privilege is a myth. Privileged tech workers are more likely to acknowledge class advantages. So I hope they could eventually make the leap to gender and race.
The criticism of mainstream feminism is that they don't do enough for working class women or women of color. Which is probably not a concept that HN is ready for.
> It's unfair to discuss gender and race without considering class.
Having a discussion about gender, race, class, etc. alone is challenging enough. Do you really want to say that we shouldn't discuss any of these issues unless we agree to simultaneously discuss all of them? What about all of the other factors that can also lead to inequality?
Does that seem realistic?
Class is an extremely pervasive factor, yes, but I don't believe that talking about other issues amounts to ignoring class divides, any more than discussing diabetes amounts to ignoring cancer.
If I don't concede on class issues then my comment would have been flagged and downvoted into oblivion. I hope at least it got a couple of people do think about gender and race.
Anyway, I upvoted every one of your comments. Thank you for fighting the good fight. I really don't have the energy to argue with ignorant people anymore.
White privilege refers to the privilege people have for the accident of being born white. Economic privilege refers to (in some instances) the privilege people have for the accident of being born rich.
Donald Trump is a mediocre businessman, but he's a billionaire pain in the ass because of the power and influence he gained by having a rich, white father.... but if you took his kid and Russell Simmons' kid and threw them both in a nice car and drove them down various roads, one of them is gonna get profiled by cops a lot more than the other, and it's not going to be Trump's.
However, please understand: whether it needs a new name or not (I suspect it does) the concept of "white privilege" does not mean "all white people automatically have it easier than all black people." No conflict there.
There are some places where beig white is a distinct disadvantage. Like the examples you named. Or, try being a European male in ISIS-controlled territory! That'll get you killed pretty quick, right? No "white privilege" there. In Sunni-dominated regions, in fact, Sunni privilege is a thing. I mean, obviously, right? Sunnis in those regions have a lot of rights that Shia, Jews, Christians, and atheists don't.
So the good news for you here is that the concept of "white privilege" does not involve the notion that white people have magical force fields that render them immune to problems everywhere in the world.
In places like America where whites control nearly all of the wealth as well as the political establishment? For places like this, yeah, it's probably worth taking a look at things and asking ourselves if white people literally controlling almost everything in America might have some effect on equality in America.
Look at it this way, how would people X feel if we called crime instead of crime "people X" behavior as if only that group engaged in crime? And go around saying, well, true many peoples engage in crime but we wanted to highlight that people X engage in lots of crime too so that the people will be conscious of it and then kerb crime.
I mean, we don't go around calling the issue Sunny privilege to describe it
how would people X feel if we called crime instead of crime "people X" behavior as if only that group engaged in crime?
First of all, that would suck, and in this hypothetical city it'd be hard to argue that there wasn't a racial component to those 10,000 muggings. It is, essentially, a black crime in this example.
But! In this hypothetical city, that also means there are 990,000 black people who didn't mug anybody and -- this is the key concept -- didn't profit from those muggings.
White privilege is a little different. As a white person I actually do profit from white privilege. My life hasn't always been easy, and I have generally worked my ass off. But I have also never had to deal with any of the big and small disadvantages that blacks face in America. Nearly every single day of my life -- and this includes some really shitty, tough, fucked up days -- my whiteness has either helped me or at least not been a disadvantage. I profit from white privilege all the time.
It doesn't mean I'm a bad person or that things are always easy, but I do want to recognize it.
Never the less, even in Sunni areas, I dont think it would be helpful to describe the issue suffered by say Shias as Sunni privilege. This representation is apt to create a greater wedge between the groups.
Now, as it pertains people in general, within neighborhoods with a majority class there are oftentimes a classification of people who while may suffer disadvantage outside their neighborhood will most likely experience advantage in their neighborhoods. So let's say a recent poor immigrant from Bolivia going to a south Asian neighborhood, or a Bangladeshi going into a Mexican neighborhood. These two may experience privilege in one area and lack of privilege in another.
Or, see how easy it might be for you to get a stock boy job at a Mexican supermarket in for example LA, versus how easy it might be for a Mexican national to get the job.
So privilege can be found among the many groups within the US itself, not just among whites, as might be portrayed. It's something for which we can find expression, if we look enough.
Never the less, even in Sunni areas, I dont think it
would be helpful to describe the issue suffered by say
Shias as Sunni privilege.
So in an area where, say, Shia are openly and brutally oppressed by Sunnis there's probably no value to talking about "Sunni privilege" because (I'm assuming) the Sunnis in power are not in denial about the situation.
Contrast w/ America where the inequality is present but typically not as severe nor brutal, but a lot of whites are completely in denial of the fact that there is any systemic inequality at all.
It seems to me the better way is to empower those groups. Give them resources --be it educational facilities with an emphasis on overcoming a different framework etc. If we want people from East end London to be able to compete with people from London proper, while not building "posers" we'd want to have them understand how one can better fit into that structure (attempting to modify that structure may not be the best approach. For a look at changing an entrenched structure refer to the many revolutions which failed in their grand ambitions at changing their societies (even homogenous ones).
Further, let's say I wanted to do well in China. Do I keep on insisting on being a Yank? Or do I try to adapt to the mainstream culture, learn their "language" -which is more than just knowing Mandarin but other aspects of friendship and interpersonal relationships? It may depend if I want to work for a foreign (non_Chinese company) or local.
Again, though: I don't feel that addressing one particular facet of inequality is bad for the struggle against inequality as a whole any more than focusing on colon cancer is some kind of insult to say, breast cancer survivors.
If the tribe currently in power in your locale believes you are a member, your life is easier than it otherwise would be. If it believes you are a xeno, or even an enemy of the tribe, then it will be more difficult, whether it is by intentional impediment or by withholding assistance.
This is why Jews are privileged in modern Israel, but unprivileged in Tsarist Russia. It is why Mexico had a disgustingly detailed race hierarchy imposed by Spain. It is why Rwandans massacred each other after Germany and Belgium explicitly favored one subtribe over another. It is why Shi'ite Muslims find it easier to live in Iran than in Saudi Arabia. It is why Chicago city government is corrupt to the core. Skin color is not the only possible tribal indicator.
I would guess that the ruling tribe in the U.S. has not imputed membership to strangers based on their skin color for a long, long time--at least since Irish, Italians, Greeks, Iberians, Ashkenazi Jews, and Eastern Europeans were not considered members. Non-whites may see it as "white privilege", but that is only because the tribe in power is so incredibly bigoted that they have multiple, ranked categories of xeno, such that if you were on fire, they would have to ask you what you looked like before ignition in order to decide whether they would spit on you, piss on you, or just let you burn.
I recall entering a Walgreens in New Orleans. As I watched, someone walked in with a backpack, indiscriminately shoveled several items from a shelf into it, and walked right back out. I glanced to the checkout, where an employee who had also seen the same thing shrugged at me. Tribal privilege. The clerk chose to favor the people of her city/neighborhood over her corporate employer. And you know what? Neither Walgreens nor the NOPD are in my tribe, either, so I shrugged right back. I wouldn't exactly let that guy into my house, but I'm not about to flip him to the cops over one measly bag of deodorant sticks, either. I am too well aware of how certain cities treat their poor people to wish one of them into a jail cell.
Most people couldn't care less what their race is, but it sure is an easy card to play.
But as generations of "white" Americans have learned, if you dress from the JC Penney or Sears catalogue, forbid your children from learning their ancestral language, and forget your cultural traditions, you can be white too! It works!
here's where the "myth myth" started and was easily debunked by a high school student
You are aware that Irish and Eastern Europeans, and on and off through history Greek and Italian, have had all those same problems right? You know that 'White Privilege' you talk about is really just for those of Germanic origin, right?
Because I'd hate for you to look like an idiot telling someone who could have faced all those issues when they moved to Western Europe, the US or Canada that it's all wine and roses for them.
White Privilege should just be called White Devil. It jsut paints such a simplistic view of the world, not a real one, but one that is useful for rhetoric.
Bingo. Race is just one facet anyway. We're all born with various advantages and disadvantages, none of which we have any control over. Just as an example, some people are better looking than others ... and those people tend to have an advantage, because they're better looking. They can get better jobs, better pay, etc. all because of the way they look.
The rest of us just have to work a bit harder. That's how life works. Stop whining. No, life isn't fair. Deal with it.
I realize that the context is different in the U.S. vs the rest of the world, but would you say "life isn't fair, deal with it" to slaves in the South in the 1800s? Or to segregated blacks in the 1900s? Or to women who couldn't vote?
Or, to use a more modern example, to Muslims who are facing prejudice and persecution because of the actions of extremists?
Throughout history, "stop whining, deal with it" has tended to be the refrain of the privileged.
Yes, I would say exactly that.
I would tell them to accept their situation, not whine about it, then break free and run to the north. Many did just that.
When they got to the north, I would encourage them to work hard and make a better life for themselves through hard work. Many did just that.
Yes, they would need to work harder than insert privileged example here to have a good life. Because they're starting from zero. And that's fine. Because that's life.
Many of us start from zero or worse. Many of us were hurt or are being hurt by someone's unjust actions. That doesn't mean you try to rig the system.
We are born with thousands of disadvantages and thousands of advantages. You simply can't engineer a system that will compensate for all of that to create some sort of utopia. We tried that before. It didn't go so well.
In your examples, nobody would break free and run to the north if they didn't recognize the inequality in the first place.
Also, is that really what you want to say on a public forum? You want to say that ending slavery was the slaves' responsibility? Interesting.
Not what I said, you need to buy new reading glasses.
Doing anything starts with the individual. If you're a slave, that means resisting and running away. If you're a white dude in the north, that means supporting abolition. You get the idea. That's the only way to get anything done.
> Recognizing privilege and inequality is not "rigging the system."
Recognizing? You're not interested in recognizing.
You're interested in discriminating against those you recognized as privileged to benefit those you recognized as disadvantaged. Which is bad enough, but really much worse because of the you part ... and the you part is always the privileged.
This isn't the minorities standing up for themselves ... it's just the privileged stacking the deck again. The only way to make sure absolute justice and fairness is to make sure the deck is never stacked. Ever. For any reason.
That is fundamentally different from a society with legal equality for all individuals. Yes, some groups will be more popular than others. It's hard to see how that can ever be avoided.
Of course, if you are a slave, you do really need to deal with that situation as best as you can. Does anyone dispute that?
Just like the other arbitrary things that can needlessly hold a person or group of people back, if it can be fixed why not fix it? What's wrong with dealing with it that way?
You seem to suggest to that people keep quiet, keep their head down and not rock the boat.
That's a defeatist attitude and suggests that you don't think any effort should be spent trying to correct something that's broken in the world.
If the fix is "lay guilt upon and attempt to disadvantage all people of a certain skin color because some of that skin color have had an easier time in life", then it doesn't seem like much of a fix, does it?
Racism and bigotry need to be wrong in all cases or the moral authority against them is diminished.
Because your cure is worse than the disease.
> you don't think any effort should be spent trying to correct something that's broken in the world.
I think racism is bad. I think it's bad in all circumstances because it corrupts our meritocratic society.
Using racism to fix racism is dumb. Because racism is bad in all circumstances.
80% of humanity lives on less than $10 per day. Do you not believe that among those billions of people, there could be many who are just as smart and hardworking as you, but have no access to the physical, social, and cultural capital they need to rise above subsistence living?
If your so-called meritocracy only applies to 10% of the earth's population, it isn't much of one.
And no one is using racism to fix racism. Only someone who is desperately clinging to that advantage they have for being white would say that.
There's no part of examining privilege that says race is the only facet of one's existence soooooo at least you don't disagree with it there.
To even make a statement like that is like getting mad at "breast cancer awareness" because "it's not the only kind of cancer."
I can't emphasize enough that literally nobody is claiming that race is the only facet of one's existence.
I've been told off + blocked on twitter for chiming in about something I have intimate personal experience with, because white male.
Or the semi-famous video "you're a WHITE MALE!" (language warning) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0diJNybk0Mw
If it helps to hear this from a white male who is a believer in recognizing white privilege and male privilege: being white and/or being male are sometimes disadvantages too!
In most of America, you can't be male and teach young kids these days. People (parents) will wonder if you're a child molester, and get weirded out by the prospect of you helping kids go to the bathroom even though they'd be fine with a female teacher doing the same thing.
Recognizing something like that isn't incompatible with recognizing male privilege.
The point that you're [ missing | skirting ] though is many folks use the existence of privilege to ignore/bully/hate (eg, my YT link above, the white professor who got berated on campus, etc etc).
Did black kids pick some fights with me in school because I was white? Yes. It's a real thing that happens.
It's a fallacy, of course, to dismiss a belief just because some of its believers are assholes, even if they're being assholes in the name of that cause. I mean really, no group or belief on this Earth could ever pass that criteria.
However, oftentimes white males say the same exact things. You can kind of enumerate them, "Not all white males," "White people can be poor," "Hey, you're black, can you explain...?" etc.
Many answers to these questions can be found here: http://theteej.tumblr.com/post/122334039549/hi-white-friends...
I don't expect you to read it. But if you want to understand why people get frustrated when you chime in about something it's probably because they've heard the thing that you're saying a gazillion times already and are tired of responding to it. They don't owe you a response.
Finally, I'll reference John Green and say that if you're doing something that multiple people tell you is offensive or bothersome: Stop doing it.
Does that include people telling you Social Justice rhetoric is offensive or bothersome?
To be honest, I don't normally try to defend this sort of thing on the internet because it's hard to establish a connection. I can't listen to your experiences, BurningFrog, and empathize. I'd like to. Because I think that that's the only way to change your opinion, and I think this is important.
That said, since I fully expect you to tell me that championing social justice is bothersome I'll let you know that you'll be the first person to tell me that [which I find surprising, although I suppose it's because I truly don't discuss it much].
You are aware that Irish and Eastern Europeans, and on and off through history Greek and Italian, have had all those same problems right?
Literally nobody is denying that Italians, Irish, Eastern Europeans, or people from unfashionable parts of Brussels, or your mother's uncle's cousin from Estonia, have faced discrimination at various points in time, and perhaps still do today.
White Privilege should just be called White Devil.
It absolutely does not imply that white people are bad, or that white people are devils, or anything of the sort.
The concept of white privilege is a way of viewing things that challenges us to observe freedoms that we as white people have that others don't always enjoy.
For example: as a white person, if a cop pulls me over, I may be treated unfairly. But whatever happens, I generally know that I won't be treated badly because of my race. He certainly didn't pull me over because I'm fucking part Welsh, I can tell you that! Black people don't have that privilege. Now, 99% of the time, maybe their race doesn't have anything to do with their interactions with the police. Most cops are good people. But wouldn't it suck to be black and never really know if a cop was going to treat you badly simply because you're black? And that at least once or twice in your life, it probably will happen? That's some bullshit I don't really ever have to deal with in my life. A privilege I have, if you will.
Now, like I said above, I can't help but wonder if we do need some new terminology here.
I am certain that I have not changed your mind. Again, I'm just defining the concept for you. You can agree with it or disagree with it at this point. That's cool. But your post made it very clear that you had no understanding of the concept. Probably because the term "white privilege" itself was a turn-off. You probably thought it was an attack on white people. It's not.
Those that are different always have some disadvantages. We should be working towards fair societies, not replacing one type of discrimination with another.
Can you explain in detail?
I could clamor for tall rich sportsmen to "send the elevator down for me". That it's their responsibility and so on. What you should do is reflect on exactly why you'd think I should feel silly for saying that, and the other guy to not. Would you tell Michael Jordan to check his privilege if he told a group of average white male nerds to reflect on theirs?
It's simply intractable to add up everyone's advantages and disadvantages
it's the wrong path to focus on group attributes/trends when you start talking about individuals.
As you say, every individual human being certainly is more than the some of their labels. But when gross inequalities between groups emerge, it's lunacy to suggest there are no greater group-wide forces at work on scales greater than the individual.
Would you tell Michael Jordan to check his privilege if he told a group of average white male nerds to reflect on theirs?
I'm not even sure what you're getting at here. He is a part of some privileged groups (rich people, people with one-in-a-million athletic ability, men) and not others.
I could clamor for tall rich sportsmen to "send the
elevator down for me". That it's their responsibility
and so on.
Gross inequalities between groups _can_ exist, but that tells us _nothing_ about any particular individual within the group, only that individual's chances _when no other information is available_. But other information _is_ available when looking at an individual.
You seem to be suggesting we somehow theoretically add up all one's advantages and disadvantages- But that means... Considering the individual. Great, I agree. Since we are doing that, phrases such as "recognize your male privilege" mean nothing to an individual male, because it is very possible that individual male has severe disadvantages that make singling out the maleness aspect ridiculous- It would be like telling a minority male shot by a cop to reflect on his privilege of not generally facing sexism like a woman does (setting aside that a "male" privilege here is actually a disadvantage, but you get the idea).
In general people have an obligation to help the less fortunate, I agree.
I'm not sure what you are getting at with your school example.
If Town A had a cancer rate 5 times higher than the national average surely you wouldn't say, "Well, look, those people are individuals, and an individual's cancer risk is affected by lots of things -- diet, exercise, genetic predisposition... to heck with looking for differences between Town A and Town B."
Clearly you'd want to start investigating things that affect Town A on a town-wide basis.
I wish this comment would be at the top instead of the ones talking about skin color. I just don't understand the United States obsession with looking at discrimination in a black vs. white way. Discrimination against minorities is what it really should be termed.
All over the world, politically dominant segments of population discriminate against the politically weaker. Sunni vs. Shite, Catholics vs. Protestants, Hindu vs. Muslim, Brahmins vs. Dalits, Western Europeans vs. Eastern, Chinese vs. Taiwanese, the list is endless. You can interchange the phrase "white privilege" or "is it because i'm black" with any of the above minorities, and the effect would be the same (in the relevant country of course).
Shifting the conversation from discrimination of minorities in general, towards discrimination specifically based on skin color is a very narrow minded view, and in my opinion, more likely to cause harm than trigger solutions.
I'm all for helping people that have been disadvantaged in life. What I'm not okay with is the fact that society expects me to do anything on the basis of my skin color or gender. I will do something if I think it's the right and moral thing to do, not because a bunch of people on the internet told me it was the right thing to do.
I think the disconnect lies in that many people (such as yourself) believe that it's such a clear cut thing when in reality it's much grayer, like everything else in life. Essentially, stop telling other people how to live their lives.
In your example, it's the cop that's committing the infraction. And yet, I'm the one that is expected to improve the situation, despite the fact that I've never been racist.
I don't feel "guilty" if a white cop murders a black person, just like I don't feel guilty if I see somebody in a wheelchair. I do hate it, and I do try to consider how lucky I am, and maybe hopefully think about how I can make that situation better, or at least not make it worse.
The idea is literally just to recognize that the inequality exists.
Obviously the hope is that once we recognize that inequalities exist, we might want to address them somehow. Maybe as a society, maybe just as individuals being more mindful of how we treat others.
Like if I get resumes from "Edmund Smith" and "Jamal Brown." Should I automatically hire "Jamal Brown" because he "sounds black?" Hell no. Should I take an honest look at myself and make sure I'm not making assumptions based on what I assume to be Jamal's race and what I assume people of his race are like? Yes. If I work at a large company, should I maybe even look at the data and see if we as a company are rejecting "black sounding" candidates more often than "white sounding" candidates of equal qualifications? Probably, yeah, because it's the right thing to do and our company is only hurting itself if our hiring process is being compromised by inequal hiring practices.
Anyway, even if you hate those examples I just gave, know that the goal of recognizing privilege is awareness.
Prima facie, the use of the term leads people to believe that an identifiable group of people (white people) has obtained things which they do not deserve (privilege). A typical human response to being told that another group has things which were unjustly obtained is resentment and hostility. This is inevitable and obvious. The term is by its construction divisive.
> It's not.
That's merely an assertion. The term is a tool. Some people use it to try to effect positive change for certain groups of people (I'm assuming this includes you). Some people very much can and do use it as a weapon to enact their idea of retribution.
Out of the car and put your hands on the hood, Taffy.
Am I going to find any sheep or coal in your vehicle, sir? Maybe some really bland food?
For instance, Irish-Americans did not have a particularly great time in the US in the mid-19th century by any means, but they had a much better time than African-Americans. They faced serious discrimination, but they rarely were assumed to be runaway slaves.
I think it's useful to acknowledge that even today, some groups of people have basic privileges like being assumed not to be a thief that everyone ought to have, and we can acknowledge that without reducing it to a simple white-nonwhite line.
It's worth going back to the original essay discussing "white privilege" -- the text can be found at http://ted.coe.wayne.edu/ele3600/mcintosh.html. A few highlights:
4. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
5. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
6. When I am told about our national heritage or about civilization, I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
12. 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.
13. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.
14. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
15. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
Irish people in American get to do all those things today, as do Italian-Americans! When's the last time you were called a credit to your race? Me, never -- even though once in the past, the US government tried to deport a Finn under the Oriental Exclusion Act (John Swan, 1909) and Finns were regarded as backward and slow. Times change and that hasn't been a problem lately.
You've never heard of "White Trash" or "Rednecks" (a.k.a Bogans in Australia) or how "uneducated" the South is in America (nevermind that Alabama outranks California in graduation ranks)?
> I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
And yet, here you are. Speaking for all of us.
And that doesn't compare to what Jews went through 50 years ago. What's your point? There's always a bigger sob story around the corner. You deal with it and move on. The moving on part is important.
> whereas prejudice against "people of color" is still very much alive.
And that prejudice will amplify if you continue treating people of color differently. By providing special privileges to make up for the sins of the past, you are fomenting racism today. Every white guy who didn't get a job because of the color of his skin is now a newly minted racist. And while he really should direct his ire toward misguided leftists, in the end, he'll blame the person of color instead ... which is sad.
And that prejudice will amplify if you continue treating people of color differently.
Equality is the goal; recognizing inequality is part of how we get there.
That's your goal. I don't share it.
I want equal opportunity, not equal outcome. We will never have equal outcome because we're all different and that's a good thing.
And I don't care if you're disadvantaged because of a thousand different reasons. None of us are born equal. We have no control over that.
What we can do is make sure that the bar is the same for everyone. That's the only equality I'm interested in.
> recognizing inequality is part of how we get there
That is a terrible approach because you have no idea if the inequality arose out of unjustified discrimination, innate differences in talent, effort invested, or a thousand other things.
I would much rather focus on making sure that the bar is set to the same height for everyone, regardless of color, sex, age, ethnicity, religion, or any other damned thing people decide to group themselves or others by.
I should have been more specific, but if it makes you feel any better: I did mean "equal opportunity" and not "equal outcome."
Why did you write something so vitriolic based on an ambiguity? But ultimately, yes, my fault for being ambiguous.
> And that prejudice will amplify if you continue treating people of color differently.
Do you have a source for this? Such policy has real concrete effects with statistics you can point to. You can see the real positive effect it has on certain groups of people.
The only effect on white people I've seen documented is that racists have another bullet point on their long list of talking points to stir up their voter base. It doesn't bother normal people.
As a potential candidate, if you're going home and blaming affirmative action for the reason you didn't get hired, it says a lot about the way you think. Mainly, that you blame other people for your problems, specifically minorities, which is an odd conclusion to come to.
Yeah. It's called deductive reasoning.
You scream about the evils of racism and what harm it's done to our society ... and your solution is more racism, just in the opposite direction? Smart.
How about no racism at all? I think that's better.
> Mainly, that you blame other people for your problems, specifically minorities, which is an odd conclusion to come to.
It is an absolutely odd conclusion to come to. It would make more sense to blame people like you. Unfortunately, human beings aren't purely logical and when they see another person at the job they should have had ... they blame that person, rather than the policy that put them there.
What's worse, nobody knows if that policy is at fault or not ... so people assume that they got fucked over, because it's always easier to blame someone else than yourself. So you've now created a society that resents success, because it's assumed that success only comes to the privileged classes like minorities, etc, rather than to those who earned it.
Congrats on making a full circle.
I will say, though, that it doesn't seem completely crazy to be angry at a system that is purposely favoring people with a race other than yours. I'm not asian, but I have heard that asians get the most points "docked" from them automatically when applying to colleges because asians study harder/do better on tests in general. It's not just that certain racists think that, it's that it's literally built into the system. If you study really hard despite a poor upbringing and get an A- on a test, and then know that it really only counts for a "B" for other races (even those that grew up in rich families with personal tutors), that wouldn't bother you even a little?
And the sentiment you mention in your last sentence goes both ways. Lots of non-white people complain about not getting a job or otherwise not getting opportunities because of their race. And that's when there isn't an actual documented system in place that enforces it! I am sure some of them are absolutely right, but it's unlikely all of them are.
Except of course during all those times where some whites were discriminated against, people of color always had it worse.
No, you need better arguments, you can start with the ones where there's no assumption that racism towards certain groups is okay.
Today is the same path: you guys should feel guilty for being in a white collar job. You are in this job not because of your work but because of your race/skin. The implication is that you should step back and get out.
For all the talk about white privilege, I never hear the solutions to it. What is OP supposed to do: not get the job? Not feed his family? How is he supposed to prove that he is aware of his "white privilege"?
The world is divided among two groups of people: people who live for themselves, and people who live for the validation of others.
The latter group believes that changing 'language' results in changing reality. If you want to lose weight, then get a funny mirror which shows you that you're skinny and that would result in you somehow working towards it and becoming skinny. That reality is merely a 'social construct' so modification of the social construct is all what you need to permeate those changes into other parts of the 'reality'.
It's this group of people who believe that minorities aren't succeeding because they don't get enough validation from others. This confuses most of the other people who never cared for this validation.
So people like you or OP says, "But I never needed other people's validation", and these people respond "Oh because you always got the validation, that's why you don't think anyone needs validation".
To answer your question, these people want you to 'validate' minorities. Make it look like that they're successful and apparently that will make them successful.
If you ask me, that just results in creation of pathetic individuals who will never achieve anything real in life.
Of course he should take the job. The point of this discussion isn't to punish one group in favor of another; its to raise awareness that there is an underlying disadvantage for some types of people that has impacted their ability to get as far as you have.
The goal is to change your frame of mind ever so slightly, so that when you are faced with two identical resumes, one from a 25 year old white male and one from a 35-year old black woman, you don't immediately choose the white male due to "culture fit." You may take the time to stop your colleagues from belittling a marginalized employee rather than ignoring it. You may actively push to create programs that bring underprivileged groups into your organization rather than scare them away.
It's about using the position that you gained through your own hard work to help others who through no fault of their own have to work harder for the same success.
Are you really comparing Internet essays about 'white privilege' to the Nazi movement?
Acknowledging that it is easier to make it in the tech industry if you are a white male does not mean that it wasn't hard for you. It just means, for example, that it probably would have been even harder if you were an Eastern European woman who grew up in a poor family.
You don't call out the author on such comments because you don't need to read such comments as a personal attack. I worked hard as hell to get into this industry. I came from a poor family. I slept in my car for a long time just to afford to get my first product out. But I had the advantage of being a white male who grew up in a culture where those things gave me an advantage from birth.
From the cartoons I watched as a child (far more male heroes than female) to the politicians in my country (mostly white and male), to most of my role models in my field of choice (also white, male). In addition to a million other invisible benefits. I was able to go into technology with confidence and social support that many other groups will not have.
> No, it's not. Just like women don't have any duty to ensure that there's an arbitrary number of men working as models and just like black NBA players have no obligation to ensure that there's enough white guys on the team I have no obligation to worry about some arbitrary quotas.
I think that's a sad way to look at things. We are not trying to ensure there is an "arbitrary number" of certain types of people working in our field. We are simply acknowledging that there are unnecessary hurdles faced by many groups who may otherwise already be working in our field. It is a wonderful thing to have the power and voice to "send the elevator down" to help those people up.
Women here get hired easier (because US companies have the same policy for quotas, Intel is notorious for this), I know women who got an internship purely because they were women, there are free bootcamps and classes targeting women... not to mention all these special programs EU has for women who want to start their own company (and yes, these programs are for women exclusively). I have yet to see a program or class targeted specifically for men.
So exactly what disadvantages are you talking about?
Apple's diversity report  states their tech employees are composed of 79% male, 22% female.
Facebook's diversity report  shows 85% males in tech vs 15% female.
Google's is pretty much the same, and you can compare them all with interactive graphs .
Note the dominance of white and male in the graphs.
The programs you mention for women are great, I agree. These are the steps we need to take if we want women who are interested in technology to come forward join our field. But women are not more easily hired. If that were the case then it would be reflected in, you know, reality.
"We are not trying to ensure there is an "arbitrary number" of certain types of people working in our field."
You are a walking Poster Child for hypocrisy.
I am pointing at data showing a large disparity in tech employment relative to the population. Women are equally as capable as men when it comes to tech, so we should expect equal representation. We don't get equal representation because of existing cultural biases against women in this field.
It's the same reason we don't get equal representation of men in many "women's" fields where men are clearly as capable as women.
Are you really that ignorant?
> Women are equally as capable as men when it comes to tech, so we should expect equal representation.
And why are there not more women collecting trash or sweeping our streets (90% male)?
And why are there not more men teaching our children in K-12 (80% female)? Obviously men are just as capable and just as smart.
This is conjecture.
> We don't get equal representation because of existing cultural biases against women in this field.
As is this.
You are pointing to data and making your own conclusions that the data simply isn't complete enough to show.
They can make the entry level for women lower and get those numbers simply due to the lack of women applying in the first place. That would mean it would be easier for a qualified women in the industry to get a job than a man of equal qualification. Which is
ManlyBread was saying.
Reality tends to change when you, you know, actually understand logic and statistics.
Not if you actually look at the graphs. Just taking the Apple data at random, the US numbers are
54% white, 18% asian, 11% hispanic, 8% black, etc.
The 2010 US census numbers are:
64% white, 5% asian, 16% hispanic, 12% black.
So whites are actually underrepresented, while there are 3.6x as many asians.
It directly contradicts your claim about the data.
Yes, the above is partly tongue-in-cheek (I realize that not all employees are programmers). I am just trying to make a point that companies hire from a pool of qualified candidates (with college degree usually being the "qualified" selector). So if the pool consists of 18% women, companies will likely not have more than 18% women as programmers.
As to why 18% of computer science graduates are women is a completely separate discussion from the topic at hand.
How privileged they must be!
> to the narrowed defined male acceptable professions, to most of role models in other professions (all female)
Are you trying to start a competition of who can exclude each other the most?
> In addition to a million other invisible punishments for not following the cultural rules
Such rules are what hold us back. Encouraging diversity where you have the power to do so is a great way to break these rules and help people.
> I, like most of people with my gender went to a profession that was cultural accepted for that gender, and most people of the other gender went to cultural accepted professions for their gender.
It's a sad thing, isn't it? It would be great if we could change our industry for the better and perhaps become an example to others.
> More male villains is on point. Heroes and villains are powerful. We typically see more female victims than male.
A study a few years ago looked at the probability that a character would get killed, and fathers in movies had a much higher chance to be killed that a mothers. It generally followed the lines of older male role model -> fathers -> daughters -> sons -> mothers as highest to lowest risk of being a victim of murder in movies. They did not look at henchmen, especially those located in movies for kids.
But what I really find is sad, is that certain type of villains are so exclusively male that they never gets casted as female. One of those is the character that the audience is supposed to get a visceral hatred for. The character that do evil for evil sake, that torture his victim for no reason, and the audience is made to hate so much that any violence is not enough to satisfy the justified cry for blood. I have never seen a feminist advocate to have a female Vaas Montenegro, nor do I think we will see one any time soon.
Where I grew up (in 1980s US), white males were almost universally derided for being into technology. It wasn't until the 2000s that it became "cool". There was no privilege associated with being a geek. It was something many of us did despite the social stigma. That's why it's humorous to see people claim there was some sort of privilege associated with those who where early in tech. Yes it turned out to be economically viable but there was huge social pressure against participating.
You still had some "privileges" by not being black, and not being a woman. "Privileges" in the sense that you weren't automatically assumed to be a thief, for example, when walking in to a store. Or the privilege of actually being granted an interview for a non-secretarial position when you applied for one.
The "white male privilege" people speak of is less to do with people handing you bags of money and opening doors for you, and more to do with those doors not actively being shut in your face simply by dint of gender or skin color.
I speak as a white male who grew up in the 80s and in to technology. I certainly remember it was not 'cool' to be in to computers/tech back then (not like now) but there should be little disagreement that being male was not a hindrance for most desired walks of life (whereas being female, moreso then, definitely was).
Really? I physically got my ass kicked every single day. At one point it was so bad i had to get shoulder surgery because i took a beating from black kids who thought i was a geek or whatever. I grew up in what is now considered a ghetto and i was fearful for my life for studying CS. If this white privilege bs existed i would be a millionaire by now and i would still be able to use my left arm to lift more than a liter of milk. People use it as an excuse for racism and their white guilt bullshit. We didn't grow up in the US, we didnt have black slaves and some of our family was slaves.
Just looking at the US and seeing this "white privilege" makes me angry. I doubt i as a white european could get a scholarship to a college even though i've been in software for 10+ years. But you see stories every single day that people find it unfair that there is only scholarships for african americans/asian americans and that they're cutting back on asian americans because apparently they're under "white privilege" as well.
I'm sorry if i haven't gotten my point across or if i haven't typed things properly, but stuff like this infuriates me to no end when i literally had to fight my way to school everyday.
Everyday things like going to a store, going to a bank, taking out a car loan, going to a movie all, on the whole, in the united states in the last 50-100 years, tend to be less troublesome for "white" male folk than for non-white and non-male folks. My assertion here is based on decades of anecdotes and sharing experiences with friends/colleagues/families. Is my assertion scientific proof? Nope. I just don't understand why people can't grasp that being part of a majority in a society generally confers some benefits, even if those benefits are just measured in lack of hindrances/obstacles/barriers.
I would say that when people are talking about "white male privilege", it's generally understood to be US/Western Europe/'white' areas that are being talked about. Me being a 'white male' in Shanghai had 0 benefit to me, and was actually a hindrance (though having a poor grasp of the language contributed greatly).
Yet you where the one slapping it on people telling them they've benefited from it. You don't know that. You can't know that. You're using a race and gender targeted generalization which is the problem in the first place. Stop.
It doesn't change what I've said above. I still walked into Computer Science feeling at ease with the course before I started, and feeling easily welcomed among my very nerdy peers. (Plus the one girl in the first class I had. Imagine how she felt. Social stigma of computers and being the only girl. Must've sucked.)
Would you have felt "at ease" walking into a design course at the fashion institute? How about a freestyle rap battle or a pick-up basketball game? A rodeo?
Different cultures expose their members to different activities. Outsiders may have a tougher time breaking in but it can be done. Finding the strength to do it is admirable. Homogenizing everyone is not.
Are you saying that people should be uncomfortable pursuing their interests if those interests aren't culturally acceptable for their class/gender/race to pursue?
Because I disagree. People should feel comfortable pursuing such interests. We should work to remove the cultural stigma that stops people from participating in fields they would clearly enjoy. It doesn't homogenise anyone.
Spot on. If the previous poster went to a technical institute in Eastern Europe, I am willing to bet that his classes were at least 90% male.
during early high school the dot com bubble happened and most of my teachers advised me against going into IT, they talked about low wages, unemployment, constantly re learning as tech progresses, outsourcing job et al
girls didn't much care for computer guys and they were near the bottom of the social pecking order. in my experience i was an outcast.
i was being highly discouraged everywhere i looked, but i didn't care one bit, i was doing it because i was interested in it. of course now all of those factors have reversed themselves not that i could have forseen that.
my point is that maybe today women and certain races face some of these issues, maybe you could make the argument that they're discouraged (seems to me that they're encouraged a lot more than i was) but even if we accept that as a truism, which i clearly don't, who cares, if these people are no less able let them prove it and this culture of barriers (which i don't believe in anyway) will subside.
I have a young boy and a girl. They are pushed into so many gendered roles from such a young age I have a really hard time trying to figure out what they actually like, versus what society tells them they should like.
My son recently picked up a pink toy in a store and said "I can't have this one because it's for girls, daddy." He used to love the colour pink. I wanted to scream in frustration because society has pushed him to rate a wavelength of light as "for girls" or "for boys." I told him that anyone can like whatever colour they want. But he now refuses to play with pink toys, because society has made it very clear that he's not supposed to touch them.
So yeah, maybe women would make fine plumbers and miners. We have typically pushed men into those roles. So we'll never know.
Maybe he's comfortable with his gender and gender roles? Maybe that will help him get a wife someday and you grandchildren. It's not for everyone but maybe it will be for him.
A child should never feel ashamed of liking something as simple as a colour. That is ridiculous.
> Maybe he's comfortable with his gender and gender roles? Maybe that will help him get a wife someday and you grandchildren. It's not for everyone but maybe it will be for him.
Are you serious? He can get a wife or whatever he wants when he knows what that is. It is amusing to think that traditional "gender roles" would help in any way with that.
If the wavelength were the determining factor, green would be gender-neutral, and purple would be androgynous.
Not that this particular societal prejudice could ever be explained rationally, of course.~
Yet we know from data and endless personal stories that many women start out performing well and enjoying math and science in school, but then leave computing fields for cultural reasons--they feel uncomfortable or like there is a hard glass ceiling.
That is the problem--not the raw participation numbers, but the reasons behind the numbers.
If there was some natural preference of women away from computing, then the percentage of women in programming would be relatively fixed over time. What the data shows is that women have left computing fields in dramatic number over the last 30 years. Every study into why has shown that, to some extent, they have been driven out.
I've never once worked somewhere where everybody didn't walk on eggshells to ensure not to offend anyone. Women who are being harassed and intimidated have legal recourse. It's practically career ending to end up on the wrong end of a sexual harassment complaint to HR.
>What the data shows is that women have left computing fields in dramatic number over the last 30 years. Every study into why has shown that, to some extent, they have been driven out.
Please cite your sources.
There's a positive way and a negative to resolve the situation. The negative way is to impose hiring quotas, so that everyone--even white guys--feel the same fear of unfair denial. That's what you're talking about when you say:
> The proposed solution is to discriminate against people like me.
But there's another way. The positive way is for people to use their conscious intelligent mind to analyze and overrule the unconscious implicit biases that they grew up with, so everyone gets a fairer chance based on merit. For that to happen, a lot of people will need to a) believe it's a problem, and b) work out loud to fix it. Your comments are not moving the ball in that more positive direction, unfortunately.
> Please cite your sources.
I have been in a position where I was overtly discriminated against because of my race and gender. It was in the early 90s and I was denied admission to a magnet elementary school that my older sister attended. The year I applied they took 50 out of 200. I scored 37th, but I wasn't chosen because diversity. There were lawsuits, and the practice was stopped. Now admissions are blind to race and gender. My younger brother also ended up attending that magnet program. It made a significant impact on the trajectory of my life, and it didn't feel any less terrible to be discriminated against because I am a white male.
A fairer chance based on merit isn't going to solve the gender / racial imbalance in tech. Tech is a meritocracy. Either your program works or it doesn't. The computer doesn't care at all whether or not you have "privilege."
> One-hundred-ninety-two women cited discomfort working in environments that felt overtly or implicitly discriminatory as a primary factor in their decision to leave tech. That’s just over a quarter of the women surveyed. Several of them mention discrimination related to their age, race, or sexuality in addition to gender and motherhood.
> A Harvard Business Review study from 2008 found that as many as 50% of women working in science, engineering and technology will, over time, leave because of hostile work environments.
> I first learned to code at age 16, and am now in my 30s. I have a math PhD from Duke. I still remember my pride in a “knight’s tour” algorithm that I wrote in C++ in high school; the awesome mind warp of an interpreter that can interpret itself (a Scheme course my first semester of college); my fascination with numerous types of matrix factorizations in C in grad school; and my excitement about relational databases and web scrapers in my first real job.
> Over a decade after I first learned to program, I still loved algorithms, but felt alienated and depressed by tech culture. While at a company that was a particularly poor culture fit, I was so unhappy that I hired a career counselor to discuss alternative career paths. Leaving tech would have been devastating, but staying was tough.
> Here is a sampling of just a few of the studies on unconscious gender bias:
> Investors preferred entrepreneurial ventures pitched by a man than an identical pitch from a woman by a rate of 68% to 32% in a study conducted jointly by HBS, Wharton, and MIT Sloan. “Male-narrated pitches were rated as more persuasive, logical and fact-based than were the same pitches narrated by a female voice.”
> In a randomized, double-blind study by Yale researchers, science faculty at 6 major institutions evaluated applications for a lab manager position. Applications randomly assigned a male name were rated as significantly more competent and hirable and offered a higher starting salary and more career mentoring, compared to identical applications assigned female names.
> When men and women negotiated a job offer by reading identical scripts for a Harvard and CMU study, women who asked for a higher salary were rated as being more difficult to work with and less nice, but men were not perceived negatively for negotiating.
> Psychology faculty were sent CVs for an applicant (randomly assigned male or female name), and both men and women were significantly more likely to hire a male applicant than a female applicant with an identical record.
> In 248 performance reviews of high-performers in tech, negative personality criticism (such as abrasive, strident, or irrational) showed up in 85% of reviews for women and just 2% of reviews for men. It is ridiculous to assume that 85% of women have personality problems and that only 2% of men do.
> I have been in a position where I was overtly discriminated against because of my race and gender.
Then you should be more empathetic to what women experience in the tech industry, but apparently it has made you less empathetic. Which is a shame because success is not zero-sum. In fact, the easier it is for smart women and minorities to succeed, the more great companies and coworkers we will all have.
That is an absurd, subjective, abstract theory with no research to back it. The same thing can be said of any sex, race or creed in virtually any instance of life. Get over yourself and quit acting like this is exclusive to white people.
White people did not invent sexism. Neither is it exclusive to them.
White people did not invent racism. Neither is it exclusive to them.
White people did not invent religion. Neither is it exclusive to them.
We don't even have to look back to when slavery was legal, the blatant use of racism and dog-whistle politics to gain white racist's votes is well documented as being the core tenet to the Southern strategy.
Did you know that less than 1% of the population in America owned slaves in the 19th century? And some of those 1% where African? And that some of those slaves where European or Asian? And that all of those 1% are now dead and long gone?
> We don't even have to look back to when slavery was legal
I hope you realize, that you can turn back the clock and find fault with all races, sexes and creeds. You are being ignorant and singling out one race to fit your narrative of "White Privilege". This is the 21st century. Quit using 19th century white guilt to push an agenda.
Why do people view this as an attack on their character? It's just a bunch of facts, spelled out in legislation.
I am a "white American" and my grandfather grew up in a home with dirt floors then built his home with his own hands (twice, because his first home burned down). Quit making such pompous assumptions.
From Wikipedia 
> For example, in Atlanta in the 1980s, a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles by investigative-reporter Bill Dedman showed that banks would often lend to lower-income whites but not to middle- or upper-income blacks.
The previous poster said "your grandparents". A narrow minded assumption that every white person reading his comment would/should identify with.
> The previous poster is simply pointing out the better mortgage rates many white Americans of his generation would have received as a direct result of the racist culture.
Then quit complaining to the current generation(s). Grow up, start acting like an adult and move on with your life.
> in Atlanta in the 1980s
Yeah. One town. In the 1980s. So now what?
Did you know that in the 1920s, when Turkey over took the Ottoman empire, they slaughtered 1.5 million Armenians? A mass genocide that still has ripple effects until this very day.
It sounds like you're pretty emotional about your grandparents' life, and that's cool; it shouldn't preclude discussion of history that acknowledge the intentionally differential effects of Reconstruction, federal support for homeownership, federal sentencing laws for drug crimes, voting law, etc. These are all facts in history that have effects on what is possible now, because they have determined what we're starting from. Why say that the Armenians are still allowed to be traumatized about what happened in the 1920s while black Americans aren't allowed to talk about mortgages in the 1980s? It just isn't very logical. We should be able to talk about all of this.
It wasn't logic...it was sarcasm. The Armenians have moved on with their lives and recognize that people are not guilty for the sins of our great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers.
You want to talk about mortgages in the 1980s? Great...and like I asked the last person..."So now what?" We tried sub-prime mortgages to combat that and look where that got us in 2008.
I think that was sarcasm, I think the point was why mortgages in 1980 and not genocide in 1920s - i.e. Where does it end?
I've heard this assertion made many times in recent years, but I don't recall any reasoned arguments for why the listener should accept it as a moral imperative.
Since the assertion clearly isn't something we'll all automatically accept, the author may wish to offer a reasoned argument for it.
And if he's unable to offer a good one, he should probably reconsider making the assertion.
Not having people assume you're a violent thug because of the color of your skin is privilege.
My wife is a high-level expert in e-commerce, and has been a professional analyst in the field for 15 years. I've watched men carefully explain to her how credit card processing works as if she was an idiot, gently correcting her when she disagrees or contradicts them.
Not getting mansplained about your own area of expertise is privilege.
Does this help?
In earlier comments I wasn't asserting that being a white male has no advantages in the software industry. I was curious about the author's reasoning as to why attempting to counteract it was a moral imperative for white males.
Can you give the context under which this happened?
Who where these people? Why did they not think your wife was capable?
Here on HN, where people ostensibly require the weight of evidence to accept a concept, I would expect nearly 100% of people to reject this evidence-free, baseless emotional concept immediately out of hand. Yet somehow, this community of rationalists buy into handwaving without any critical thought.
We nerds appear to be just as dogmatically religious as those whose ideas we reject on the basis of lack of evidence. A little saddening.
I wasn't suggesting that because moral claims are metaphysical in nature, they're automatically wrong or meaningless.
Just that because no such arguments are offered at all, the best the author can hope for is that the argument either strikes the listeners as obviously true, or prods the listeners into further consideration which leads them to the same conclusion.
My point was simply that the only chance he has of convincing some of us (including me) of his assertion is to actually do the work of presenting a decent argument, which he hasn't done.
I wouldn't say you got an easy ride, just that your ride was easier than some others had it?
It might be a cultural thing, but I know that some of my neighbours wouldn't consider me white. Probably because I didn't have the time to shave and I really like my keffiyeh arround my neck and suddenly I might get these looks of "What does this stinking arab do on my street?"
Based on this, I think I agree with the notion that it is my responsibility to change the industry and its bias towards more inclusion. And I don't mean in "we need more quotas" sense, more in "when you see BS, call on it".
I think this is why he mentions "I am making 135 KCHF per year. That was my current salary. How about you? And you? The more we speak out, the less inequality there will be."
Based on this, I think I can empathise.
You're talking to a guy who lives in a country where people who work minimal wage jobs earn about 3900$ per year. As a Junior programmer I earn about 7500$ per year and I'm considered to be "lucky"... except the cost of living is still about 35% of my salary. A programmer with a lot of experience under his belt can expect to be paid between 15k-45k per year.
While food is relatively cheap, I still have to share an apartment with two other people whom I don't even know (renting a flat on my own would cost at least 50% of my income), I have to save for a few months to buy a car or a computer (not even new ones, if I want anything decent I have to buy used things). Buying a place for myself would mean I'd have to pay for a mortgage for the next 20 years.
If I would like to work abroad I have to keep in mind that people think very little of us and that the only thing we've got going for us is that we either take the jobs no one else wants or that we can be paid less than the native citizens.
But please, do tell me my ride is easier than getting free money and being hired because you're not white.
The point I wanted to make was supposed to be more along the lines "If you, in your current situation make yourself non-white your ride will be harder then if you make yourself white" and wanted to bring it up because I tried that on a few occasions. And the experience was really weird because the change was my scarf and slight adjustment of my facial hair :) Fortunately it doesn't happen too often because I live in fairly cosmopolitan city.
> If I would like to work abroad I have to keep in mind that people think very little of us and that the only thing we've got going for us is that we either take the jobs no one else wants or that we can be paid less than the native citizens.
On one hand I would want to dispute this, because at least where I work (and I hope other large EU offices of multi-national corporations would be similar), we hire non-eu colleagues all the time. I have already worked with people from Russia, Armenia and Ukraine in my office and from what we have talked, they haven't been less compensated than the rest of us.
On the other hand, there was the experience of one of my Russian colleagues that couldn't find a sub-let, because landlords were afraid to have him because of his nationality.
But speaking of the the situation you are describing sounds similar to one I have been 3y ago? Living with my gf and 3 other random people to share the rent, working for ~8000$ a year as a junior QE (actually half of that, part-time-ing, while trying to finish school). Morgage ~20 years sounds about right as well. Now that I am the 'programmer with experience' I earn around 25k$/y.
To return to the point of "sending the elevator down", the assumption was that the assumed defaults of our industry that still more or less are 'caucasian-look', 'male' make your life easier, and if you happen to flip any of them you make it harder. If you want to add 'american' or 'westerner' to the mix to account for your brand of harder difficulty, that is fair.
- it is not racism as long as you are being racist to white people
- only white people can be racist
It is quite simple
Then the comment does not apply to you.
I don't think you quite understand how deep the rabbit hole of this form of "whiteness" goes; as a social construct it implies people from Western Europe or North America. Surely you have experienced how there are people from there who treat Eastern Europe people as less "civilized? Similarly for, say, Mediterranean ethnicities.
White male privilege might not (fully) extend to you, but that does not disprove its existence.
I'm white in the US. There is so much ignorance and illiteracy in the way white male racism is portrayed in the USA. It's a beautiful display of how you preach openness and then completely disregard all nuanced world views. You may not have known them then, but you sure as hell don't listen when someone is trying to explain it aaron.
A huge portion of people that are on the receiving end of racist systems are white male by your definition.
The thing that's so offensive about your kind and the authors kind of attitude is very similar to when some spoiled american female brat who's parents can just easily lash out tens of thousands a year for an ivy league school tells me how would i know anything about discrimination because i'm too white.
Theres even a funny 1974s movie about the miserable life of an italian immigrant in switzerland? Pane e cioccolata. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_and_Chocolate
But if you really care how about you take a look at interview invites in Germany/Central Europe.
Gee, assumptions much? I'm a mixed race straight male from the Netherlands. I have definitely been on the receiving end of racism plenty of times in his life, and even then there's still plenty of privileges that I got to enjoy and that I wasn't aware of until my late twenties.
These are not binary mutually exclusive concepts.
Pointing out privileges is not an accusation, or at least it shouldn't be. It's just saying: you take <x> for granted like a right, but not everyone get's to enjoy that, and the reason they don't is a lack of being male/white/straight or combination of such. Let's put in an effort to make <x> equal for everyone.
> tells me how would i know anything about discrimination because i'm too white.
Except that this is not what I'm saying. I'm saying that privileges exist at many levels, and there's gradations of privilege.
GP is a white Eastern European man. This brings a number of societal privileges. It also means he missed the boat on a number of others, and had to endure racism against certain stereotypes.
The point is that "whiteness" as a race is a exclusionary social construct that exists in gradations, and not as a yes/no binary thing based on skin.
What happened to just trying to be a decent human being and helping out those in need of a hand, regardless of race?
What do you mean, "now"? I'm not making shit up, this has been going on for ages. Look up how Irish were considered inferior to Brits because they supposedly descended from black people, Italian immigrants being treated even worse, then the Poles... I mean "latino" as a race does not exist outside of the US, it was invented there to single out the Spanish population. It's all a social construct and it's all bullshit
Here, let me make things easy for you, Kat Blaque's "white history month" series:
>Then the comment does not apply to you.
It does, I'm white. The author specifically mentions "white male".
I certainly agree on the racist point.
So for each person like you who means "white male in the abstract sense", there are ten people in the movement who literally hate white males for running the world.
When we want to talk about privilege we should say just that: "privileged people". Don't shit on arbitrary subsections of the population.
I know minstrel shows made it to England, but I don't think they ever made it to the Adriatic Sea
privelage is more a factor of socio economics than race when did we start this ridiculous fight against merit and this arbitrary oppression quota system.
You see, it is true that in the US the privileged are often white. But that's just noise in the data. Because most of the disadvantaged are also white, and male.
But by building up racial tensions in the lower classes with a fundamental attribution error -- those lower classes are divided -- and therefore, not much of a threat to those who are actually privileged.
This is the same tactic the ruling class has used for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years.
Divide and conquer.
but of course if people started talking about asians and jews the way they talk about white males the racist nature of their argument becomes all too apparent.
your useful idiot argument very well may be correct though.
It might. It's possible that even though the path for him was difficult, it may still have been more difficult if he were black.
"White privilege"... Brought to you by "Black Privilege".
It doesn't matter how hard you worked or work, your accomplishments will always have the stank of "white male privilege" in the eyes of everyone non white male.
Really? You don't think there are advantages to being a woman? That my URM neighbor who got into Harvard law with a 164 LSAT would have had things easier if he were white? Your statement is incredibly racist.
I'm not being racist one bit. Just stating a definition.
However, I've always been told because I'm white it was easier because, well, I'm white and certainly some doors were opened for me that never would have been otherwise.
My original comment is defining this mentality. Sure it was harsh, but it wasn't to be racist, it was to express ... frustration? There needs to be a better way of describing how some people are privileged and others are not. I mean, in some ways, sure, I was privileged. My father had steady work so we ate and had shelter. Does it mean that anything I've accomplished should stink because I'm white male? But, we can't even talk about how that's not fair because slavery gets brought up. Because the oppression of African Americans gets brought up. Because women don't make as much as men gets brought up. Etc. Anything unfair to white males will never be truly unfair. Any rags to middle class story of a white male will always be tainted with, "well, of course, he's white ain't he"?
 He was good to me. I miss him dearly.
am i saying racism isn't a thing? no. am i saying that we shouldn't tackle issues of discrimination and features of society that encourage people to fill certain gender roles? no.
all i'm saying is that demonising white males is wrong, and i don't believe in some sort of naive quota system or any other heavy handed intervention for many reasons.
if we want to encourage women into programming that's great start at the supply side, artificially increasing demand with quotas etc or moving further away from a merit based system in any way helps no one.
i have spoken to and know many talented bright females, and there is a general dis interest in STEM usually, especially programming. and if you bother to ask they don't talk about discouragement from entering a male dominated field, or bias or discrimination or lack of opportunity they talk about a general disinterest. could we market to them better? maybe, but there are clearly steps we should take and others we should not.
as for all the other problems with society which for some reason the tech world feels it has to rectify we're going about it entirely the wrong way. we should not discriminate on race positively or negatively if we want to help disadvantaged people let's do that by targeting the disadvantaged without taking race into account. racial profiling unneeded and we don't need to stigmatise anyone.
I would prefer if he didn't tell me what my duties were. Instead he could try to motivate me in a positive way to think of these people who need help. Please use positive motivation, not negative one.
Warren Buffet and Bill Gates might have won the game. Someone with $5M might have.
But your average 'privileged white male'? Even if we restrict it to the middle class, there's not that much to give up, you know? It's not as if we're all paid up on the mortgage with the retirement fund sorted and now we're just drilling away for more hookers and blow.
I have real issues with the rhetoric that seems to be cropping up as of late as it seems to push the focus away from the capitalist elite that own everything, and on to those who are in the same order of magnitude of wealth, battling away to keep their lives together.
We are friends, not enemies.
I agree that racism and sexism are problems. I definitely try to not be racist and sexist myself. I even try to actively correct for my own unconscious bias.
But it's not my responsibility to fix sexism in the tech industry. I'd rather focus on some other problems which I think are more serious—global extreme poverty, for example—and that shouldn't be a moral failing on my part.
There ain't no privlege here. Nobody ever sat me down and said "this is what you need to do". Hell, nobody ever cared about that, just whether or not I could get stuff done. I never had any big friends throwing me tips and jobs like that guy at Sea World training the seals to play horns. I never begged some "angel" to give me money. When I hit a wall, I banged my head against it until I got through. When everyone else was going to "conferences" and "training classes" on the company dollar, I was back at my desk, pounding out code and reading the f'ing manual. And when somebody says I have a duty to make somebody's life easier, I want to ask them where they were when I was sweatting blood?
You want a new "language" for "privlege"? How about spelling it L-A-Z-Y? Anyone could do what I did. It isn't hard. You just have to put in the work and for Goddess's sake stop whining.
Most of us in that situation took loans. And if we did OK, we paid them off. No big deal, just another minor obstacle.
My personal opinion is not that you should bring yourself down and suffer for people of colour, but just know that you have benefited from these little effects throughout your entire life. As Warren Buffet said, these "snowball" into a pretty comfortable life.
I was a 17 year old non-white guy, minding my own business, and I was detained for matching a description. Who? Why? Nope, just matching a description. I was in the system now. Every time I have to deal with the system, I fight to make sure there are no traces. And every few years, I have to do so. Meanwhile, my white friends who work in the financial industry transport drugs across state lines and never have any issues, even if they are pulled over. I know, because I travelled with them once and I was the only one who was questioned for any length of time.
What the actual fuck?
I mean, it was a nice trip, but seriously? I don't even know where to buy drugs.
This is what life is like for someone who isn't white. Over and over, day in and day out. It honestly gets really tiring.
I'm not complaining, it just makes my success that much sweeter.
He is not a politician and is speaking for himself, and he has the right to say that I guess. Overall, a great write!
Just because we, personally, have made it, doesn't mean we shouldn't make the path easier for others.
Short version: I'm Irish, former illegal immigrant, naturalized citizen, pay my taxes, have a family, and consider myself a moderate success etc.
I worked very, very hard to get to here I am now, but I guarantee you that that fact that I am white (and spoke English as a first language helped too) played its part too.
It exists, it is a thing, and we're obligated to do our best to make things better for everyone along thew way.
Are there lots of ethnic minorities in the industry where you are?
Being a white male doesn't mean it was easy for you or you auto-success. It means it was easier for you compared to non-ethic majority, non-males.
source: I am 45 yr old white male
You're a part of a community. You've taken advantage of the community in the past: there is always an obligation to contribute positively back to the community.
The author is saying they think diversity is positive to the community. You can argue against that point, but you aren't: you're saying contributing is bad.
That said, that doesn't mean that you sailed through life on a magic carpet with things handed to you.
See, this is why people get frustrated when people tell them to check their privilege. White men are told all the time that they have life so easy, but almost never have their own frustrations or life experiences validated. I'm very grateful for everything I've had relatively easy in life (loving parents who never divorced and not worrying about having dinner each night, among others), but life still isn't easy, and it's frustrating feeling like there's nothing to complain about because of how you were born.