Tracie Guy-Decker
Jewish Museum of Maryland

Privilege and Fragility

 In Personal Perspectives

When I hear white folks argue that because they (or their ancestors) were poor, there can be no such thing as white privilege. When I hear that argument, I wonder if the culture should’ve chosen a different word to describe the phenomenon. Maybe “advantage” or maybe “talisman,” even, would elicit less ire. I say this because though privilege is, I believe, the correct meaning, people hear it and think of economic privilege. When they believe that “economic privilege” doesn’t apply to them, they reject any phrase containing the word. But here’s the thing about white privilege: the phrase does not imply that white people’s lives aren’t hard. Rather, the phrase acknowledges that white people’s lives are not made harder because of their skin color. It’s an important distinction. 

With the help of the Talmud, grappled with this idea and with that knee-jerk, negative reaction so many white people have when first confronted with the idea of white privilege on my personal blog, here: The Talmud and White Fragility.

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