Saturday, February 8, 2020

White Privilege

-Image by Barbara Bonanno from Pixabay- 

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.
Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and/or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering



Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too." -Voltaire

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

Please bear with me while I lay a foundation for some thoughts on White Privilege.

I'm an unattractive, old, white, heterosexual, cisgendered dude.

For a while there I self-identified as a gorgeous, young, black, lesbian dudette by the name of Cocoa (picture Halle Berry) who was trapped in the body of an unattractive, old, white, heterosexual, cisgendered dude — named Mark.

However, in the course of spending nearly two years in a secret monastery in the Wudang Mountains of China in search of enlightenment (so secret there's not even a gift shop or restaurant to serve the tourist trade), Cocoa was reabsorbed into the one soul.

I'm still not enlightened, but I came to realize that Cocoa was a false persona created by my formerly fragile ego to cope with what I used to regard as a veritable blitzkrieg of existential threats.

[Used to regard? How do ya repel a blitzkrieg of...]

Embrace the Way of Ishkabibble.

[Pray tell, Cranky Tzu, what is the Way of Ishkabibble?] 

Well, Dana, the word itself is a faux Yiddish, archaic slang word that's been around for over a hundred years that was originally translated as "I should worry!" with a sarcastic twist that rendered it "Don't worry!" or "Who Cares?".

The definitive, relatively modern translation, in my semi-humble opinion, that captures the full meaning of the concept behind the word is expressed in the motto of the immortal Alfred E. Newman, "What, me worry?".

A more recent translation is the repellent, "What-ever" with the second half of the word accented enough to match an actual or implied eye roll. Yet another indicator of a culture in decline.

[That's a, uh, deep foundation ya got there, not Cocoa, but the title of this missive, if I can remember that far back, is White Privilege, yes?]

Yes, indeed.

Recently, I was thinking about the whole white privilege meme in light of the aforementioned personal existential threats  — past, present, and potential — in the course of a rough day when I wasn't basking in the usual warm glow of my privilege.

Just one example, if you please.

If you're over fifty years old in this country, and certainly no shortage of other countries,


If you don't embody some version of pretty, successful, fit, healthy, and at least locally famous — the order and importance of the adjectives vary  — you are effectively invisible, and scheduled for deletion.

Being blessed, like me, with having actual loved ones mitigates this condition somewhat.

I chose this particular example because regardless of who or what you identify as, or actually are, this applies to everyone, even those of you still young enough to assume you'll live forever. Even those of you playing some version of the __ is the new 40 game.

I'm not going to mention my health problems, my financial problems, my severe case of recurring Been There/Done That/Is That All There Is disease with complications from Glass Half Full syndrome.

I'm not even going to bring up... Well, nevermind.


Intuiting that I might be onto something interesting, I consulted that indispensable and unassailable compendium of knowledge, Wikipedia. 

"White privilege denotes both obvious and less obvious passive advantages that white people may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice." 

This paragraph ends with, "The concept of white privilege also implies the right to assume the universality of one's own experiences, marking others as different or exceptional while perceiving oneself as normal."

Yes, definitely interesting. 

The next paragraph, from which I will not quote, delves into... Well, while I'm obviously not a highly trained, tenured professor in either the field of whiteness studies or critical race theory...

[There's no such thing as whiteness studies, you're makin' that up! And as far as...] 

Nuh-uh, as Donnie Baker would say, "I swear to God, you can look it up." 

Anyways, I would describe the next paragraph as a summary of the reasons the experts in these cutting edge new fields of study don't agree about exactly what white privilege is. 

The rest of this exhaustive article, that boasts 176 citations confirms this, but obviously, they're working hard on it. I suspect that they will continue, undaunted, till they get to the bottom of things. 

While we wait, I, a humble layperson, can't help but wonder if any of the scholars in these two fields  — both privileged, tenured profs and their personal slaves, grad students and postdocs, have given any thought to the following.

In their fearless pursuit of the truth  even the currently fashionable, untestable, and unverifiable version of truth, the oft-mentioned lived experience — have they considered that this may all be a bunch of crap.  

[Excuse me! You can't just...]

Sure I can. There's a warning label at the beginning of every column and anyone that knows me and/or has read more than a column or two knows, I'm Mark-Mark the cute and cuddly Panda bear

Behold the wisdom (and rewrite) of Cranky Tzu: 

"Smart/athletic/funny/perceptual/beautiful/etceteral privilege denotes both obvious and less obvious passive advantages that white people H. sapiens may or may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice."

Most of us have some sort of innate, unearned ability that many of the rest of us don't and that we often as not take for granted. All of us employ bias and prejudice deduced from our lived experience, overtly and otherwise, just to get through the damn day.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Please scroll down to react, comment, or share. If my work pleases you I wouldn't be offended if you offered to buy me some cheap coffee.   

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Cranky don't tweet. 


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